Special Issue "Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Gabriella Sonnante
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources, National Research Council (CNR), Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Interests: germplasm diversity; plant evolution; molecular basis of secondary metabolism and nitrogen use; microRNAs

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agro-biodiversity embraces genetic resources of edible plants and crops (including traditional varieties, cultivars, hybrids, and other genetic material developed by breeders), plants used for other purposes, and wild resources. The analysis of plant agro-biodiversity is fundamental for safeguarding the knowledge and for the preservation of crop genetic variation, hence supporting ecosystem operation, resilience, and productivity. Thanks to agro-biodiversity, farmers and breeders can rely on a reservoir of genetically variable plants for food security. In fact, genetic diversity is necessary for the development of future crops able to cope with increasing food requests and environmental challenges. In order to exploit the enormous potential of genetic resources, plant germplasms still need to be characterized. The advances in sequencing technologies have allowed for the exploration of genetic diversity at nucleotide-scale precision, and genome-wide association studies can help identify loci linked to traits of interest.

This Special Issue is devoted to all aspects of germplasm diversity, with a particular focus on the characterization of plant genetic resources, including the use of molecular tools, for sustainable agriculture and crop improvements.

Dr. Gabriella Sonnante
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • plant genetic resources
  • germplasm characterization
  • molecular diversity
  • sustainable agriculture
  • crop improvement

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Climatic Diversity and Ecological Descriptors of Wild Tomato Species (Solanum sect. Lycopersicon) and Close Related Species (Solanum sect. Juglandifolia y sect. Lycopersicoides) in Latin America
Plants 2021, 10(5), 855; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10050855 - 23 Apr 2021
Viewed by 402
Abstract
Conservation and sustainable use of species diversity require a description of the environment where they develop. The objectives were to determine ecological descriptors and climatic diversity of areas along the distribution range of 12 species of wild tomatoes (Solanum sect. Lycopersicon) [...] Read more.
Conservation and sustainable use of species diversity require a description of the environment where they develop. The objectives were to determine ecological descriptors and climatic diversity of areas along the distribution range of 12 species of wild tomatoes (Solanum sect. Lycopersicon) and four wild species of phylogenetically related groups (Solanum sect. Juglandifolia and sect. Lycopersicoides), as well as their ecological similarity in Latin America. With 4228 selected tomato accessions and an environmental information system (EIS) composed of 21 climatic variables, diversity patterns of the distribution areas were identified for each species, as well as ecological descriptors through the use of geographic information systems (GIS). The contribution of climatic variables to the species geographical distribution was identified by principal component analysis (PCA), and similarity in species distribution as a function of the variables identified with cluster analysis (CA). Climatic characteristics and the environmental amplitude of wild tomatoes and related species along their distributional range were satisfactorily determined by ecological descriptors. Eleven climate types were identified, predominantly BSk (arid, steppe, cold), BWh (arid, desert, hot), and Cfb (temperate, no dry season, warm summer). PCA determined 10 most important variables were the most important for the geographical distribution. Six groups of species were identified according to CA and climatic distribution similarity. This approach has shown promissory applications for biodiversity conservation of valuable genetic resources for tomato crop breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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Article
Genotyping-by-Sequencing in Vigna unguiculata Landraces and Its Utility for Assessing Taxonomic Relationships
Plants 2021, 10(3), 509; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10030509 - 09 Mar 2021
Viewed by 634
Abstract
Genotyping by sequencing (GBS) was used to analyze relationships among cowpea and asparagus bean landraces from southern Italy and to assess the utility of this technology to study taxonomy in a wider panel, including V. unguiculata cultigroups, subspecies, and other Vigna species. The [...] Read more.
Genotyping by sequencing (GBS) was used to analyze relationships among cowpea and asparagus bean landraces from southern Italy and to assess the utility of this technology to study taxonomy in a wider panel, including V. unguiculata cultigroups, subspecies, and other Vigna species. The analysis of SNPs derived from GBS highlighted that, among the cowpea landraces, the African samples were separated from the other material, while, for the Italian landraces, a certain clustering depending on seed color/pattern was observed in the dendrogram. When examining the V. unguiculata species complex, a clear separation between the two groups of wild subspecies, i.e., the allogamous wild perennials and the perennial out/inbreds, could be observed, the former representing the more ancestral wild progenitors of V. unguiculata. The species V. vexillata appeared more closely related to V. unguiculata than to the other Vigna species analyzed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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Article
Phylogenetic and Comparative Analyses of Complete Chloroplast Genomes of Chinese Viburnum and Sambucus (Adoxaceae)
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091143 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 719
Abstract
Phylogenetic analyses of complete chloroplast genome sequences have yielded significant improvements in our understanding of relationships in the woody flowering genus Viburnum (Adoxaceae, Dipsacales); however, these relationships were evaluated focusing only on Viburnum species within Central and South America and Southeast Asia. By [...] Read more.
