Special Issue "Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops"

A special issue of Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Alessandra Francini

Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Piazza Martiri della Libertà 33, I-56127 Pisa, Italy
E-Mail
Interests: antioxidant; chlorophyll fluorescence; fruit quality; tree; heavy metals; phytoremediation; xenobiotic
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Luca Sebastiani

Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Piazza Martiri della Libertà 33, I-56127 Pisa, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: antioxidant; chlorophyll fluorescence; fruit quality; tree; heavy metals; phytoremediation; xenobiotic

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Horticultural crop yield and quality depend on genotype, environmental conditions, and production management. In particular, adverse environmental conditions may greatly affect crop performance, reducing crop yield by 50%–70%. Abiotic stresses such as cold, heat, drought, flooding, salinity, nutrient deficiency, xenobiotic compounds, heavy metals, ozone, and ultraviolet radiation affect multiple physiological and biochemical mechanisms in plants, as they cope with the stress conditions. However, different crop species can have different sensitivity or tolerance to specific abiotic stresses. Tolerant plants may activate different strategies to adapt to or avoid the negative effect of abiotic stresses. At the physiological level, photosynthetic activity and light-use efficiency of plants may be modulated to enhance tolerance against the stress. At the biochemical level, several antioxidant systems may be activated and many enzymes may produce stress-related metabolites to help avoid cellular damage, compounds such as proline, glycine betaine, amino acids, etc.

In each crop species, there is a wide variability of tolerance to abiotic stresses, and some wild relatives may carry useful traits for enhancing the tolerance to abiotic stresses in their progeny, through traditional or biotechnological breeding. Fo example, among fruit tree species, ancient cultivars are often preferred in highly exposed abiotic stress conditions. Moreover, a significant role may be played by the plant hormones (auxins, cytokinins, brassinosteroids, ethylene, gibberellins, jasmonates, and strigolactones) in alleviating stress conditions and enhancing crop performance. Understanding the abiotic stresses and plant hormone interaction is becoming crucial in crop management. Finally, the availability of next generation sequencing (NGS) tools allows fast and accurate transcriptome and genome sequencing.

In a reasonably short period, it is possible to obtain the transcription profiles or the genome information of different species or mutants. The genomic data correlated with physiological, biochemical, molecular biology and proteomic data can greatly help in understanding plant responses to abiotic stresses. Therefore, research articles, reviews, short notes, and opinion articles related to tolerance to abiotic stresses, plant growth regulator application, genotype variability and crop tolerance as well as physiological, biochemical and molecular studies focused on these issues are welcome for our current Special Issue on "Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops".

Dr. Alessandra Francini
Prof. Dr. Luca Sebastiani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Horticulturae is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • abiotic stresses
  • heavy metals
  • temperature
  • ozone
  • xenobiotics
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • genes expression
  • tolerance
  • hormones

