Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Georgofili is a compound word made up of two terms, georgo and filo and means “for the love of agriculture” or “friends of agriculture”.

The academy’s emblem contains the symbols of agriculture dedicated to the goddess Ceres (an ear of wheat, an olive branch and a bunch of grapes) as well as those associated with economic activity and commerce dedicated to the god Mercury (a caduceus: a winged wand with twined snakes).

Even the motto Prosperitati Publicae Augendae (to increase public welfare) highlights how the Georgofili Academy’s activities have always been focused on the public interest.

SANGIOVESE UNGRAFTED

The Sangiovese is the most valuable, famous, and widespread red-wine grape variety in central Italy. Its origin and provenance are uncertain. Some studies of the historical and angiographic sources have highlighted two distinct nuclei, one in the Romagna hills and the other in the Tuscan hills, whereas the germoplasm differences between the two nuclei might highlight a common ancient origin with a subsequent differentiation over the centuries. As the legend goes, the name derives from a bishop’s exclamation, who, in the Middle Ages, finding himself on Mount Giovi in the Apennine ridge of Mount Morello, after tasting this full-bodied wine compared it to Jove’s thunderbolts and the god’s strong and warm blood (sanguis Jovis). Meanwhile, Francesco Redi, already by 1655 a fellow of the Accademia della Crusca, wrote in his work Bacco in Toscana (1685), "If the pleasing blood of grapes does not refresh our veins all the time, this life is too weak, too short, and always amid a sea of pain. [...] But if you ask for the purplish drink from Lappeggio, you will dry up all the wine in the cellar." In his work, Redi refers to Falerno, the ancient Roman wine known in the late Republican era of ancient Rome. What is certain is that Sangiovese’s origins are lost in the mists of time.

Climate change and fruit-bearing trees in temperate climates

European fruit-farming is mainly concentrated in Mediterranean countries, with most of the cultivars currently grown needing between 600-700 and 1000-1200 hours of winter cold (conventionally computed from October to February below 7.2°C), in line with the normal climate trend. With the progressive rise in winter temperatures that has accelerated in the last few years, cold weather is more and more frequently registered as no more than 500-600 hours, making again relevant a problem that had seemed resolved.
In the 1950s and 60s, many peach cultivars, mainly introduced from the United States (Georgia, Michigan, and New Jersey), had problems in southern Italy with their need for cold with the subsequent early drop of flower buds. The problem for this species was overcome following the importation of cultivars mainly from California and, for the milder southern areas, from Florida, two states whose climates are very similar to that of southern Italy.
The on-going climate change and the current distribution of fruit-farming, of apricot trees especially and of cherry trees in part in southern Italy (Basilicata and Sicily, in particular), is actually presenting the problem of environmental adaptability of various cultivars of these species.

Role of endophytic bacteria in modern agriculture

Plants host distinct microorganism communities on and inside various of their compartments; the diversity of microbes associated with healthy plants is enormous, fungal and other eukaryotic species can be found but a critical importance is attributed to the remarkable richness of beneficial bacteria. In particular, endophytes colonize the internal parts of plants and can be isolated from various surface-sterilized plant portions. 
Plant-microbe interactions can positively influence plant growth through a variety of mechanisms, including fixation of atmospheric nitrogen by different classes of proteobacteria, increased biotic and abiotic stress tolerance imparted by the presence of endophytic microbes, direct and indirect advantages conferred by plant growth–promoting rhizobacteria, by the production of phyto-hormones or by enhancing availability of minerals or translocating those directly from soil to plant, as the case of mycorrhizal fungi. Bacteria can also positively interact with plants by producing protective biofilms or antimicrobials operating as biocontrols against potential pathogens, or by degrading plant- and microbe-produced compounds in the soil that would otherwise be allelopathic or even autotoxic.