Phylogenetic analyses of complete chloroplast genome sequences have yielded significant improvements in our understanding of relationships in the woody flowering genus Viburnum (Adoxaceae, Dipsacales); however, these relationships were evaluated focusing only on Viburnum species within Central and South America and Southeast Asia. By contrast, despite being a hotspot of Viburnum diversity, phylogenetic relationships of Viburnum species in China are less well known. Here, we characterized the complete chloroplast (cp) genomes of 21 Viburnum species endemic to China, as well as three Sambucus species. These 24 plastomes were highly conserved in genomic structure, gene order and content, also when compared with other Adoxaceae. The identified repeat sequences, simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and highly variable plastid regions will provide potentially valuable genetic resources for further population genetics and phylogeographic studies on Viburnum and Sambucus. Consistent with previous combined phylogenetic analyses of 113 Viburnum species, our phylogenomic analyses based on the complete cp genome sequence dataset confirmed the sister relationship between Viburnum and the Sambucus-Adoxa-Tetradoxa-Sinadoxa group, the monophyly of four recognized sections in Flora of China (i.e., Viburnum sect. Tinus, Viburnum sect. Solenotinus, Viburnum sect. Viburnum and Viburnum sect. Pseudotinus) and the nonmonophyly of Viburnum sect. Odontotinus and Viburnum sect. Megalotinus. Additionally, our study confirmed the sister relationships between the clade Valvatotinus and Viburnum sect. Pseudotinus, as well as between Viburnum sect. Opulus and the Odontotinus-Megalotinus group. Overall, our results clearly document the power of the complete cp genomes in improving phylogenetic resolution, and will contribute to a better understanding of plastome evolution in Chinese Adoxaceae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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Article
Radiation Interception, Conversion and Partitioning Efficiency in Potato Landraces: How Far Are We from the Optimum?
Plants 2020, 9(6), 787; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9060787 - 23 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1630
Abstract
Crop efficiencies associated with intercepted radiation, conversion into biomass and allocation to edible organs are essential for yield improvement strategies that would enhance genetic properties to maximize carbon gain without increasing crop inputs. The production of 20 potato landraces—never studied before—was analyzed for [...] Read more.
Crop efficiencies associated with intercepted radiation, conversion into biomass and allocation to edible organs are essential for yield improvement strategies that would enhance genetic properties to maximize carbon gain without increasing crop inputs. The production of 20 potato landraces—never studied before—was analyzed for radiation interception ( ε i ), conversion ( ε c ) and partitioning ( ε p ) efficiencies. Additionally, other physiological traits related to senescence delay (normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) s l p ), tuberization precocity ( t u ), photosynthetic performance and dry tuber yield per plant (TY) were also assessed. Vegetation reflectance was remotely acquired and the efficiencies estimated through a process-based model parameterized by a time-series of airborne imageries. The combination of ε i and ε c , closely associated with an early tuber maturity and a NDVI s l p explained 39% of the variability grouping the most productive genotypes. TY was closely correlated to senescence delay (r P e a r s o n = 0.74), indicating the usefulness of remote sensing methods for potato yield diversity characterization. About 89% of TY was explained by the first three principal components, associated mainly to t u , ε c and ε i , respectively. When comparing potato with other major crops, its ε p is very close to the theoretical maximum. These findings suggest that there is room for improving ε i and ε c to enhance potato production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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Article
Barattiere: An Italian Local Variety of Cucumis melo L. with Quality Traits between Melon and Cucumber
Plants 2020, 9(5), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050578 - 01 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2001
Abstract
Barattiere, belonging to the Cucumis melo L. species, is a local variety of Puglia (Southern Italy), which is consumed as a vegetable at the immature stage, like cucumber. In this study, three Barattiere populations (‘Monopoli’, ‘Carovigno’ and ‘Fasano’) were evaluated for the main [...] Read more.
