Special Issue "Selected Plant-Related Papers from the First Joint Meeting on Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019) “Natural and Human-induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production”"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Claudio Zaccone
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, 37129 Verona VR, Italy
Interests: SOM; humification; biogeochemical cycles; trace elements; SOM fractionation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Michela Schiavon
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Guest Editor
Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment, Univerisity of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
Interests: plant physiology; plant nutrition; selenium; crop biofortification; metal/loids; phytoremediation; plant biostimulants
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Silvia Celletti
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Guest Editor
Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen, Bolzano, Italy
Interests: plant physiological responses to mineral deficiencies (mainly sulfur and iron); use of manure-based hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) byproducts in soilless culture systems
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Teodoro Miano
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Guest Editor
Department of Soil, Plant and Food Sciences, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, 70121 Bari BA,Italy
Interests: soil fertility; plant nutrition; plant biostimulants; fertilizers; pesticides
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Editor-in-Chief, the Editorial Board, and the Guest Editors, Plants is very pleased to announce the Call for papers for a Special Issue that will comprise selected, extended plant-related papers presented during the First Joint Meeting on Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019) “Natural and Human-Induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production” held on 23–26 September 2019 at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute (CIHEAM) in Valenzano, Italy (https://spss2019.azuleon.org/).
Contributors are welcome to submit original research, method, opinion, and review articles related to the topics covered during the meeting, including i) natural and agricultural systems, ii) food safety, iii) plant responses to natural and human-induced drivers, and iv) frontiers in plant sciences.
Papers selected for this Special Issue will be subjected to a rigorous peer-review procedure with the aim of the rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Prof. Claudio Zaccone
Prof. Michela Schiavon
Dr. Silvia Celletti
Prof. Teodoro Miano
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. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). 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

  • rhizosphere
  • nutrient cycling and availability
  • hormones
  • antioxidants
  • transcriptomics
  • proteomics
  • metabolomics
  • food production
  • sustainability
  • fertilizers
  • toxic elements
  • biostimulants

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Selected Plant-Related Papers from the First Joint Meeting on Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019)—“Natural and Human-Induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production”
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091132 - 01 Sep 2020
Abstract
The First Joint Meeting on Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019), titled “Natural and Human-Induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production”, aimed at integrating different scientific backgrounds and topics flowing into the Critical Zone, where chemical, biological, physical, and geological [...] Read more.
The First Joint Meeting on Soil and Plant System Sciences (SPSS 2019), titled “Natural and Human-Induced Impacts on the Critical Zone and Food Production”, aimed at integrating different scientific backgrounds and topics flowing into the Critical Zone, where chemical, biological, physical, and geological processes work together to support life on the Earth’s surface. The SPSS 2019 meeting gathered the thoughts and findings of scientists, professionals and individuals from different countries working in different research fields. This Special Issue comprises a selection of original works on the plant-related topics presented during this international meeting. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Effect of Animal ByProducts Fertilization on Durum Wheat in Mediterranean Conditions: Preliminary Results
Plants 2020, 9(9), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9091094 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study aims to evaluate the effects of new-BioFertilizing Amendments (BFAs) deriving from fast organic matter decomposition of Animal ByProducts (ABPs) in comparison with ordinary soil organic amendments (compost), mineral N-fertilizers and no fertilization, on durum wheat development and production in a field [...] Read more.
This study aims to evaluate the effects of new-BioFertilizing Amendments (BFAs) deriving from fast organic matter decomposition of Animal ByProducts (ABPs) in comparison with ordinary soil organic amendments (compost), mineral N-fertilizers and no fertilization, on durum wheat development and production in a field trial under Mediterranean conditions. Results showed taller plants with heavier spikes and greater vigor in plots fertilized with BFAs when compared to no fertilization and N-fertilization, respectively. Likewise, BFAs fertilization resulted in higher protein content, gluten content, protein yields and higher values of yellow index with respect to no fertilization and N-fertilization. In contrast, lower values for test weight in correspondence of BFAs fertilization as well as no statistically significant differences on grain yield and gluten index were found. These preliminary results suggest that replacing N-fertilization with BFAs can be effective to ensure crop quality and yield stability in Mediterranean conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Selenium Enrichment Enhances the Quality and Shelf Life of Basil Leaves
Plants 2020, 9(6), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9060801 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The biofortification of leafy vegetables with selenium (Se) is a good way to increase human dietary Se intake. In addition, selenium delays plant senescence by enhancing the antioxidant capacity of plant tissues, decreasing postharvest losses. We investigated the effects of selenium addition on [...] Read more.
