About this Research Topic
The agriculture of the 21st century is prompted to face the challenge of global food security to an increasing world population, in a context of prominent climate change and progressive depletion of natural resources. Within this scenario, the existing gap between potential and actual yields in horticultural and woody perennial crops, along with the concerns about the availability of phytonutrients in human nutrition, is expected to grow in the future, driven by the rising impact of biotic and abiotic stressors on plants’ adaptation to the growth environments. For these reasons, improving food quality and resource use efficiency in agricultural systems, along with a more sustainable management of the emerging pests and diseases accompanying global warming, are among the agricultural imperatives to ensure yield stability and provision of essential nutrients to future generations.
In this context, grafting is expected to play a growing role in modern agriculture, because of the possibility to combine the desired traits of two independently selected genotypes for root and shoot characteristics. Nowadays, the ameliorative effects arising from the rootstock-scion interactions are well documented on several traits, such as yield potential, canopy structure and vigor, fruit ripening period and tolerance/resistance to soil borne and foliar pathogens and pests. When suboptimal growth conditions are concerned, grafting has proven to effectively enhance plants’ tolerance to thermal stress, drought or flooding, nutrient deficiency or toxicity, soil salinity, pH abnormalities or organic pollutants.
Moreover, there are growing evidence of rootstock-mediated effects on fruit compositional and sensory traits. Such functional interdependence involves a complex, bidirectional communication network among the two plant parts, including the exchange of water, nutrients, hormones, peptides, nucleic acids or other metabolites, according to mechanisms whose physiology and determinism remain largely unknown. A better understanding of the physiological and molecular aspects underpinning these rootstock-scion interactions will certainly allow in the future to improve the genetic and agronomic potential of many fundamental crops for human nutrition, within a framework of greater agricultural sustainability.
Based on these considerations, this Research Topic aims to update the current knowledge about the plant rootstock-scion interactions in horticultural and woody perennial crops, under the light of the most recent physiological, biochemical, molecular and omics advances. We welcome Original Research, Reviews, Methods, Opinions and Perspectives bringing novel insights into the interpretation of relevant phenomena of grafted plants, related to:
- Cross-talk among rootstock and scion
- Graft compatibility/incompatibility among botanical taxa
- Graft-induced gene regulatory networks
- Interactions among rootstock and soil biota
- Response to biotic and abiotic stressors
- Sensory and phytonutrient profile of fruits and vegetables and their postharvest behavior
- Shifts in yield potential and resources use efficiency under optimal or suboptimal growth conditions
Keywords: horticultural crops, woody perennial crops, grafting, graft-mobile signals, resources use efficiency, food quality, pests and diseases resistance, omics tools
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