Nutritive Value, Polyphenolic Content, and Bioactive Constitution of Green, Red and Flowering Plants-Volume II

A topical collection in Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524). This collection belongs to the section "Postharvest Biology, Quality, Safety, and Technology".

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Editor


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Collection Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80055 Portici, Italy
Interests: horticultural crops; microgreens; protected cultivation; hydroponics; plant biostimulants; nutrient eustress; biofortification; space farming; nutrient recovery from urine
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plants, including vegetables, are an essential element of the human diet, considering their dense nutritional content, concomitant with low-calorie values and bioactive content that could assist in boosting nutritional quality and food security. Plants are exhibiting a colossal rebound in the context of healthier lifestyles, especially as functional foods empowered with bioactive phytochemicals. Impelled by nature’s endowment as suppliers of healthier nutritional foods, a prominent orientation towards plant consumption is thriving. Plants synthesize uncountable “ecochemichals” via secondary metabolism, which command medical and socio-economic significance. Among these secondary metabolites, phenolic compounds are of prime interest and are largely present in medicinal plants, herbs, vegetables, and flowers. These metabolites are at the helm of the bitterness, color, and scent of plants, and are correlated to the beneficial health qualities expressed by the antioxidant capacity. The accretion of these health-promoting phytochemicals depends chiefly on the genetic material and the maturity harvest stage, but notwithstanding the main role that is played by the pre-harvest factors, i.e., eustress, fertilization, irrigation, light, and other agronomic practices.

This Special issue of Horticulturae will gather scientific research that explores innovations or recent studies in boosting plant nutritional qualities including vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Therefore, any review, scientific research, short note, or opinion article that deals with the phytochemical content of plants and boosting methods is appreciated for submission.

Dr. Christophe El-Nakhel
Collection Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 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

  • secondary metabolites
  • phytochemicals
  • beneficial stress
  • functional food
  • pre-harvest factors
  • specialty crops
  • fruit and leafy vegetables

Published Papers (10 papers)

2024

Jump to: 2023, 2022

24 pages, 1542 KiB  
Article
Phytochemical Analysis and Specific Activities of Bark and Flower Extracts from Four Magnolia Plant Species
by Ramona Maria (Iancu) Cristea, Camelia Sava, Ciprian Căpățână and Anastasia Kanellou
Horticulturae 2024, 10(2), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10020141 - 31 Jan 2024
Viewed by 779
Abstract
This study rigorously investigates the bioactive properties and characteristics of extracts derived from the flowers and bark of four distinct Magnolia species: Magnolia champaca, Magnolia denudata, Magnolia grandiflora and Magnolia officinalis. The primary objective is to evaluate the potential application [...] Read more.
This study rigorously investigates the bioactive properties and characteristics of extracts derived from the flowers and bark of four distinct Magnolia species: Magnolia champaca, Magnolia denudata, Magnolia grandiflora and Magnolia officinalis. The primary objective is to evaluate the potential application of these extracts in cosmetics and other relevant industries. We used ethanol to extract compounds from these plants and conducted various tests, including spectrophotometry, HPLC, GC-MS, and microbiological analyses. The extracts, particularly rich in polyphenols (55.18 mg GAE/g), displayed significant antioxidant capabilities, with IC 50 values ranging between 9.99 mg/mL and 23.23 mg/mL. We quantified different compounds: phenolic acids (6.259 to 27.883 mg/g dry weight), aglycone flavonoids (61.224 to 135.788 mg/g dw), glycosidic flavonoids (17.265 to 57.961 mg/g dw), and lignans (150.071 to 374.902 mg/g dw). We identified 76 volatile compounds, predominantly oxygenated monoterpenes and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, which contribute to the antibacterial effectiveness of the extracts. These extracts showed greater inhibitory potential against Gram-negative bacteria than Gram-positive bacteria. The diverse chemical compounds and their demonstrated activities suggest these extracts could be valuable in the cosmetics industry, pharmaceutical industry, or other industries. Full article
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2023