The biofortification of leafy vegetables with selenium (Se) is a good way to increase human dietary Se intake. In addition, selenium delays plant senescence by enhancing the antioxidant capacity of plant tissues, decreasing postharvest losses. We investigated the effects of selenium addition on the production and quality of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) leaves of two harvesting phases, hereafter referred to as cuts, during the crop cycle. Plants were hydroponically grown and treated with 0 (control), 4, 8 and 12 mg Se L−1 as selenate. To evaluate the growth, nutritional value and quality of the basil leaves, selected qualitative parameters were determined at harvest and after five days of storage. Application of Se at varying rates (4, 8 and 12 mg L−1) was associated with an increased leaf selenium concentration in the first, but not the second cut. The application of Se significantly affected the antioxidant capacity as well as the total phenol and rosmarinic acid contents at harvest. The reduction in ethylene production observed in the plants at 4 mg Se L−1 after five days of storage suggests that this Se treatment could be used to prolong and enhance the shelf-life of basil. The daily consumption of 10 g of Se-enriched basil leaves, which, as an example, are contained in a single portion of Italian pesto sauce, would also satisfy the recommended selenium supplementation in humans. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Microalgal Extracts from Chlorella vulgaris and Scenedesmus quadricauda on Germination of Beta vulgaris Seeds
Plants 2020, 9(6), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9060675 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) is a commercially important biennial root crop, providing about 20% of the world’s annual sugar production. Seed quality is crucial for adequate plant growth and production. The productivity of sugar beet is often limited by [...] Read more.
Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) is a commercially important biennial root crop, providing about 20% of the world’s annual sugar production. Seed quality is crucial for adequate plant growth and production. The productivity of sugar beet is often limited by heterogeneous germination in the field. In order to improve the sugar beet germination process, the effect of different concentrations of microalgal extracts from Chlorella vulgaris or Scenedesmus quadricauda was investigated by calculating several indices useful to evaluate the germination performance. Moreover, root morphological analysis was performed by using WinRHIZO software. B. vulgaris seeds were soaked with five different concentrations (from 0.1 to 10 mg Corg/L) of the microalgal extracts, considering the amount of organic carbon (Corg) in each extract. Our results show that these microalgal extracts exert a positive effect on sugar beet germination, by increasing efficiency and regularity of this critical process for B. vulgaris seeds. The best results, in terms of germination indices as well as root morphological traits, were reached by using C. vulgaris extract at the concentrations C2 (1 mg Corg/L) and C3 (2 mg Corg/L). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Isolation and Screening of Extracellular PGPR from the Rhizosphere of Tomato Plants after Long-Term Reduced Tillage and Cover Crops
Plants 2020, 9(5), 668; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050668 - 25 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria provide an innovative solution to address challenges in sustainable agro-ecosystems, improving plant growth as well as acting as agents of biocontrol. In this study autochthonous bacteria were isolated from the rhizosphere of processing tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.) [...] Read more.
Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria provide an innovative solution to address challenges in sustainable agro-ecosystems, improving plant growth as well as acting as agents of biocontrol. In this study autochthonous bacteria were isolated from the rhizosphere of processing tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.) cultivated with conservation agriculture practices (i.e., reduced tillage and cover crops), and evaluated for both growth-promoting activities (PGPAs), and antagonistic potential against the phytopathogenic pest Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Considering the several activities of PGPR, we decided to structure the screening with a hierarchic approach, starting from testing the capability of fixing nitrogen. The obtained bacteria were processed through the molecular typing technique rep-PCR (Repetitive Extragenic Palindromic) in order to discriminate microbial strains with the same profiles, and identified via 16S rDNA sequencing. Thirty-eight selected isolates were screened in vitro for different activities related to plant nutrition and plant growth regulation as well as for antifungal traits. Isolated bacteria were found to exhibit different efficiencies in indoleacetic acid production and siderophore production, phosphate solubilization and biocontrol activity against the widespread soil-borne plant pathogen S. sclerotiorum. All the 38 bacterial isolates showed at least one property tested. With a view to detect the suitable candidates to be developed as biofertilizers, the selected isolates were ranked by their potential ability to function as PGPR. Thus, consortium of native PGPR bacteria inoculants may represent a suitable solution to address the challenges in sustainable agriculture, to ensure crop yield and quality, lowering the application of chemicals input. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mars Regolith Simulant Ameliorated by Compost as in situ Cultivation Substrate Improves Lettuce Growth and Nutritional Aspects
Plants 2020, 9(5), 628; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050628 - 14 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Heavy payloads in future shuttle journeys to Mars present limiting factors, making self-sustenance essential for future colonies. Therefore, in situ resources utilization (ISRU) is the path to successful and feasible space voyages. This research frames the concept of planting leafy vegetables on Mars [...] Read more.