Barattiere, belonging to the Cucumis melo L. species, is a local variety of Puglia (Southern Italy), which is consumed as a vegetable at the immature stage, like cucumber. In this study, three Barattiere populations (‘Monopoli’, ‘Carovigno’ and ‘Fasano’) were evaluated for the main quality traits. All genotypes showed a very light green-yellow colour of flesh, without any difference regarding chlorophyll and carotenoid contents. Carovigno’s Barattiere showed the highest values of dry weight (6.8 g 100 g−1 fresh weight - FW), sugars (45 g kg−1 FW), and sweetness index (7.3), while Monopoli’s Barattiere showed the lowest total phenols content (21 mg kg−1 FW). Fasano’s Barattiere showed the highest content of Zn and Cu (2.3 and 0.3 mg kg−1 FW, respectively), while ‘Monopoli’ showed the highest Ba content (0.3 mg kg−1 FW) and the lowest Mg content (94 mg kg−1 FW). No differences between populations were found concerning the content of Ca, K, Na, B, Mn, and Fe. In conclusion, the quality profile of Barattiere makes this local genotype interesting for its traits, and also suggests its consumption by people with specific dietary requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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Article
Recovery, Assessment, and Molecular Characterization of Minor Olive Genotypes in Tunisia
Plants 2020, 9(3), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9030382 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1174
Abstract
Olive is one of the oldest cultivated species in the Mediterranean Basin, including Tunisia, where it has a wide diversity, with more than 200 cultivars, of both wild and feral forms. Many minor cultivars are still present in marginal areas of Tunisia, where [...] Read more.
Olive is one of the oldest cultivated species in the Mediterranean Basin, including Tunisia, where it has a wide diversity, with more than 200 cultivars, of both wild and feral forms. Many minor cultivars are still present in marginal areas of Tunisia, where they are maintained by farmers in small local groves, but they are poorly characterized and evaluated. In order to recover this neglected germplasm, surveys were conducted in different areas, and 31 genotypes were collected, molecularly characterized with 12 nuclear microsatellite (simple sequence repeat (SSR)) markers, and compared with 26 reference cultivars present in the Tunisian National Olive collection. The analysis revealed an overall high genetic diversity of this olive’s germplasm, but also discovered the presence of synonymies and homonymies among the commercialized varieties. The structure analysis showed the presence of different gene pools in the analyzed germplasm. In particular, the marginal germplasm from Ras Jbal and Azmour is characterized by gene pools not present in commercial (Nurseries) varieties, pointing out the very narrow genetic base of the commercialized olive material in Tunisia, and the need to broaden it to avoid the risk of genetic erosion of this species in this country. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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Article
Assessment of Genetic Diversity of the “Acquaviva Red Onion” (Allium cepa L.) Apulian Landrace
Plants 2020, 9(2), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9020260 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1863
Abstract
Onion (Allium cepa L.) is the second most important vegetable crop worldwide and is widely appreciated for its health benefits. Despite its significant economic importance and its value as functional food, onion has been poorly investigated with respect to its genetic diversity. [...] Read more.
Onion (Allium cepa L.) is the second most important vegetable crop worldwide and is widely appreciated for its health benefits. Despite its significant economic importance and its value as functional food, onion has been poorly investigated with respect to its genetic diversity. Herein, we surveyed the genetic variation in the “Acquaviva red onion” (ARO), a landrace with a century-old history of cultivation in a small town in the province of Bari (Apulia, Southern of Italy). A set of 11 microsatellite markers were used to explore the genetic variation in a germplasm collection consisting of 13 ARO populations and three common commercial types. Analyses of genetic structure with parametric and non-parametric methods highlighted that the ARO represents a well-defined gene pool, clearly distinct from the Tropea and Montoro landraces with which it is often mistaken. In order to provide a description of bulbs, usually used for fresh consumption, soluble solid content and pungency were evaluated, showing higher sweetness in the ARO with respect to the two above mentioned landraces. Overall, the present study is useful for the future valorization of the ARO, which could be promoted through quality labels which could contribute to limit commercial frauds and improve the income of smallholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Germplasm Diversity for Sustainability and Crop Improvement)
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