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Timing of a Short-Term Reduction in Temperature and Irradiance Affects Growth and Flowering of Four Annual Bedding Plants
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010015
Received: 7 December 2018 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
Heating and supplemental lighting are often provided during spring greenhouse production of bedding plants, but energy inputs are a major production cost. Different energy-savings strategies can be utilized, but effects on plant growth and flowering must be considered. We evaluated the impact and [...] Read more.
Heating and supplemental lighting are often provided during spring greenhouse production of bedding plants, but energy inputs are a major production cost. Different energy-savings strategies can be utilized, but effects on plant growth and flowering must be considered. We evaluated the impact and timing of a two-week low-energy (reduced temperature and irradiance) interval on flowering and growth of impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook.f. ‘Accent Orange’), pansy (Viola × wittrockiana Gams. ‘Delta Premium Blue Blotch’), petunia (Petunia × hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr. ‘Dreams Pink’), and snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Montego Violet’). Flowering was delayed 7 to 10 days when the low-energy exposure occurred before flowering. Flower number was reduced 40–61% in impatiens, 33–35% in petunia (low-energy weeks 5–6 and weeks 7–8, respectively), and 35% in pansy (weeks 5–6). Petunia and impatiens dry mass gradually decreased as the low-energy exposure occurred later in production; petunias were 26% (weeks 5–6) and 33% (weeks 7–8) smaller, and impatiens were 20% to 31% smaller than ambient plants. Estimated energy savings were 14% to 16% for the eight-week period, but only up to 7% from transplant to flowering. Growers can consider including a two-week reduction in temperature and irradiance to reduce energy, provided an additional week of production is scheduled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
Open AccessArticle
Water-Related Variables for Predicting Yield of Apple under Deficit Irrigation
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 1 January 2019 / Accepted: 15 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
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Abstract
Predicting apple yield in relation to tree water use is important for irrigation planning and evaluation. The aim of the present study was to identify measurable variables related to tree water use that could predict final fruit yield of apple trees under different [...] Read more.
Predicting apple yield in relation to tree water use is important for irrigation planning and evaluation. The aim of the present study was to identify measurable variables related to tree water use that could predict final fruit yield of apple trees under different strategies of deficit irrigation. Adult ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’ apple trees were exposed to conventional irrigation (CI), delivering 100% of crop evapotranspiration; partial root zone drying (PRD), delivering 50% of CI water only on one alternated side of the root-zone; and continuous deficit irrigation (CDI), delivering 50% of CI water on both sides of the root-zone. Integrals of soil (SWDint) and leaf (LWSDint) water deficit along with growth and stomatal conductance (Gsint) were calculated across each season and used to estimate total conductance (GStree) and transpiration (Trtree) per tree, transpiration efficiency on a fruit (GRfruit/Tr) or tree (GRtrunk/Tr) growth basis, and transpiration productivity (Yield/Trtree). ‘Fuji’ trees had higher Yield/Trtree, but had lower GRtrunk/Tr and similar GRfruit/Tr compared to ‘Gala’ trees. In ‘Fuji’, CDI reduced yield, trunk growth, leaf hydration, and gas exchange, while in ‘Gala’, it did not reduce yield and gas exchange. In ‘Fuji’, a linear combination of GRtrunk/Tr, GRfruit/Tr, and Gstree contributed to predicting yield, with GRfruit/Tr explaining nearly 78% of the model variability. In ‘Gala’, a linear combination of LWSDint and Gstree contributed to predicting yield, with Gstree explaining over 79% of the model variability. These results indicate that measuring tree water status or water use may help predict final apple yields only in those cultivars like ‘Gala’ that cannot limit dehydration by closing stomates because of carbon starvation. In more vigorous cultivars like ‘Fuji’, transpiration efficiency based on fruit growth can be a powerful predictor of final yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
How Water Quality and Quantity Affect Pepper Yield and Postharvest Quality
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 2 January 2019 / Published: 7 January 2019
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Abstract
There are gaps in our knowledge of the effects of irrigation water quality and amount on yield and postharvest quality of pepper fruit (Capsicum annuum L.). We studied the effects of water quality and quantity treatments on pepper fruits during subsequent simulated [...] Read more.
