Environmental pressure poses a major challenge to the agricultural sector, which requires the development of cultivation techniques that can effectively reduce the impact of abiotic stress affecting crop yield and quality (e.g., thermal stress, wind, and hail) and of biotic factors, such as insect pests.
The increased consumer interest in premium-quality vegetables requires the implementation of sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) strategies towards an ever-increasing insect pressure, also boosted by cultivation under protected structures. In this respect, insect nets represent an excellent, eco-friendly solution. This review aims to provide an integrative investigation of the effects of the insect screens in agriculture. Attention is dedicated to the impact on growth, yield, and quality of vegetables, focusing on the physiological and biochemical mechanisms of response to heat stress induced by insect screens.
The performance of insect nets depends on many factors—foremost, on the screen mesh, with finer mesh being more effective as a barrier. However, finer mesh nets impose high-pressure drops and restrict airflow by reducing ventilation, which can result in a detrimental effect on crop growth and yield due to high temperatures. The predicted outcomes are wide ranging, because heat stress can impact (i) plant morpho-physiological attributes; (ii) biochemical and molecular properties through changes in the primary and secondary metabolisms; (iii) enzymatic activity, chloroplast proteins, and photosynthetic and respiratory processes; (iv) flowering and fruit settings; (v) the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROSs); and (vi) the biosynthesis of secondary biomolecules endowed with antioxidant capacity.
Formisano, Luigi & El-Nakhel, Christophe & Corrado, Giandomenico & De Pascale, Stefania & Rouphael, Youssef. (2020). Biochemical, Physiological, and Productive Response of Greenhouse Vegetables to Suboptimal Growth Environment Induced by Insect Nets. Biology. 9. 1-21. 10.3390/biology9120432.