Ph.D. Horticultural Science

Associate Professor at University of Milan

Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano - Italy

Tel. 02 50316589, Fax 02 50316575

President of section of floriculture and vegetables of SOI


AIR UNIMI ID 6350; ResearcherID: B-1927-2008; RG: AF; Google Scholar citations


Main research topics:


Biostimulants in agriculture: the research topics are related to evaluate the effect of biostimulants or prototypes for improving the yield and quality of vegetables. Biostimulants are also studied for enhancing the crop tolerance against abiotic stresses.


Transcriptome changes under abiotic 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.


Mineral nutrition of 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 main research topic is to understand the physiological and biochemical mechanisms behind the leaf and flower senescence in ornamental plants. Leaf senescence and in particular leaf yellowing, a postharvest disorderof some sensitive cut flowers such as alstroemeria, stock, chrysanthemum, lilium etc., compromises the ornamental values of the plants. The loss of leaf colour, before flower senescence is a postharvest problem that 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. Roversi T., Ferrante A., Piazza L., 2016. Mesoscale investigation of the structural properties of unrefined cell wall materials extracted from minimally processed salads during storage. Journal of Food Engineering 168: 191-198.
2. Cavaiuolo M., Cocetta G., Bulgari R., Spinardi A., Ferrante A., 2015. Identification of innovative potential quality markers in rocket and melon fresh-cut produce. Food Chemistry 188: 225–233.
3. Trivellini A., Ferrante A., Hunter D.A., Pathirana R., 2015. Agrobacterium tumefaciens -mediated transformation of axillary bud callus of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. ‘Ruby’ and regeneration of transgenic plants. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 121: 681–692.
4. Trivellini A., Cocetta G., Vernieri P., Mensuali-Sodi A., Ferrante A., 2015.
Effect of cytokinins on delaying petunia flower senescence: a transcriptome study approach. Plant Molecular Biology  87:169–180.
5. Baldassarre V., Cabassi G., Spadafora N., Aprile A., Müller C., Rogers H., Ferrante A., 2015. Wounding tomato fruit elicits ripening stage-specific changes in gene expression and production of volatile compounds. Journal of Experimental Botany 66: 1511-1526.