There are gaps in our knowledge of the effects of irrigation water quality and amount on yield and postharvest quality of pepper fruit (Capsicum annuum L.). We studied the effects of water quality and quantity treatments on pepper fruits during subsequent simulated storage and shelf-life. Total yield decreased with increasing water salinity, but export-quality yield was not significantly different in fruits irrigated with water of either 1.6 or 2.8 dS/m, but there was a 30–35% reduction in export-quality yield following use of water at 4.5 dS/m. Water quantity hardly affected either total or export-quality yield. Water quality but not quantity significantly affected fruit weight loss after 14 days at 7 °C plus three days at 20 °C; irrigation with water at 2.8 dS/m gave the least weight loss. Fruits were significantly firmer after irrigation with good-quality water than with salty water. The saltier the water, the higher was the sugar content. Vitamin C content was not affected by water quality or quantity, but water quality significantly affected antioxidant (AOX) content. The highest AOX activity was found with commercial quality water, the lowest with salty water. Pepper yield benefited by irrigation with fresh water (1.6 dS/m) and was not affected by water quantity, but post-storage fruit quality was maintained better after use of moderately-saline water (2.8 dS/m). Thus, irrigation water with salinity not exceeding 2.8 dS/m will not impair postharvest quality, although the yield will be reduced at this salinity level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Environment and Nutrients on Hydroponic Lettuce Yield, Quality, and Phytonutrients
Horticulturae 2018, 4(4), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae4040048
Received: 3 October 2018 / Revised: 12 November 2018 / Accepted: 20 November 2018 / Published: 28 November 2018
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Abstract
A study was conducted with green and red-leaf lettuce cultivars grown in a deep-water culture production system. Plants were seeded in rockwool and germinated under greenhouse conditions at 25/20 °C (day/night) for 21 days before transplanting. The experimental design was a randomized complete [...] Read more.
A study was conducted with green and red-leaf lettuce cultivars grown in a deep-water culture production system. Plants were seeded in rockwool and germinated under greenhouse conditions at 25/20 °C (day/night) for 21 days before transplanting. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of cultivar and nutrient treatments that consisted of six replications. Treatments consisted of two lettuce genotypes, (1) green (Winter Density) and (2) red (Rhazes), and three nutrient treatments containing electroconductivity (EC) levels of (1) 1.0; (2) 2.0; and (3) 4.0 mS·cm−1. After 50 days, plants were harvested, processed, and analyzed to determine marketable yield, biomass, plant height, stem diameter, phenolics, and elemental nutrient concentrations. An interaction between growing season and lettuce cultivar was the predominant factor influencing yield, biomass, and quality. Nutrient solution EC treatment significantly affected biomass and water content. EC treatments significantly impacted concentrations of 3-O-glucoside and uptake of phosphorous, potassium, iron, boron, zinc, and molybdenum. Effects of growing season and cultivar on leafy lettuce yield and quality were more pronounced than the effect of nutrient solution EC treatment. Thus, greenhouse production of green and red-leaf lettuce cultivars in the south-eastern United States should be conducted in the spring and fall growing seasons with elevated nutrient solution EC of ≈4.0 mS·cm−1 to maximize yield and quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring Dormancy Transition in Almond [Prunus Dulcis (Miller) Webb] during Cold and Warm Mediterranean Seasons through the Analysis of a DAM (Dormancy-Associated MADS-Box) Gene
Horticulturae 2018, 4(4), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae4040041
Received: 8 October 2018 / Revised: 5 November 2018 / Accepted: 8 November 2018 / Published: 19 November 2018
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Abstract
For fruit tree (Prunus) species, flower bud dormancy completion determines the quality of bud break and the flowering time. In the present climate change and global warming context, the relationship between dormancy and flowering processes is a fundamental goal in molecular [...] Read more.
For fruit tree (Prunus) species, flower bud dormancy completion determines the quality of bud break and the flowering time. In the present climate change and global warming context, the relationship between dormancy and flowering processes is a fundamental goal in molecular biology of these species. In almond [P. dulcis (Miller) Webb], flowering time is a trait of great interest in the development of new cultivars adapted to different climatic areas. Late flowering is related to a long dormancy period due to high chilling requirements of the cultivar. It is considered a quantitative and highly heritable character but a dominant gene (Late bloom, Lb) was also described. A major QTL (quantitative trait loci) in the linkage group (LG) 4 was associated with Lb, together with other three QTLs in LG1 and LG7. In addition, DAM (Dormancy-Associated MADS-Box) genes located in LG1 have been largely described as a gene family involved in bud dormancy in different Prunus species including peach [P. persica (L.) Batsch] and Japanese apricot (P. mume Sieb. et Zucc.). In this work, a DAM transcript was cloned and its expression was analysed by qPCR (quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction) in almond flower buds during the dormancy release. For this purpose two almond cultivars (‘Desmayo Largueta’ and ‘Penta’) with different chilling requirements and flowering time were used, and the study was performed along two years. The complete coding sequence, designated PdDAM6 (Prunus dulcis DAM6), was subjected to a phylogenetic analysis with homologous sequences from other Prunus species. Finally, expression dynamics analysed by using qPCR showed a continuous decrease in transcript levels for both cultivars and years during the period analysed. Monitoring almond flower bud dormancy through DAM expression should be used to improve almond production in different climate conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Response of Mediterranean Ornamental Plants to Drought Stress
