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Open access

Michael J. Bradshaw, Luis Quijada, Patrick C. Tobin, Uwe Braun, Cindy Newlander, Tom Potterfield, Élan R. Alford, Carlos Contreras, Allen Coombes, Swarnalatha Moparthi, Erin Buchholz, Daniel Murphy, Wade Enos, Amy Fields-Taylor, Anna Bower, and Donald H. Pfister

Botanical gardens have extensive spatial databases of their plant specimens; however, the fungi occurring in them are generally unstudied. Botanical gardens, with their great plant diversity, undoubtedly harbor a wide range of symbiotic fungi, including those that are plant-pathogenic. One such group of fungi is powdery mildews (Erysiphaceae). The powdery mildews are among the most prevalent and economically important plant pathogens in the world, with an estimated 906 species in 19 genera. They are known to infect more than 10,000 species of flowering plants and although some species occur across a range of hosts, many are associated with specific plants. Powdery mildews have undergone a long and dynamic coevolution with their host plants, resulting in co-speciation. Botanical gardens provide a living laboratory in which to study these fungi, leading to a wealth of undiscovered fungal diversity. Furthermore, monitoring pathogens in botanical gardens has led to important ecological findings related to the plant sciences and plant protection. Between 2018 and 2022, a collaborative citizen science project was established with 10 botanical gardens in the United States and Mexico. A total of more than 300 powdery mildew specimens were collected on 220 different host taxa. We sequenced the entire internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and large subunit (LSU) rDNA loci and phylogenetically and morphologically analyzed these collections revealing 130 species, of which 31 are likely unknown to science. This research highlights the importance of botanical gardens as a reservoir of fungal diversity. Future research will further elucidate the coevolutionary relationship between powdery mildews and their hosts and extend the current study to evaluate other plant pathogens and fungi in botanical gardens.

Open access

Juan Zhou, Xuetao Ma, Yaxin Zhao, Sijie Wang, Chen Lian, Jingran Lian, and Yan Ao

Open access

Qian-nan Diao, Yan-yan Cao, Hong Wang, Yong-ping Zhang, and Hai-bin Shen

The objective of the present study was to consider the regulatory role of exogenous nitric oxide (NO) supplementation in response to chilling stress impose alterations on different physiological parameters in melon seedlings. Melon seedlings were treated with sodium nitroprusside (SNP, an NO donor), hemoglobin (a NO scavenger), NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (an NO synthase inhibitor), and tungstate (a nitrite reductase inhibitor) under chilling stress conditions. The results showed that exogenous SNP improves the growth of melon seedlings under chilling stress conditions and ameliorates the harmful effects of chilling stress by increasing the levels of chlorophyll and soluble solutes, elevating the activity of sucrose phosphate synthase by enhancing the expression level of CmSPS. Moreover, exogenous NO significantly enhances the expression of genes and activities of antioxidant enzymes under chilling stress, resulting in lower reactive oxygen species accumulation. However, the protective effects of SNP are reversed by both NO scavenging and inhibition. Collectively, our results reveal that NO has the ability to ameliorate the harmful effects of chilling stress on melon seedlings by regulating carbohydrate metabolism and the antioxidant defense system.

Open access

Jing-Jing Zou, Gaoling Wu, and Zhenqi Wang

Open access

Erik Feibert, Clint Shock, Stuart Reitz, Alicia Rivera, and Kyle Wieland

Each year ≈24,000 acres of onions (Allium cepa) are produced in the Treasure Valley of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho, which accounts for 20% of U.S. dry-bulb onion acreage. Onions in this region are long-day onions and are irrigated by either furrow irrigation or drip irrigation, with drip irrigation having become the predominant system in the past 10 years. Onion production in the Treasure Valley faces many biotic pressures and changing market conditions that renders cultivar development and testing of critical importance to the onion industry. Direct-seeded yellow, white, and red onion cultivars have been evaluated yearly at the Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, in Ontario, OR, USA, since 1975. From 2010 to 2020, 10 onion seed companies participated in the trials. There were 21 to 32 yellow cultivars, two to 10 red cultivars, and one to seven white cultivars entered in the trial each year. Only five cultivars were entered all 11 years. Total yields for the yellow cultivars ranged from an average of 680 cwt/acre in 2010 to 1277 cwt/acre in 2018, and averaged 961 cwt/acre over the 11 years. Yield of yellow bulbs larger than 4 inches (colossal and super colossal) ranged from 13% in 2010 to 61% in 2018, and averaged 34% over the 11 years. Single centered yellow bulbs ranged from 46% in 2013 to 70% in 2014. Total yields for the red cultivars averaged 520 cwt/acre and total yield of white cultivars averaged 988 cwt/acre over the 11 years. Over the 11 years, single-centered bulbs of red cultivars averaged 65% and single-centered bulbs of white cultivars averaged 45%. Some newer cultivars show improvements in single centeredness, resistance to Iris yellow spot virus, and yield of larger bulbs over cultivar Vaquero, which was released in 1993, indicating the success of breeding efforts. Yields of five yellow cultivars that were in the trials every year since 2010, increased over time. This increase can be partly attributed to improvements in cultural practices over the years: adoption of drip irrigation, more intensive nutrient management, refined onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) control, and higher plant population.

