Department of Agronomy
Chair of fruit growing, viticulture and vegetable growing
Chair of Phytomedicine, Agricultural Engineering, Crop Production
Type of project
Research Programmes/Infrastructural Centres
Type of project
01.01.2015 - 31.12.2021
ARRS FTE value
Project manager at BFVeberič Robert
The performance of horticultural plants is in close correlation with different technological measures and biotic and abiotic specifics of the environment they inhabit. Physiological responses of plants to their environment are reflected in their growth and development, yield and crop quality. In addition to primary metabolites which markedly define the taste of produce, the ecological functions of secondary metabolites are progressively investigated. Alongside numerous functions of bioactive compounds in the plant itself, these molecules greatly influence human health and their well-being.
The research program Horticulture (P4-0013) has been implemented at the Department of Agronomy, Biotechnical faculty, since 2003. The longtime head of the program was prof. dr. Franci Štampar and recently, prof. dr. Robert Veberič leads the research program. Individual researchers and research groups from the Department of Agronomy and Department of Landscape Architecture comprise the group. Currently, 16 researchers, 5 technicians and several junior researchers actively participate in the research program Horticulture. Horticultural plants are studied at various levels: from gene expression and enzyme activity to the analysis of primary/secondary metabolites and consequently, to the physiological response of plant tissue, organ or the entire organism. From the initial investigation of various phenolics groups, the research of secondary metabolites has been extended to other important classes of metabolites. Recent research has focused on the synthesis of glucosinolates in cruciferous plants, betalains in horticultural plants of the Caryophyllales order and other nitrogen-containing compounds with allelopathic and repellent effects in selected plant species. An important field of investigation is the class of terpenoids, predominantly carotenoids. Moreover, the function and potential application of plant hormones in horticultural practices are being explored. In addition to the effect of the environment on the content of metabolites in horticultural plants we strive to elucidate the role of these compounds in various interactions: plant-plant (allelopathy), plant-pathogenic organism (defense mechanisms) and plant-useful organism (attractants). The study of interactions between the plants and beneficial/harmful organisms is a promising platform for further development of biotic plant protection.
Our past research results and their relevance in scientific literature, the existing laboratory equipment and cooperation with other research groups in Slovenia and abroad enable us to maintain a high level of research. Since 2016 we have published the following articles in the category of exceptional research: an article on the impact of plant decapitation on the quality of Brussels sprouts (Jakopič et al., 2016), an article on the content of health-harmful and health- beneficial compounds in seeds selected fruit plants of the Rosaceae family (Šenica et al., 2017), an article on the phenolic response of grapevine to esca complex fungal infection (Rusjan et al., 2017) and an article on the synthesis and content of phenolics in red walnut kernels (Peršić et al., 2018). The program group is proud of two new walnut cultivars ('Krka' and 'Sava', main breeder scientific counsellor dr. Anita Solar) and four new cultivars of sweet potato ('Vilma', 'Janja', 'Lučka' and 'Martina', breeder assoc. prof. dr. Dragan Žnidarčič). Prof. dr. Rajko Bernik also participated in the development of a patent for a multifunctional appliance for manure distribution in the fields. The most cited articles in the past 10 years investigated biochemical composition of sweet cherry (Usenik et al., 2008), figs (Veberič et al., 2008), elderberry (Veberič et al., 2009) and selected berry fruit (Mikulič Petkovšek et al., 2012). The results of our research are frequently presented to the wider scientific and professional public as well as included in the study process. The application aspects of our research are included in existing and new technological processes.