Heavy payloads in future shuttle journeys to Mars present limiting factors, making self-sustenance essential for future colonies. Therefore, in situ resources utilization (ISRU) is the path to successful and feasible space voyages. This research frames the concept of planting leafy vegetables on Mars regolith simulant, ameliorating this substrate’s fertility by the addition of organic residues produced in situ. For this purpose, two butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. capitata) cultivars (green and red Salanova®) were chosen to be cultivated in four different mixtures of MMS-1 Mojave Mars simulant:compost (0:100, 30:70, 70:30 and 100:0; v:v) in a phytotron open gas exchange growth chamber. The impact of compost rate on both crop performance and the nutritive value of green- and red-pigmented cultivars was assessed. The 30:70 mixture proved to be optimal in terms of crop performance, photosynthetic activity, intrinsic water use efficiency and quality traits of lettuce. In particular, red Salanova® showed the best performance in terms of these quality traits, registering 32% more phenolic content in comparison to 100% simulant. Nonetheless, the 70:30 mixture represents a more realistic scenario when taking into consideration the sustainable use of compost as a limited resource in space farming, while still accepting a slight significant decline in yield and quality in comparison to the 30:70 mixture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Strigolactones Control Root System Architecture and Tip Anatomy in Solanum lycopersicum L. Plants under P Starvation
Plants 2020, 9(5), 612; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050612 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The hormones strigolactones accumulate in plant roots under phosphorus (P) shortage, inducing variations in plant phenotype. In this study, we aimed at understanding whether strigolactones control morphological and anatomical changes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) roots under varying P supply. Root traits [...] Read more.
The hormones strigolactones accumulate in plant roots under phosphorus (P) shortage, inducing variations in plant phenotype. In this study, we aimed at understanding whether strigolactones control morphological and anatomical changes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) roots under varying P supply. Root traits were evaluated in wild-type seedlings grown in high vs. low P, with or without exogenous strigolactones, and in wild-type and strigolactone-depleted plants grown first under high vs. no P, and then under high vs. no P after acclimation on low P. Exogenous strigolactones stimulated primary root and lateral root number under low P. Root growth was reduced in strigolactone-depleted plants maintained under continuous P deprivation. Total root and root hair length, lateral root number and root tip anatomy were impaired by low strigolactone biosynthesis in plants grown under low P or transferred from low to no P. Under adequate P conditions, root traits of strigolactone-depleted and wild-type plants were similar. Concluding, our results indicate that strigolactones (i) control macro- and microscopic changes of root in tomato depending on P supply; and (ii) do not affect root traits significantly when plants are supplemented with adequate P, but are needed for acclimation to no P and typical responses to low P. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phytoremediation Potential of Crop Plants in Countering Nickel Contamination in Carbonation Lime Coming from the Sugar Industry
Plants 2020, 9(5), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9050580 - 02 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The phytoremediation potential of four crop species cultivated on carbonation lime coming from the sugar industry with water-soluble nickel (Ni) exceeding the Italian legal limit of 10 µg L−1 was assessed. Two autumn–winter species (spinach and canola) were tested with and without [...] Read more.
The phytoremediation potential of four crop species cultivated on carbonation lime coming from the sugar industry with water-soluble nickel (Ni) exceeding the Italian legal limit of 10 µg L−1 was assessed. Two autumn–winter species (spinach and canola) were tested with and without the addition of bentonite in a greenhouse experiment in order to overcome prolonged unfavourable weather conditions. Two spring-summer species (sunflower and sorghum) were grown in outdoor boxes. Plant species were selected among crops of interest for phytoremediation and their rotation throughout the year enable to maintain a permanent vegetation cover. Nickel concentration in different plant tissues and the concentrations of soluble and bioavailable Ni in lime were measured. In the greenhouse study, soluble Ni decreased below the legal limit in all the tests, and the combined effect of bentonite and plants reduced Ni in lime mainly in the bioavailable fraction. Spinach and sunflower emerged to be more suitable for phytoextraction than canola and sorghum, because of the higher concentration of the metal in the epigeal portions. The results from the outdoor experiment highlighted that sorghum has a good phytostabilisation potential since its ability to accumulate Ni mainly at the root level and to attract a significant amount of bioavailable Ni in the rhizosphere. This study arose from a real scenario of environmental contamination and investigated the potential of different approaches on the bioremediation of a specific industrial waste product. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Comparing Salt Tolerance at Seedling and Germination Stages in Local Populations of Medicago ciliaris L. to Medicago intertexta L. and Medicago scutellata L.
Plants 2020, 9(4), 526; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9040526 - 19 Apr 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Salt stress is one of the most serious environmental stressors that affect productivity of salt-sensitive crops. Medicago ciliaris is an annual legume whose adaptation to agroclimatic conditions has not been well described. This study focused on the salinity tolerance of M. ciliaris genotypes [...] Read more.
