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2023 Speakers

Ilaria Chiocchio

Ilaria Chiocchio, Speaker at Plant Science Conferences
University of Bologna, Italy
Title : 1H NMR-based metabolomic approach to study Sorghum bicolor crops in view of smart agriculture applications


Global population growth, climate changes and resources exploitation make it urgent to develop sustainable and smart agricultural practices. In this framework, an upgraded knowledge of plant-environment interactions is required, and a suitable approach is represented by untargeted metabolomics coupled with agro-climatic studies. This work is focused on Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench, the fifth most important cereal cultivated for food, feed, fiber and fuel. Agricultural assessments and 1H NMR based-metabolomics analysis were carried out on grain sorghum cultivated on 12 different fields of Emilia-Romagna (Northern Italy). Plant samples were collected at three different stages: seedlings, vegetative and ripeness. Thus, the relationships between agro-climatic parameters and metabolome variations of leaves, stems, and grains were investigated through multivariate data treatment. Moreover, antioxidant activity of grain was also measured by BCB in vitro test.

The results of PCA highlighted qualitative and quantitative differences among the metabolomes of the twelve sorghum crops. Dhurrin, 4-OH-benzhaldeyde, rutin, sugars, organic acids and amino acids were the most varying metabolites. The content of these metabolites resulted (by OPLS model) affected by water supply and soil features such as clay and organic carbon content. The PLS-DA model provided information on the degree of sorghum development on the basis of leaf metabolome. Moreover, the analysis of seedling metabolome resulted a valuable tool to predict, and eventually prevent, the low grain yield. Metabolomic profiling resulted also useful to detect the potential occurrence of dhurrin in grain, which must be kept at very low content for good quality grain.

In conclusion, the results obtained in this work encourage the use of ‘omic’ approach to support and extend agronomic studies. A first data set is also provided, which might be shared and implemented, tackling the need to develop smart agriculture practices.

What will audience learn from your presentation?

  • Explain how the audience will be able to use what they learn? Through this talk the audience will learn the potential of metabolomics and how to employ it to agronomic study.
  • How will this help the audience in their job? This talk provides new insights into sustainable agriculture.
  • Is this research that other faculty could use to expand their research or teaching? Yes.
  • Does this provide a practical solution to a problem that could simplify or make a designer’s job more efficient? Yes.
  • Will it improve the accuracy of a design, or provide new information to assist in a design problem? Yes.
  • List all other benefits.


Ilaria Chiocchio is a Postdoc at the department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology of University of Bologna (Italy). Her background is in natural product chemistry and her work includes NMR and MS based metabolomics analysis and classic phytochemical techniques which she carried on both on her home University and abroad. After her MSc in Biology (Vanvitelli University, Caserta, IT), she got a fellowship to work as guest researcher at University of Leiden (NL), and during her PhD in Health Safety and Green Systems (University of Bologna, IT) she obtained a grant to carry on a research project at iDiv (DE).

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