Foto del docente

Francesco Orsini

Full Professor

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences

Academic discipline: AGR/04 Vegetable and Ornamental Crops


Keywords: Vegetable Crops Urban Horticulture Vertical Farming

International research experience

He was a visiting scientist at Purdue University (Indiana, USA, 4 months, 2005-2006), the Universidad de Cuernavaca (Mejico 1 month, 2006), the Federal University of Piaui (Brazil, one month, 2006), and Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (Brazil, one month, 2012), the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo (Peru, 2 months, 2002), the IRTA (Barcelona, Spain, one month, 2012) and the Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena (Spain, three months 2016 and three months 2019), and Wageningen University and Research (4 months, 2018).

Main research areas:

1) Tolerance of plants to stress

- The morphology function stomata in response to salt stress;

- ABA and proline function in response to salt stress.

- Use of wild species, ecotypes and transgenic plants for understanding the mechanisms of tolerance;

- Elements of cross-tolerance between heat stress and salinity.

- Function of molecules involved in tolerance to biotic stress in response to salt stress.

2) Management of mineral nutrition in vegetable crops

- Dynamic management of nitrogen nutrition through adoption of optical instruments

- Interactions between absorption of nitrogen and sulphur

- Strategies for reducing the nitrate content in plant tissues

3) Horticultural cropping systems: energy balances and CO2 emissions

- Analysis of production systems on open air and protected environments in the Mediterranean

- Life Cycle Analysis, identification of critical points, characterization of emissions and environmental impact

4) Urban Horticulture

- Simplified soilless gardens developed for urban contexts of both the industrialized and developing countries.

- Water and nutrient efficiency in the urban environment

- Contamination risk in urban grown vegetables

Project design

The following research proposal were designed by dr. Orsini:

Coordinator, Food Systems in European Cities (FoodE), EU H2020 CE-SFS-24-2019.

Coordinatore, Sustainable Vertical Farming (VFarm), Progetti di Ricerca di Interesse Nazionale

Partner coordinator, INtegrated and Circular Technologies for Sustainable city region FOOD systems in Africa (INCiTiS-FOOD), EU H2020.

Partner Coordinator, Fighting against food insecurity by promoting ecological micro-gardening in Europe (BEST Microgardens), EU Erasmus+KA2.

Partner coordinator, Innovative Indoor Farming Applications for Future Urban Farmers (InnoFarming), EU Erasmus+ KA2.

Partner coordinator, Villa Salus as innovative space for social inclusion (SalusWSpace), EU Urban Innovative Actions.

Partner coordinator, Urban Horticulture for Innovative and Inclusive Early Childhood Education (GardensToGrow), EU Erasmus+ KA2.

Partner coordinator, Western Balkans Urban Agriculture Initiative (BUGI), Erasmus+ 586304-EPP-1-2017-BA-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP.

Participant, Urban Green Train (Urban Green Education for Enterprising Agricultural Innovation), EU (Erasmus+ KA2, 2014-1-IT02-KA200-003689).

Participant HORTIS (Horticulture in Towns for Inclusion and Socialisation), EU (LLP-Grundtvig, 526476-LLP-1-2012-1-IT-GRUNDTVIGGMP

Participant, Efficiente uso delle risorse per ridurre l'impiego di fertilizzanti azotati e ottimizzare le produzioni in sistemi orticoli integrati e conservativi, MIUR (PRIN 2008), 2008KL73BE_001

Participant, SustGreenhouse: The Sustainable Greenhouse, EU (Life+) LIFE07 ENV/IT/000516


Dr. Orsini has played the role of expert for the H2020 projects evaluation (SFS and Marie Curie) for the European Commission. It has carried out comparative evaluation for the position of associate professor in urban horticulture at the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU). It is the referent of the University of Bologna for Hortivar, the FAO database on varietal performance in fresh horticultural fruits and vegetables. Has realized consultations as an expert for several international organizations involved in rural development projects or environmental recovery in Peru, Kenya, Kosovo, Brazil, Myanmar, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde and Kazakhstan, including international bodies (FAO), private entities (Agip-KCO), and NGOs (Terre des Hommes, Cesvitem, Caritas, IPSIA, AES-CCC).

Participation in international research groups
Member of the management committee of the Italian Society for Horticultural Sciences (SOI-HS) and Chair of the Working group on Urban Horticulture of the International Society for Horticultural Sciences (ISHS). Coordinates the test activities on wild halophytes conducted by a team of researchers from the universities of Tebessa, Ouargla and M'sila (Algeria), and research on rootstocks for the melon tolerant to salt stress with the Corvinus University of Budapest ( Hungary) and Ege Izmir (Turkey), and the study of the life cycle analysis (LCA) in horticulture with the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona and IRTA (Spain).

Ownership of patents
Dr. Orsini is a founding member of Horticity Ltd. (founded in 2006). For the Department of Agricultural Sciences, is a co-author of the invention of the "AUTOMATIC IRRIGATION SYSTEMS FOR LIVING WALLS system" whose patent has been registered with code 102016000104872.

Participation in international conferences
Manages fluently, in addition to the Italian language, the languages English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
He participated in more than 20 national and international conferences, and is Convenor of the International Symposium “Greener Cities for More Efficient Ecosystem Services in a Climate Changing World” ( ), that will be held in Bologna, Italy on 12-15 September 2017, and member of the organizing committee of the 2nd International Conference on Landscape and Urban Horticulture (Bologna, Italy, 9-13 June 2009, and editor of the relative volume of proceedings. He has held the following plenary presentations at the opening of the conferences:
- Multifunctional Urban Horticulture, at the Open Day of the Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2016.

- Innovation in Urban Agriculture, at the International Investors Exhibition, held in Venice, Italy, on October 14, 2016.

- Urban agriculture in Arid Environments, at the conference "Allotment gardens in European Cities", held in Thessaloniki (Greece) 17-19 March 2016.
- Abiotic stress tolerance in vegetable crops, at the conference: "The Preservation et la Mise en Valeur de l'écosystème Steppique", held in M'sila (Algeria) 14-16 March 2010.

Prizes and Awards
In 2014 he succesfully passed the national evaluation for associate professor. In 2010 he won the "Young Researchers Award" of the Italian Society for Horticultural Sciences (SOI-HS) for the scientific value of the publication "Systemin-dependent salinity tolerance in tomato: evidence of specific convergence of abiotic and biotic stress responses" (Orsini et al., 2010. Physiologia Plantarum 138: 10 -21). He won for Early Stage Researcher two Short Term Scientific Missions as part of COST projects "Urban Agriculture Europe" and "Urban Allotment Gardens in European Cities”.

It is referee of the Journal of Experimental Botany, Journal of Plant Physiology, Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, Environmental and Experimental Botany of the Sciences and the Journal of Food and Agriculture, and member of the editorial boards of several volumes of ACTA Horticulturae.