Salt stress is one of the most serious environmental stressors that affect productivity of salt-sensitive crops. Medicago ciliaris is an annual legume whose adaptation to agroclimatic conditions has not been well described. This study focused on the salinity tolerance of M. ciliaris genotypes compared to M. intertexta and M. scutellata in terms of plant growth, physiology, and biochemistry. Salt tolerance was determined at both germination and early seedling growth. Germination and hydroponic assays were used with exposing seeds to 0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 mM NaCl. Among seven genotypes of M. ciliaris studied, Pop1, 355, and 667, were most salt tolerant. Populations like 355 and 667 showed marked tolerance to salinity at both germination and seedling stages (TI ≤1, SI(FGP) > 0 increased FGP 20% and SI(DW) < 0 (DW decline ≤ 20%); at 100 mM); while Pop1 was the most salt tolerant one at seedling stages with (TI =1.79, SI(FGP) < 0 decline of FGP ≤ 40% and with increased DW to 79%); at 150 mM NaCl). The genotypes, 306, 773, and M. scutellata, were moderately tolerant to salt stress depending on salt concentration. Our study may be used as an efficient strategy to reveal genetic variation in response to salt stress. This approach allows selection for desirable traits, enabling more efficient applications in breeding methods to achieve stress-tolerant M. ciliaris populations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Proteomics Revealed Distinct Responses to Salinity between the Halophytes Suaeda maritima (L.) Dumort and Salicornia brachiata (Roxb)
Plants 2020, 9(2), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9020227 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Plant resistance to salinity stress is one of the main challenges of agriculture. The comprehension of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in plant tolerance to salinity can help to contrast crop losses due to high salt conditions in soil. In this study, [...] Read more.
Plant resistance to salinity stress is one of the main challenges of agriculture. The comprehension of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in plant tolerance to salinity can help to contrast crop losses due to high salt conditions in soil. In this study, Salicornia brachiata and Suaeda maritima, two plants with capacity to adapt to high salinity levels, were investigated at proteome level to highlight the key processes involved in their tolerance to NaCl. With this purpose, plants were treated with 200 mM NaCl as optimal concentration and 500 mM NaCl as a moderate stressing concentration for 14 days. Indeed, 200 mM NaCl did not result in an evident stress condition for both species, although photosynthesis was affected (with a general up accumulation of photosynthesis-related proteins in S. brachiata under salinity). Our findings indicate a coordinated response to salinity in both the halophytes considered, under NaCl conditions. In addition to photosynthesis, heat shock proteins and peroxidase, expansins, signaling processes, and modulation of transcription/translation were affected by salinity. Interestingly, our results suggested distinct mechanisms of tolerance to salinity between the two species considered, with S. brachiata likely having a more efficient mechanism of response to NaCl. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainability Perspectives of Vigna unguiculata L. Walp. Cultivation under No Tillage and Water Stress Conditions
Plants 2020, 9(1), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9010048 - 30 Dec 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Nowadays, agriculture is facing the great challenge of climate change which puts the productivity of the crops in peril due to unpredictable rain patterns and water shortages, especially in the developing world. Besides productivity, nutritional values of the yields of these crops may [...] Read more.
Nowadays, agriculture is facing the great challenge of climate change which puts the productivity of the crops in peril due to unpredictable rain patterns and water shortages, especially in the developing world. Besides productivity, nutritional values of the yields of these crops may also be affected, especially under low mechanization and the low water availability conditions of the developing world. Conservation agriculture (CA) is a topic of emerging interest due to the provision of adequate yields and reduced environmental impact, such as greenhouse gas emissions, by being based on three main principles: minimum soil disturbance (reduced or no tillage), cover crop maintenance, and crop rotation. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of CA management on the growth performance and the nutritional profile of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp), a pulse of African origin, commonly known as black eye bean under field conditions. A field experiment was designed to assess the effect of conventional tillage (CT) and no-tillage (NT) combined with the usage of a set of cover crops, coupled to normal and deficient water regimes. Cowpea was revealed to be able to grow and yield comparably at each level of the treatment tested, with a better ability to face water exhaustion under CA management. After a faster initial growth phase in CT plots, the level of adaptability of this legume to NT was such that growth performances improved significantly with respect to CT plots. The flowering rate was higher and earlier in CT conditions, while in NT it was slower but longer-lasting. The leafy photosynthetic rate and the nutritional profile of beans were slightly influenced by tillage management: only total starch content was negatively affected in NT and watered plots while proteins and aminoacids did not show any significant variation. Furthermore, significantly higher carbon and nitrogen concentration occurred in NT soils especially at the topmost (0–5 cm) soil horizon. These findings confirm the capability of CA to enrich soil superficial horizons and highlight that cowpea is a suitable crop to be grown under sustainable CA management. This practice could be pivotal to preserve soils and to save agronomical costs without losing a panel of nutrients that are important to the human diet. Due to its great protein and aminoacidic composition, V. unguiculata is a good candidate for further cultivation in regions of the word facing deficiencies in the intake of such nutrients, such as the Mediterranean basins and Sub-Saharan countries. Full article
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