Jump to: 2024, 2022

22 pages, 1876 KiB  
Article
Variability in Chemical Profile and Bioactivities of the Flesh of Greek Pumpkin Landraces
by Maria G. Leichtweis, Adriana K. Molina, Maria Inês Dias, Ricardo C. Calhelha, Tânia C. S. P. Pires, Ourania Pavli, M. Beatriz P. P. Oliveira, Spyridon A. Petropoulos, Lillian Barros and Carla Pereira
Horticulturae 2023, 9(11), 1232; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9111232 - 15 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1116
Abstract
The aim of this study was to evaluate the chemical profile of the flesh and yield parameters of Greek pumpkin genotypes, including nine local landraces and two commercially available cultivars, focusing on valorizing the genetic pool of Cucurbita sp. with high added value [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the chemical profile of the flesh and yield parameters of Greek pumpkin genotypes, including nine local landraces and two commercially available cultivars, focusing on valorizing the genetic pool of Cucurbita sp. with high added value products. Yield parameters (mean fruit weight and total fruit yield) recorded high variability with genotypes V8 and V2 showing the highest fruit yield. Moreover, genotype V11 was the most abundant in glucose and total sugars and scored the highest sweetness index suggesting good taste and promising marketing attributes. The highest antioxidant activity (OxHLIA assay) was assessed in the V8 genotype, while the V2 genotype showed the highest α-, β- and total tocopherols content. Oxalic acid was the main organic acid, followed by malic and citric acids, while organic acid composition varied among the tested genotypes. Moreover, the flesh extracts showed varied antimicrobial activity against several bacteria and fungi, while no toxicity against non-tumor cells was recorded. In conclusion, our results make evident the presence of high innate variability in terms of crop performance, chemical composition and bioactive properties not only between the different genotypes but also at the intra-populational level. This finding is of high importance for the valorization of the local genetic pool of Cucurbita species through the selection of elite genotypes with high yield and quality of fruit, contributing to the conservation of valuable genetic material and limitation of the risk of genetic erosion due to neglect of local landraces. Full article
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17 pages, 2649 KiB  
Article
Synergistic Effect of a Plant-Derived Protein Hydrolysate and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi on Eggplant Grown in Open Fields: A Two-Year Study
by Giuseppe Di Miceli, Lorena Vultaggio, Leo Sabatino, Claudio De Pasquale, Salvatore La Bella and Beppe Benedetto Consentino
Horticulturae 2023, 9(5), 592; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9050592 - 17 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1182
Abstract
Plant biostimulants, such as plant protein hydrolysates (PHs) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM), are natural products capable of increasing the yield and quality of crops and decreasing the ecological impact of plant growing cycles. However, there is little research on the mutual application [...] Read more.
Plant biostimulants, such as plant protein hydrolysates (PHs) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM), are natural products capable of increasing the yield and quality of crops and decreasing the ecological impact of plant growing cycles. However, there is little research on the mutual application of different categories of biostimulants (microbial and non-microbial). The current study was conducted to examine the effects of “Trainer” PH application (0 or 3 mL L−1) and AM (R. irregularis) inoculation on the growth, yield, quality and nitrogen indices of ”Birgah” F1 eggplant cultivated for two years (2020 and 2021). Results revealed that the combined application of PH and AM significantly enhanced total and marketable yields, average marketable fruit weight and number of marketable fruits by 23.7%, 36.4%, 19.0% and 11.1% compared to non-treated plants (control), respectively. Moreover, biostimulants increased the soluble solids content (SSC), chlorogenic acid, total anthocyanins, K and Mg in the fruits by 16%, 4.6%, 6.4%, 8.6% and 23.9% compared to control plants, respectively. Interestingly, the mutual application of PH and AM improved fruit quality by reducing the glycoalkaloid concentration (−19.8%) and fruit browning potential (−38%). Furthermore, both biostimulants exerted a synergistic action, enhancing nitrogen use efficiency and nitrogen uptake efficiency by 26.7% and 18.75%, respectively. On the other hand, productive and fruit-quality features were significantly influenced by the year due to remarkable differences in terms of maximum temperature between the first and second cultivation cycles. Overall, our research underlined that PH and AM can positively interact to improve the performance of eggplant cultivated in open fields. Full article
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18 pages, 1043 KiB  
Article
Biochemical and Nutraceutical Characterization of Different Accessions of the Apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.)
by Aurora Cirillo, Lucia De Luca, Luana Izzo, Marco Cepparulo, Giulia Graziani, Alberto Ritieni, Raffaele Romano and Claudio Di Vaio
Horticulturae 2023, 9(5), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9050546 - 30 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2343
Abstract
The name “Vesuvian apricot” refers to numerous varieties originating from the same production area at the foot of Vesuvius and with a long tradition of cultivation. The importance of the apricot fruit and its derivatives on human health is known thanks to the [...] Read more.
