Ph.D. Horticultural Science
Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano - Italy
Tel. 02 50316589, Fax 02 50316575
Coordinator of Italian Postharvest Group - SOI
Main research topics:
Transcriptome changes under stresses : the identification of quality markers is very important for monitoring and assessing the quality during postharvest. In the frame of a research project funded by EU – QUAFETY – a transcriptome profile was determined in control and stresses rocket. Pre-harvest and post-harvest differential expressed genes have been studying as potential quality markers.
Quality of fresh-cut vegetables: the quality of vegetables after harvest can be preserved and rarely improved, surely can be lost. During storage leafy vegetables such as rocket, spinach, lettuce and lamb’s lettuce undergo many physiological deterioration processes. The research studies are focused on the metabolic changes that affect the oxidant systems and substances such as carotenoids, polyphenols, ascorbic acid, etc. The carotenoids are compounds with antioxidant proprieties. In the human diet the most part of carotenoids come from the vegetables. They are powerful antioxidants that may help to prevent age-related macular degeneration and diseases. Polyphenolics are the major antioxidant present in the vegetables and can be classified in several groups on the base of the structural and functional characteristics. The antioxidant ability depends from the number and location of hydroxy groups. Epidemiological studies have suggested a role of certain polyphenolics in preventing carcinogenesis, reducing the free radicals and inducing the oxidative repair system. The ascorbic acid is another important soluble in water that inhibits oxidative reactions. In the humans the ascorbic acid has anti-scorbutic proprieties and enhances the absorption of non-heme iron. It may protect against oxidative or stress related and age-related diseases, coronary heart diseases and certain cancers. Unfortunately the ascorbic acid can be easily destroyed during the fresh-cut preparation process. Therefore it is very important to preserve all these compounds during storage until to reach the end-users.
Nitrate metabolism in leafy vegetables: the main research activity is focused on the nitrogen metabolism in leafy vegetables grown in hydroponics. Currently we have been working on the activation or inhibition of the enzymes involved in the nitrate uptake and assimilation in spinach plants grown in limited oxygen conditions. Genes involved in nitrate uptake such as nitrate transporter have been isolated and other unknown genes encoding for enzymes related to nitrate metabolism have been studying. The isolated genes will be studied in normoxia and anoxia conditions and during different lightening conditions. Cross species microarray hybridization has been used for understanding gene activation under anoxia conditions in spinach roots.
Floriculture: the research is focused on the leaf yellowing, a postharvest disorder, of some sensitive cut flowers such as alstroemeria, stock, chrysanthemum, lilium etc. The loss of leaf colour, before that flowers wilt, reduces the economic value and the commercialisation of cut flowers. Leaf yellowing is a form of leaf senescence that occurs when the chlorophyll is degraded and disappears. Treatments with cytokinins and gibberellins are able to inhibit or delay the chlorophyll degradation. A potent inhibitor of leaf yellowing has been recently discovered, it is the thidiazuron (TDZ) that is able to inhibit the leaf yellowing, even if leaves or cut flowers are placed in darkness. It is a substitute of phenyl-urea that is commonly used as plant growth regulator.
Recent published papers:
1. Iqbal N., Trivellini A., Masood A., Ferrante A., Khan N. 2013. Current understanding on ethylene signaling in plants: the influence of nutrient availability. Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 73: 128-138.
2. Cavaiuolo M., Paramithiotis S., Drosinos E.H., Ferrante A. 2013. Development and optimization of an ELISA based method to detect Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157 in fresh vegetables. Analytical Methods, 5(18): 4622-4627.
3. Pacifici S., Ferrante A., Mensuali-Sodi A. 2013. Effect of mild vacuum packaging on cut Matthiola incana L. flowers vase life. Australian Journal of Crop Science, 7(6): 861-869.
4. Trivellini A., Jibran R., Watson L.M., O'Donoghue E., Ferrante A., Sullivan K., Dijkwel P., Hunter D.A. 2012. Carbon-deprivation-driven transcriptome reprogramming in detached developmentally-arresting Arabidopsis inflorescences. Plant Physiology 160: 1357-1372.
5. Ferrante A., Trivellini A., Malorgio F., Carmassi G., Vernieri P., Serra G. 2011. Effect of seawater aerosol on leaves of six plant species potentially useful for ornamental purposes in coastal areas. Scientia Horticulturae 128(3): 332-341
6. Antonacci S., Natalini A., Cabassi G., Horner D., Ferrante A., 2011. Cloning and gene expression analysis of the phospholipase C in wounded spinach leaves during postharvest storage. Postharvest Biology and Technology 59: 43-52.