Foto del docente

Giovanni Dinelli

Full Professor

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences

Academic discipline: AGR/02 Agronomy and Field Crops


Keywords: Organic farming Crop physiology Functional and nutraceutical compounds Quality of crop productions Cereals and legume crops

The main area of the investigations, carried out by the research group coordinated by Prof. Giovanni Dinelli, concerns the physiology, biology and ecology of crops and spontaneous vegetal species. The main research topic is related to the study of expression physiology of nutraceutical compounds (mainly flavonoids) synthesized by different major and minor crops (mainly cereals and legumes) with the aim the aim to improve the knowledge on the role of primary production on functional food. In particular, the researches are focused on the relationships between crop genotype and the expression of functional compounds (i.e., secondary metabolites) as a function of applied agro-technique and environmental factors (with emphasis on main abiotic stresses). This main research activity is complemented with different collaborations with researchers of the University of Bologna and of other national and international Universities, aimed to investigate the effects of transformation technologies (with emphasis on bread and pasta) on the content of functional compounds in the final food, as well as to determine the role of intestinal macro-biota (probiotics) and prebiotics (mainly vegetal fibres) on their bioavailability and absorbption in humans. 
The experimental trials are carried out in open fields, greenhouses and growth chambers. The experimental determinations include chemical (HPLC, GC and capillary electrophoresis equipped with different detectors) and molecular analyses based on PCR reaction (PCR real-time). For specific determinations related to plant physiology radiolabel compounds are employed with detection with beta-counter and phosphor imager.  

For the research topic of crop physiology and functional compounds, actually the following research activities are carried out

The first research activity deals with the study of expression physiology of different functional compounds in soft and durum wheat, as possible source of bioactive compounds for food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries. At the present, fibers (soluble and insoluble) are the well characterized functional component of wheat, even if different other seed compounds, such as lignans, phenolic acids, polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, tocopherols and tocotrienols  possess a wide range of biological activities. The researches are focused on actual and “old” soft and durum wheat accessions: the available wheat collection includes more than 30 different “old” wheat genotypes (not yet cultivated). The different accessions are characterized for the content of different functional compounds with the aim to complete their phytochemical profiles and to define the relationships between environmental factors, agro-tecniques (conventional vs organic farming), genotypes and the expression of investigated functional compounds. The different accessions are also characterized for their rheological properties and protein quality.

The second research activity is carried out on different accessions of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L) and lucerne (Medicago sativa L) as a source of isoflavones (phytoestrogens) and melatonine. The investigations include the determination of the isoflavones and melatonine content as a function of controlled abiotic and biotic stresses. Molecular analyses are carried out on the main key enzymes involved in the bio-synthesis of phytoestrogens and melatonin. The researches are aimed to define the opportune productive parameters for the obtainment of seedlings (for both direct consumption and for the preparation of nutraceutical integrators) containing the phytostrogen/melatonine complex.        

The third research activity concerns the evaluation of the functional properties of cauliflower and strawberry, grown in open field according to conventional and organic farming. The aim of the experimental trials is to identify the effects of different agronomic approaches on the synthesis and accumulation of bioactive compounds. Tests on the anti-oxidant activities and quali-quantitative determinations of glucosinolates (cauliflower) and polyphenols are carried out.

The fourth research activity concerns the study of the physiological mechanisms involved in the synthesis of secondary metabolites in different model crop species (soybean, common bean, white and red clover). The investigations are aimed to evaluate the effects of different elicitations (chemical compounds, physical stresses) on the bio-synthesis of polyphenols at green tissue and seed level. The studies includes the quail-quantitative determinations of polyphenols and molecular analyses, based on PCR real-time, on the expression of the key enzymes involved in the synthesis of polyphenols.