The name “Vesuvian apricot” refers to numerous varieties originating from the same production area at the foot of Vesuvius and with a long tradition of cultivation. The importance of the apricot fruit and its derivatives on human health is known thanks to the presence of several secondary metabolites, many of them being active as antioxidants. This study aims to analyze 12 vesuvian apricot accessions by means of chemical-physical (fruits weights, firmness, TSS, TA, pH, and color fruits) and nutraceutical analyses (acid organic and sugar content, antioxidant activities, and polyphenol content). All the accessions analyzed can be defined as superior-quality apricots because they had TSS values ≥ 13 and a pulp strength ≤ 1 kg/0.5 cm2. Another parameter used to express the quality of apricot fruits was TSS-F (soluble solids content-pulp hardness) which showed a value ≥ 12. The total sugar content ranged from 260.40 mg/g d.w in ‘VM’ to 744.59 mg/g d.w in ‘SC’. In all accessions analyzed the sugar content was in the following order: sucrose > glucose > fructose. The antioxidant activity showed a high variability between the different accessions. Our results show that the Vesuvian apricot accessions present a large range with different organoleptic characteristics and offer the possibility to choose according to consumer and processing preferences. Full article
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15 pages, 758 KiB  
Review
Cultivation, Phytochemistry, Health Claims, and Genetic Diversity of Sambucus nigra, a Versatile Plant with Many Beneficial Properties
by Giandomenico Corrado, Boris Basile, Alessandro Mataffo, Sanaz Yousefi, Seyed Alireza Salami, Anna Perrone and Federico Martinelli
Horticulturae 2023, 9(4), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9040488 - 13 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1790
Abstract
Sambucus is a cosmopolitan plant genus that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and nutritional value. Sambucus nigra, the most studied species, contains a wide range of bioactive compounds that have been linked to various health benefits. Moreover, the [...] Read more.
Sambucus is a cosmopolitan plant genus that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and nutritional value. Sambucus nigra, the most studied species, contains a wide range of bioactive compounds that have been linked to various health benefits. Moreover, the fruit of the elderberry is a rich source of phytochemicals and is used to make a variety of food products. In this review, after an introduction of the species, we outline the main points for its cultivation and production. We then illustrate the major phytochemical components and related beneficial properties, such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, and pharmaceutical activities. We also provide insights into genetic variability, functional diversity, and some evolutionary relationships that were evaluated with DNA-based techniques. We discuss that despite its long history of use and potential benefits, Sambucus nigra has received relatively little attention in terms of horticulture, breeding, and molecular genetics, while studies on its biochemical composition and health benefits are well developed. Further research is also needed to better understand the pre-harvest and post-harvest factors that influence plant growth and production, as well as to explore new applications and industrial uses of this underutilized species. Full article
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15 pages, 2436 KiB  
Article
Growth, Anatomical, and Biochemical Responses of the Space Farming Candidate Brassica rapa L. Microgreens to Low-LET Ionizing Radiation
by Sara De Francesco, Chiara Amitrano, Ermenegilda Vitale, Giulia Costanzo, Mariagabriella Pugliese, Cecilia Arrichiello, Gianluca Ametrano, Paolo Muto, Carmen Arena and Veronica De Micco
Horticulturae 2023, 9(4), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9040452 - 01 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2127
Abstract
An adequate and balanced diet is fundamental in preserving the health of astronauts from several space-induced diseases. Therefore, the integration of a diet with fresh food, rich in bioactive compounds such as microgreens produced directly onboard, may be useful in space for human [...] Read more.
An adequate and balanced diet is fundamental in preserving the health of astronauts from several space-induced diseases. Therefore, the integration of a diet with fresh food, rich in bioactive compounds such as microgreens produced directly onboard, may be useful in space for human nutrition. However, ionizing radiation (IR) in space represents a significant hindrance for organisms, with potential critical outcomes on plant morpho-anatomical, eco-physiological, and biochemical aspects, depending on the plant and IR features (e.g., species, developmental stage, IR dose, and type). In this study, we analyzed the effect of different doses of X-rays (0-control, 0.3, 1, 10, 20, and 30 Gy) on the morpho-anatomical and nutritional traits of microgreens of Brassica rapa L., irradiated at the stage of germinated seeds. After the irradiation, microgreens were cultivated in controlled conditions. At harvest, the morpho-biometric traits were analyzed, along with the leaf functional anatomical traits and the phytochemical content of the aboveground biomass. The results showed that X-ray exposure does not induce detrimental effects on growth, while it stimulates the production of antioxidants, improving plant defense and nutritional value. The overall results support the idea of using this species in space as a supplemental functional food. Full article
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2022