Open access

Erin L. Treiber, Laise S. Moreira, and Matthew D. Clark

The University of Minnesota Grape Breeding Program has developed cold-hardy wine grape cultivars that have facilitated the establishment of an economically important grape industry for the Midwest region. In recent years, the program has renewed efforts to breed cold-hardy table grapes. Table grapes might require postharvest storage if they are to be transported or stored for any period of time. Rachis dehydration, berry splitting, and decay can affect the postharvest quality of table grapes. In this study, we evaluated these postharvest traits in six released cultivars and nine advanced selections in the breeding program. For two growing seasons, we used industry standard packaging to assess postharvest traits (rachis dehydration, berry splitting, decay, and overall acceptability) at 2, 4, and 6 weeks of cold storage at 2.2 °C. The growing season had a significant effect on postharvest traits; therefore, the two were examined separately. There were significant differences in postharvest storage times for all traits, except berry splitting in 2020. Mean rachis dehydration reached unacceptable values (>3) after 4 weeks of postharvest storage in 2019 and after 6 weeks in 2020. All other trait means remained acceptable for many cultivars even after 6 weeks of postharvest storage. Advanced selections performed at and above the level of released cultivars, suggesting that selections will perform well in cold-hardy regions. The data collected regarding fruit quality and postharvest storage for two seasons will help to inform and improve breeding of cold-hardy grape cultivars.

Open access

Marcellus Washington, Mark Farnham, David Couillard, H. Tyler Campbell, Brian K. Ward, and Matthew Cutulle

Increased broccoli production in the eastern United States necessitates the exploration of novel concepts to improve weed management in this region. Currently, there are minimal selective postemergent herbicide options available for broccoli growers in the southeastern United States. Research was conducted to determine if bentazon, an effective nutsedge herbicide, could be used safely for broccoli when tank-mixed with chelated iron in both greenhouse and field settings. Initial greenhouse screens in Charleston, SC, demonstrated that when 224 g⋅ha−1 active ingredient of chelated iron was tank-mixed with bentazon, a reduction in injury occurred in most of the cultivars that were evaluated. However, based on injury ratings, yield parameters, and broccoli quality observed in the field, it appears that the applications of chelated iron yielded no positive effects. Furthermore, for some of the broccoli cultivars it appeared to exacerbate bentazon injury in the field.

Open access

Bernadine C. Strik, Amanda J. Davis, Patrick A. Jones, and Chad E. Finn

‘Mini Blues’ highbush blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) was released in 2016 as a high-quality, machine-harvestable alternative to lowbush (V. angustifolium Ait.) or other small-fruited highbush blueberry cultivars for processed markets. A planting was established in Oct. 2015 in western Oregon to evaluate the effects of pruning method on yield, machine-harvest efficiency (MHE), berry weight and total soluble solids (TSS), leaf tissue nutrients, pruning weight, pruning time, and costs. Plants were pruned for shape and to remove flower buds in 2015–16 and 2016–17. Pruning treatments began in 2017–18 and included: 1) conventional highbush pruning (HB); 2) removing one or two of the oldest canes per bush (Speed); 3) leaving plants to grow from 2017 to 2021 (Unpruned) before doing a hard renovation prune in 2021–22 (cutting the plants back to a height of ≈0.3 m and leaving the best 8–10 canes/plant); and 4) hedging after fruit harvest in 2018 (Hedge) and then unpruned afterward until renovation in 2021–22. The pattern of yield progression, observed wood aging, and reduced berry size after 4 years of no pruning indicated renovation was necessary in the unpruned and hedge treatments. Low growth was removed each year in all treatments, and hedging was only done in 2018 because it severely reduced yield the following year and, therefore, was not a viable option. An over-the-row machine harvester was used from 2018 to 2021. Speed-pruned plants, averaged over 4 years, had the greatest potential yield (3.75 kg/plant) compared with the other treatments (averaged 2.99 kg/plant) but had a similar yield as HB because more fruit remained on the bush after harvest with speed pruning. In 2021, speed pruning resulted in the highest yield (4.2 kg/plant), followed by HB (3.8 kg/plant) and the unpruned and hedge methods (averaged 3.1 kg/plant). MHE increased from 43% in 2018 to 74% in 2021, mainly because, as the plants aged, a larger proportion of the canopy was above the catcher plates on the harvester. On average, MHE was highest with HB pruning (70%), intermediate in the unpruned and speed-pruned plants (59%), and lowest in the hedged plants (49%). In 2021, ground drop loss was highest for hedge (18%), lowest for speed (14%), and intermediate for HB and unpruned (averaged 16%) methods. HB-pruned plants had heavier berries (0.64 g) than unpruned and hedge treatments (averaged 0.57 g) and a similar berry weight as the speed-pruned plants (0.61 g). Pruning had no effect on berry TSS. In contrast to leaf K, leaf Mg and Ca concentrations were lowest in HB and higher in all other treatments. In 2020–21, HB pruning required 471 h·ha−1, while speed pruning took 79 h·ha−1; the hedge and unpruned treatments required an average of 60 h·ha−1 to remove low-growing branches that would interfere with machine harvest. In 2021–22, renovation of the unpruned and hedge treatments took 290 h·ha−1. While leaving bushes unpruned during establishment appears to be a promising option for ‘Mini Blues’, further work is needed to evaluate fruit production after renovation and to determine how long the plants could remain unpruned thereafter. Speed pruning is also a good option, reducing pruning costs by 85%.

