The human diet is characterized by highly energetic molecules, but it also requires non-energetic compounds that are equally useful for cell functioning and for preserving the organism's health status. These “functional” molecules are represented by a wide variety of plant secondary metabolites, such as terpenoids, vitamins and polyphenols with antioxidant power. Widespread commercial crop varieties often contain scarce levels of functional molecules, because they have been mostly selected for productivity, rather than for the content of secondary metabolites. Different scenarios (global economic situation, foreseeable environmental changes) are pushing farmers to review the use of high yield crops and to focus on the valorization of locally-adapted plants. This renewed interest is strengthened by the growing need of consumers for functional foods with beneficial effects on human health and by the willingness to promote sustainable low-input agricultural practices exploiting local climate, soil, water, and (micro)biota. Here, we want to discuss a specific case study concerning locally-adapted crops in Tuscany (Italy). Analyses of nutraceutical molecules in locally-grown crop varieties (namely tomatoes, sweet cherries and onions) have shown that they are characterized by substantially higher functional molecule contents than commercial varieties. Our goal is to promote the high-throughput study of locally-adapted varieties to understand, in a medium-term perspective, whether the cultivation of such plants is a valuable support for the diet and an adequate local economic resource. Such plants can provide a boost to the regional economy, by diversifying the local crop-market landscape. Moreover, the exploitation of locally-grown plants results in the manufacture of fully-traceable products (from the raw bioresource to the finished product) with a “0 km” concept that minimizes the C footprint.

Berni, R., Romi, M., Cantini, C., Hausman, J., Guerriero, G., Cai, G. (2019). Functional Molecules in Locally-Adapted Crops: The Case Study of Tomatoes, Onions, and Sweet Cherry Fruits From Tuscany in Italy. FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 9, 1-8 [10.3389/fpls.2018.01983].

Functional Molecules in Locally-Adapted Crops: The Case Study of Tomatoes, Onions, and Sweet Cherry Fruits From Tuscany in Italy

Berni, Roberto
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
Romi, Marco
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
Cantini, Claudio
Writing – Review & Editing
;
Cai, Giampiero
Writing – Review & Editing
2019-01-01

Abstract

The human diet is characterized by highly energetic molecules, but it also requires non-energetic compounds that are equally useful for cell functioning and for preserving the organism's health status. These “functional” molecules are represented by a wide variety of plant secondary metabolites, such as terpenoids, vitamins and polyphenols with antioxidant power. Widespread commercial crop varieties often contain scarce levels of functional molecules, because they have been mostly selected for productivity, rather than for the content of secondary metabolites. Different scenarios (global economic situation, foreseeable environmental changes) are pushing farmers to review the use of high yield crops and to focus on the valorization of locally-adapted plants. This renewed interest is strengthened by the growing need of consumers for functional foods with beneficial effects on human health and by the willingness to promote sustainable low-input agricultural practices exploiting local climate, soil, water, and (micro)biota. Here, we want to discuss a specific case study concerning locally-adapted crops in Tuscany (Italy). Analyses of nutraceutical molecules in locally-grown crop varieties (namely tomatoes, sweet cherries and onions) have shown that they are characterized by substantially higher functional molecule contents than commercial varieties. Our goal is to promote the high-throughput study of locally-adapted varieties to understand, in a medium-term perspective, whether the cultivation of such plants is a valuable support for the diet and an adequate local economic resource. Such plants can provide a boost to the regional economy, by diversifying the local crop-market landscape. Moreover, the exploitation of locally-grown plants results in the manufacture of fully-traceable products (from the raw bioresource to the finished product) with a “0 km” concept that minimizes the C footprint.
Berni, R., Romi, M., Cantini, C., Hausman, J., Guerriero, G., Cai, G. (2019). Functional Molecules in Locally-Adapted Crops: The Case Study of Tomatoes, Onions, and Sweet Cherry Fruits From Tuscany in Italy. FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 9, 1-8 [10.3389/fpls.2018.01983].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11365/1067201