Jump to: 2024, 2023

14 pages, 963 KiB  
Article
Falanghina Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) Yield and Berry Quality under Different Pedoclimatic Conditions in Southern Italy
by Nicola Damiano, Chiara Cirillo, Francesca Petracca, Rosanna Caputo, Arturo Erbaggio, Marco Giulioli and Veronica De Micco
Horticulturae 2022, 8(9), 829; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8090829 - 08 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2085
Abstract
Climate is a determinant driver for grapevine geographical distribution, influencing yield and berry quality. The current environmental changes are intensifying the need to improve the knowledge of the soil–plant–atmosphere system in the vineyard, to properly manage cultivation factors and to increase berry yield [...] Read more.
Climate is a determinant driver for grapevine geographical distribution, influencing yield and berry quality. The current environmental changes are intensifying the need to improve the knowledge of the soil–plant–atmosphere system in the vineyard, to properly manage cultivation factors and to increase berry yield and quality. Since most of the berry growth and ripening phases occur during the driest period in the Mediterranean area, increasing environmental constraints are expected to impose more and more limitations on grapevine productivity and finally on wine quality. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether different pedoclimatic conditions in four proximally located vineyards of the Campania Region in Southern Italy determine differences in crop yield and must quality of Vitis vinifera L. subsp. vinifera “Falanghina”. This study was conducted over three growing seasons, by monitoring vine growth and characterizing yield and must quality. The overall results showed differences in yield and berry quality characteristics for the four vineyards, with the field CA (Calvese) and GR (Grottole) showing pedoclimatic conditions limiting growth and yield compared to SL (Santa Lucia) and AC (Acquefredde). Full article
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17 pages, 1058 KiB  
Article
Modulation of Light and Nitrogen for Quality-Traits Improvement: A Case Study of Altino Sweet Pepper
by Fabio Stagnari, Nadia Ficcadenti, Anna Chiara Manetta, Cristiano Platani, Maria Assunta Dattoli and Angelica Galieni
Horticulturae 2022, 8(6), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8060499 - 04 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1635
Abstract
Local varieties are known to cope more efficiently with stressful and/or low-input conditions than cultivated ones by activating secondary metabolisms and, hence, are supposed to have higher nutraceutical potential. In this work, we investigate the effects of N and light, supplied at optimal [...] Read more.
Local varieties are known to cope more efficiently with stressful and/or low-input conditions than cultivated ones by activating secondary metabolisms and, hence, are supposed to have higher nutraceutical potential. In this work, we investigate the effects of N and light, supplied at optimal and sub-optimal levels, on the fruit yield and quality of a local ecotype of sweet pepper, Altino, grown in the Abruzzo Region (Southern Italy). In 2017, two open-field experiments were carried out, comparing increasing N rates (0, 100 and 200 kg N ha−1, 0_N, 100_N and 200_N, respectively) and different percentages of shading and/or manipulations of the transmitted solar radiation, obtained through photoselective nets (red net, RN; black net, BN; unshaded Control). Both N and light were preconditions to obtain stable yields in terms of both fruit number and fruit weights. However, BN significantly reduced the number of sunscalded fruits (0.39 vs. 3.38 and 2.59 fruit plant−1 for BN, Control and RN, respectively), leading to lower waste. N deficiency favoured higher total polyphenol (TPC) and flavonoid (TFC) contents in ripened fruits; on the other hand, shading significantly reduced TPC (−12.4%) in immature and TFC (−18.2%) in red fruits. The variations in nutraceuticals were also evaluated in terms of the variations of the single phenolic acids in fruits during ripening; the most interesting results were associated with light treatments. Further research should be directed to the in-depth study of nutrition regimes, in combination with other photoselective nets applications (i.e., pearl nets), that could be suitable for the Altino genotype to enhance the yield and nutraceutical potentials of its fruits. Full article
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13 pages, 1032 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Morphological, Qualitative, and Metabolomic Traits during Fruit Ripening in Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.)
by Aurora Cirillo, Anna Magri, Monica Scognamiglio, Brigida D’Abrosca, Antonio Fiorentino, Milena Petriccione and Claudio Di Vaio
Horticulturae 2022, 8(5), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8050384 - 27 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2011
Abstract