Open access

Xunzhong Zhang, Zachary Taylor, Mike Goatley, Jordan Booth, Isabel Brown, and Kelly Kosiarski

Bermudagrass is a warm-season turfgrass species widely used for sports fields, home lawns, and golf courses. Ultradwarf bermudagrass has been used for golf course greens, but its quality declines with abiotic stresses. This 2-year study was designed to investigate if foliar applications of seaweed extract-based biostimulant Utilize® could improve ultradwarf bermudagrass photosynthetic function, nitrate reductase activity, root growth, and root function while under heat stress and drought stress conditions. Utilize® was applied to ultradwarf bermudagrass canopy at 0, 88, 117, 175, and 234 μL⋅m−2. Two weeks after the initial application of Utilize®, bermudagrass was subjected to heat (40/36 °C, day/night) and drought stress (40–50% evapotranspiration replacement) for up to 42 days. Heat stress and drought stress caused decline of the turf quality. Foliar application of Utilize® at 117, 175, and 234 μL⋅m−2 biweekly consistently improved turf quality and leaf color ratings and increased leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid concentrations, net photosynthetic rate, nitrate reductase activity, and root growth and viability. On average, Utilize® at 117, 175, and 234 μL⋅m−2 increased turf quality ratings by 9.1%, 12.1%, and 10.6%, respectively, net photosynthetic rates by 32.4%, 45.0%, and 35.0%, respectively, and nitrate reductase activity by 16.7%, 18.8%, and 14.6%, respectively, compared with the control. Utilize® at 117, 175, and 234 μL⋅m−2 increased the root biomass, root length, surface area, and root volume compared with the control. Utilize® at 88, 117, 175, and 234 μL⋅m−2 increased root viability by 46.2%, 73.1%, 88.5%, and 74.4%, respectively, relative to the control. The results of this study suggest that seaweed extract-based biostimulant Utilize® improves nitrogen metabolism, photosynthetic function, root growth, and root viability. Foliar application of Utilize® at rates between 117 and 175 μL⋅m−2 biweekly can be considered an effective approach to improving ultradwarf bermudagrass performance under heat stress and drought stress environments.

Open access

Jeb S. Fields, Kristopher S. Criscione, and Ashley Edwards

Substrate stratification is an emerging substrate management strategy involving layering multiple substrate materials within a single container to modify physiochemical characteristics of the substrate system. Specifically, stratifying allows growers and researchers to rearrange the air–water balance within a container to modify hydraulic characteristics. Moreover, fertilizer can be incorporated into just the upper strata to reduce leaching. Research to date has shown benefits associated with resource efficiency, production timing, and weed control. With the associated benefits for substrate stratification, interested growers will need pragmatic solutions for onsite trials. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify a cost-effective solution for growers interested in exploring stratification options. As such, this research was designed to identify a single-screen bark separation to generate fine and coarse bark textures suitable for use as the top and bottom substrate strata. Loblolly pine bark (Pinus taeda) was screened with either a 4.0-mm, 1/4-inch, or 3/8-inch screen, with the particles passing through the screen (unders) separated from retained particles (overs). Stratified substrate systems were engineered with an individual screen wherein the fines were layered atop the coarse particles from the same screen. ‘Natchez’ crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) liners were planted in either of the three stratified substrate treatments or a nonstratified control. Substrate physical characteristics were assessed for each strata by pre- and postproduction properties to identify changes of substrate. The final growth index of the crop was unaffected by the substrate treatment (P = 0.90); however, stratified substrates did increase dry root weight (P = 0.02), with the smallest screen (4.0 mm) resulting in the greatest root weight. Separation of roots between the two strata indicated the presence of more roots in the upper strata in all substrates. However, the stratified substrates resulted in a greater shift in root location, encouraging increased rooting in the upper strata with fine particles, with the largest screen (3/8 inch) resulting in the greatest differentiation between upper and lower rooting. Each stratified treatment had increase in water-holding capacity in the lower (coarser) strata without changes in the upper strata. Thus, we conclude that single screens can be used to build stratified substrate systems. Moreover, screen aperture size may be used to achieve different outcomes with regard to root growth and development as well as water–air balance. Further research may indicate that screen selection may be used to target specific crop needs.