Received: 12 December 2018 / Revised: 3 January 2019 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2274 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Ornamental plants use unique adaptive mechanisms to overcome the negative effects of drought stress. A large number of species grown in the Mediterranean area offer the opportunity to select some for ornamental purposes with the ability to adapt to drought conditions. The plants [...] Read more.
Ornamental plants use unique adaptive mechanisms to overcome the negative effects of drought stress. A large number of species grown in the Mediterranean area offer the opportunity to select some for ornamental purposes with the ability to adapt to drought conditions. The plants tolerant to drought stress show different adaptation mechanisms to overcome drought stress, including morphological, physiological, and biochemical modifications. These responses include increasing root/shoot ratio, growth reduction, leaf anatomy change, and reduction of leaf size and total leaf area to limit water loss and guarantee photosynthesis. In this review, the effect of drought stress on photosynthesis and chlorophyll a fluorescence is discussed. Recent information on the mechanisms of signal transduction and the development of drought tolerance in ornamental plants is provided. Finally, drought-induced oxidative stress is analyzed and discussed. The purpose of this review is to deepen our knowledge of how drought may modify the morphological and physiological characteristics of plants and reduce their aesthetic value—that is, the key parameter of assessment of ornamental plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Agronomic Management for Enhancing Plant Tolerance to Abiotic Stresses: High and Low Values of Temperature, Light Intensity, and Relative Humidity
Horticulturae 2018, 4(3), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae4030021
Received: 1 July 2018 / Revised: 13 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 August 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1261 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Abiotic stresses have direct effects on plant growth and development. In agriculture, sub-optimal values of temperature, light intensity, and relative humidity can limit crop yield and reduce product quality. Temperature has a direct effect on whole plant metabolism, and low or high temperatures [...] Read more.
Abiotic stresses have direct effects on plant growth and development. In agriculture, sub-optimal values of temperature, light intensity, and relative humidity can limit crop yield and reduce product quality. Temperature has a direct effect on whole plant metabolism, and low or high temperatures can reduce growth or induce crop damage. Solar radiation is the primary driver of crop production, but light intensity can also have negative effects, especially if concurrent with water stress and high temperature. Relative humidity also plays an important role by regulating transpiration and water balance of crops. In this review, the main effects of these abiotic stresses on crop performance are reported, and agronomic strategies used to avoid or mitigate the effects of these stresses are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Agronomic Management for Enhancing Plant Tolerance to Abiotic Stresses—Drought, Salinity, Hypoxia, and Lodging
Horticulturae 2017, 3(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae3040052
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 10 November 2017 / Accepted: 21 November 2017 / Published: 1 December 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1096 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Abiotic stresses are currently responsible for significant losses in quantity and reduction in quality of global crop productions. In consequence, resilience against such stresses is one of the key aims of farmers and is attained by adopting both suitable genotypes and management practices. [...] Read more.
Abiotic stresses are currently responsible for significant losses in quantity and reduction in quality of global crop productions. In consequence, resilience against such stresses is one of the key aims of farmers and is attained by adopting both suitable genotypes and management practices. This latter aspect was reviewed from an agronomic point of view, taking into account stresses due to drought, water excess, salinity, and lodging. For example, drought tolerance may be enhanced by using lower plant density, anticipating the sowing or transplant as much as possible, using grafting with tolerant rootstocks, and optimizing the control of weeds. Water excess or hypoxic conditions during winter and spring can be treated with nitrate fertilizers, which increase survival rate. Salinity stress of sensitive crops may be alleviated by maintaining water content close to the field capacity by frequent and low-volume irrigation. Lodging can be prevented by installing shelterbelts against dominant winds, adopting equilibrated nitrogen fertilization, choosing a suitable plant density, and optimizing the management of pests and biotic diseases harmful to the stability and mechanic resistance of stems and roots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Abiotic Stress Effects on Performance of Horticultural Crops)
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