Pomegranate is characterized by several local accessions and cultivars widespread across different countries, each with different bio-agronomic features. Physiological and biochemical processes occur during fruit ripening, leading to changes in size, color, and flavor, improving the fruit’s acceptability for the consumer. The aim [...] Read more.
Pomegranate is characterized by several local accessions and cultivars widespread across different countries, each with different bio-agronomic features. Physiological and biochemical processes occur during fruit ripening, leading to changes in size, color, and flavor, improving the fruit’s acceptability for the consumer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the changes in physico-chemical and nutritional traits of three Italian germplasm genotypes (‘Santa Lucia’, ‘Di Benedetto’, and ‘Arborea’) to determine the differences for these parameters both within the same cultivar during four ripening stages, and between individual cultivars in the same ripening stage. Morphological traits and fruit pigmentation showed variation during the ripening process, with higher values at the final stage. The highest fruit weight was detected in ‘Di Benedetto’ (392.19 g), while ‘Arborea’ displayed high juice content. Qualitative traits, such as soluble solids, increased until stage III, while titratable acidity values decreased during the ripening stage in ‘Di Benedetto’ and ‘Arborea’. In all three accessions, a reduction in the total polyphenols up to the III ripening stage was observed. Metabolomic analyses using 1H-NMR (proton nuclear magnetic resonance) showed a variation in citric acid and sugar content according to the ripening stage and accession considered. This study found high variability in nutraceutical traits among the analyzed pomegranates. The three pomegranate genotypes showed significant differences in qualitative and metabolomic characteristics. Principal component analysis revealed the main traits that contribute to the positive and negative correlations with PC1 and PC2, highlighting the great variability in the investigated pomegranate genotypes. Full article
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13 pages, 1818 KiB  
Article
High Light Intensity from Blue-Red LEDs Enhance Photosynthetic Performance, Plant Growth, and Optical Properties of Red Lettuce in Controlled Environment
by Giuseppe Carlo Modarelli, Roberta Paradiso, Carmen Arena, Stefania De Pascale and Marie-Christine Van Labeke
Horticulturae 2022, 8(2), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8020114 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 5213
Abstract
Plant factories using artificial light to produce vegetables have high energy costs due to the high demand for electricity for lighting. Compared to conventional light sources, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offer the possibility of tailoring the light spectrum and regulating light intensity and are [...] Read more.
Plant factories using artificial light to produce vegetables have high energy costs due to the high demand for electricity for lighting. Compared to conventional light sources, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offer the possibility of tailoring the light spectrum and regulating light intensity and are more energy-efficient in terms of energy conversion regardless of the levels of lighting intensity. Optimal light intensity and daily light integral (DLI) requirements are key factors for plant growth; however, their values vary among species and varieties. Our experiment aimed to identify the best light intensity to produce lettuce plants in controlled environment. Lettuce plants of the type Batavia cv ‘Blackhawk’ were grown in plastic pots filled with perlite and peat (20:80 v/v) for 33 days in a growth chamber under blue (B, 20%) and red (R, 80%) LED light at a photosynthetic flux density of 130 µmol m−2 s−1 (BR 130, DLI 7.49 mol m−2 d−1), 259 µmol m−2 s−1 (BR 259, DLI 14.92 mol m−2 d−1), and 389 µmol m−2 s−1 (BR 389, DLI 22.41 mol m−2 d−1). Our results showed that increasing light intensity and DLI promotes net photosynthesis, sustains the electron transport rate (ETR), and stimulates the synthesis of anthocyanins and carotenoids, with positive results for plant photoprotection. Furthermore, the decreases in vegetation indexes (photochemical reflectance index (PRI), greenness, and modified chlorophyll absorption in reflectance index (MCARI1)) also indicate changes in photosynthetic pigment content in response to plant acclimation to different DLIs. Among the three light intensities, 389 µmol m−2 s−1 (DLI 22.41 mol m−2 d−1) gave the best results for growing Batavia red lettuce cv ‘Blackhawk’, since it enhances both production and qualitative traits. These results highlight the importance of a proper light intensity to promote plant growth and qualitative traits and to reach high production targets. Hence, preliminary screening of plant performance under different light treatments is recommended to optimise plant response to artificial lighting. Full article
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