Foto del docente

Moreno Toselli

Associate Professor

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences

Academic discipline: AGR/03 Arboriculture and Fruitculture


Keywords: Abbe Fetel Compost Soil sikness disease Calcium Carbon partitioning Priming effect Pomegranate root development Melia azedarach Nitric N

Evaluation and use of organic fertilizers from agro-food related industrial process and domestic waste to ameliorate soil fertility and tree nutrient uptake. Architecture, morphology and physiology of tree root system. Root growth turnover and life span. Biochemical aspects of lime-induced iron chlorosis. Sustainable strategies to prevent Fe-deficiencies of fruit trees. Evaluation of natural extract in fruit tree management. In vivo researches on biological activity of plant derivatives (Meliaceae, Brassicaceae, Amaranthus, etc.). Nitrogen partitioning within the tree as affected by the timing of N application, with special emphasis on fruit quality and storage suitability. Nitrogen uptake under root stress conditions. Nitrogen and carbon partitioning within the fruit tree (using environmentally friendly stable isotopes such as 15N and 13C). Time of application for the highest fruit quality, and the lowest risk of N losses into the ground water. The use of soil salinity and calcium supply as a tool to increase pear tolerance to disease such as brown spot. Agronomical and chemical evaluation of pomegranate as a source of nutraceutic juice. Use of biochar in orchard fertility management

Compost from municipal solid waste represents an excellent organic fertilizer. It is cheap largely available with a potential of promoting soil fertility and tree nutritional status. At the same time compost allows to reach two important goals: 1) it can replace successfully other, more expensive, mineral and organic fertilizers such as cow manure, 2) it can increase the volume of waste recycling as required by the Italian legislation. However it is not completely known yet the effect of long term application of compost on environment contamination, soil chemical and physical properties and tree nutritional status. In particular the regular application of organic material can increase the availability of soluble nutrients in soil to promote a higher rate of root uptake, with consequent improvement of vegetative growth, tree yield, and fruit mineral concentration.

The roots system has diverse function including nutrient and water absorption, anchorage and storage. Fine laterals roots associated with the absorptive portion of the root system may be replaced once or several times per year. Typically, only the finest two orders of roots have an important role in nutrient absorption and represent the most dynamic portion of the root system. The application of organic matter and the consequent microbial decomposition lead to heterogeneity distribution of nutrients in the soil this is mainly due to the variations of release and diffusion of inorganic ion deriving from organic matter degradation and can be considerably high. The effect of OM on root proliferation is not only due to the increase of  inorganic ions in the soil but it can also be associated to the presence of humic substances released by organic matter. The addition of organic matter to the soil can stimulate the microbial biomass and the release of N and C, following the response named ‘priming effect'. This response is studied in relation to soil addition of neem cake and melia leaf derivatives.

Armillaria root rot, which can be caused by several members of the basidiomycete genus Armillaria, occurs all over the world on a wide variety of forest ( e.g. Abies, Picea, Pinus, Pseudotsuga)and fruit trees (e.g. Citrus, Juglans, Malus, Prunus, Vitis) in a range of climates. The infection causes a general state of suffering, with poor terminal growth and undersized, curled leaves on major limbs. Infected peaches may collapse suddenly during summer with most of the leaves still attached at the plant. In peach orchards in the Po valley, where the disease is caused primarily by Armillaria mellea (Vahl.) P. Kumm., there is an extensive tree mortality during replanting of orchards resulting in considerable economic losses to producers. Since none of the available rootstock is immune and all fumigants are scheduled for imminent phasing out, biological control of Armillaria root rot seems to be one of the best way to go and has been pursued for a number of years. If dead or dying roots could be colonized by an effective competitor of A. mellea before their removal, the extent of root colonization by A. mellea could be reduced, thereby decreasing the threat to adjacent trees and/or subsequent plantings. Such competitors may be found among species of Trichoderma, arbuscolar mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and actinobacteria. Another strategy involve the use of plant derivatives of Brassicaceae such as B. Juncea or B. nigra, rich in glucosinolates that in presence of soil moisture and the enzyme mirosinase produce isothiocianates that are toxic for a number of pathogens, nemathodes and insects. The aim of the following study is to evaluate the effect of commercial products with Trichoderma and AMF and some derivatives of Brassicaceae on root growth and A. mellea infection in peach tree.

Lime-induced iron (Fe) chlorosis represents the most important nutritional disorder of susceptible fruit crops especially when cultivated on alkaline-calcareous soils which represent approximately 39% of world soils. Fe chlorosis in crops occurs mainly as a consequence of a scarce solubility of mineral Fe sources in the soil and of a reduced Fe uptake by the symplast, induced by the soil active lime fraction. Fe-deficiency decreases leaf photosynthetic pigment concentrations, especially chlorophyll. Recent findings pointed out physiological alterations of leaf morphology, stomatal control, xylem vessel morphology, leaf hydraulic conductance and leaf water potentials of chlorotic peach leaves, indicating that Fe deficiency implies pronounced disturbances in leaf water relations. Fe chlorosis depresses yield and fruit quality, decreases tree vigor and shortens orchard productive lifetime. In alkaline-calcareous soils, when quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.) is adopted as rootstock, pear is one of the species most susceptible to Fe chlorosis. Although synthetic Fe-containing compounds such as Fe-chelate (e.g., Fe-EDDHA) are usually effective in overcoming Fe-deficiency disorder, they induce a short-lasting re-greening effect, are expensive and represent a risk of water table contamination. Current agriculture requires sustainable and costeffective alternative strategies to overcome lime-induced Fe chlorosis on susceptible crops. Preliminary reports indicate that soil-applied aqueous extracts of some herbaceous species (e.g., Urtica dioica L., Amaranthus retroflexus L.) may prevent Fe chlorosis symptoms in potted pear trees also improving, at low concentrations, the nutritional status and vegetative growth. In addition, Amaranthus spp. (commonly pigweed) residues mixed with exogenous iron sulphate (FeSO4) were more effective than Fe-EDDHA in reducing Fe chlorosis and increasing plant dry matter and grain yields in sorghum plants grown on severely Fe-deficient soil. The aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that soil-applied aqueous extract of A. retroflexus can be effective in preventing Fe chlorosis of fruit trees.

Brown spot (Stemphylium vesicarium) is one of the most important diseases affecting two of the main varieties (Abbé Fetel and Conference) of the Italian pear industry causing heavy yield losses. The ineffectiveness of chemical control, the increasing resistance of the fungus to the most recent synthetic molecules (e.g. strobirulin) along with the demand for sustainable orchard management drive research toward integrated control strategies. Recently, soil applied calcium chloride (CaCl2) has shown a positive effect on the control of symptoms of brown spot in pear leaves. This response was related to an increase in leaf calcium (Ca) concentration. Chemical forms of Ca, such as that bound as pectate in the middle lamella is involved in the organization of cell wall and potentially confers strength against fungal and bacterial infections. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the effectiveness of soil- and leaf-applied CaCl2 on: 1) the incidence of brown spot in pear leaves and fruits; 2) the involvement of the fractions of Ca in the host tissues in the relationship between host and pathogen.

Walnut and pomegranate may represent a suitable alternative to the traditional fruit species such as peach, apple, pear etc, that are facing persisting market problem and low price. Both fruits are reach in functional component that make them among the nutraceutic food. The agronomical problem along with the composition of the fruits are among the topic studied.