Irregular flowering and biennial bearing are challenging in many apple (Malus ×domestica) cultivars such as Honeycrisp. Apple flowering is influenced by many factors including crop load, fruit weight, seed number, and bourse shoot length. However, it is unclear how these factors exert their control. We investigated flowering in ‘Honeycrisp’ and whether flower formation is regulated locally within the spur or if it is under the control of the whole tree system. Treatments consisting of 30 to 240 fruit per tree with one or two fruit per spur were applied, and seed number, fruit weight, bourse shoot length, bourse number, and resulting flower formation measured. In 2013, flowering was affected by fruit number per tree, fruit number per spur and their interaction, and with lower total tree crop loads, spurs bearing two fruit had fewer flowers than those with a single fruit. In 2014, few spurs formed flowers regardless of treatment. In 2013, flowering was unaffected by seed number on single-fruited spurs but flowering inhibition was correlated with fruit weight. In spurs bearing two fruit, flowering was inhibited by higher seed numbers but fruit weight per spur had no effect on flowering. Our data suggest that both whole tree and within-spur characteristics contribute to local flower formation. Therefore, ‘Honeycrisp’ spurs can be considered semiautonomous organs because inhibition of flower formation appears to be related to the depletion of resources both locally within the spurs, and systematically within the whole tree. The main factors associated with flower formation were fruit number per tree, fruit number per spur, bourse shoot length, and bourse number per spur. In contrast to previous reports, our data show that seeds do not play a direct role in regulating flower formation.
Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a turfgrass species prone to winterkill-induced damage such as from ice encasement stress. This research aimed to determine whether different levels of soil volumetric water content (SWC) influence cold acclimation and recovery from ice encasement. Annual bluegrass was exposed to 8%, 12%, and 20% SWC treatments during cold acclimation in growth chambers. After cold acclimation, plants were subjected to ice encasement by misting at –3 °C until a 2.5-cm ice layer was formed. On 0 (no ice encasement exposure), 40, and 80 days of treatment, plants were analyzed for recovery (percent green canopy cover over time), and leaf, crown, and root tissues were harvested for lipid peroxidation and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) including storage carbohydrates and water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC). Low SWC during cold acclimation enhanced recovery from cold temperatures and ice encasement. Root carbohydrates were influenced by SWC regimes during cold acclimation since day 0 plant roots exposed to the 8% SWC treatment had 143.9% higher TNC and 137.6% higher WSC compared with day 0 plants exposed to 12% and 20% SWC. Root levels of carbohydrates and lipid peroxidation were least influenced by cold and ice encasement among the organs evaluated. Prolonged freezing conditions and ice encasement reduced leaf and crown tissue carbohydrates and increased lipid peroxidation compared with day 0 plants not exposed to freezing temperatures and ice encasement. After 40 days of ice encasement, plants exposed to the 8% SWC treatment recovered faster than plants cold acclimated at higher soil moisture levels. Average percent canopy cover after 36 days of recovery in the greenhouse was 71.9% higher for 8% SWC treated plants than in 12% and 20% SWC treated plants. Turfgrass managers may benefit from annual bluegrass putting green management strategies to reduce fall soil moisture. Given that soil moisture did not significantly influence carbohydrate or lipid peroxidation results, except for in roots, additional research is needed to understand the mechanism associated with these findings.
Apple (Malus ×domestica) growers can incur significant economic losses when fruit drop before they can be harvested [preharvest fruit drop (PFD)]. In some years and cultivars, more than 30% of potential yield can be lost. Growers frequently apply plant bioregulators to reduce PFD, either via delay in maturity [aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG), 1-methylcycolpropene] or via inhibition in production of cell hydrolysis enzymes in the fruit pedicel [naphthalene acetic acid (NAA)]. Finding a physiological indicator of PFD would allow growers to assess the susceptibility of fruit to PFD. Due to its lignification, xylem is believed to be the last tissue to break down in the fruit pedicel, leading to PFD. To determine whether loss in xylem functionality can be used as an indicator of PFD potential, studies were conducted in 2020 and 2021 with ‘Red Delicious’ treated with AVG (132 µL·L−1), NAA (10 µL·L−1), and an ethylene-producing compound [ethephon (150 µL·L−1 in 2020, 200 µL·L−1 in 2021)] to generate a range of PFD potentials. Xylem functionality was assessed in the fruit cortex. Internal ethylene content (IEC), fruit maturity indices, and PFD rates were quantified weekly throughout the harvest period. Expression of genes encoding for cell hydrolysis enzymes (MdEG1 and MdPG2) was quantified to relate xylem functionality to fruit abscission mechanisms. In 2020 and 2021, AVG reduced PFD compared with the untreated control by decreasing IEC. Although ethephon did not result in higher PFD than untreated fruit, NAA reduced PFD in 2020 but not 2021. For all treatments in both years, there was a linear decrease in xylem functionality throughout the measurement period. Cumulative PFD exponentially decreased as xylem functionality neared zero and the climacteric rise in ethylene began. Concurrent with the rise in IEC and PFD was an increase in the expression of MdEG1 and MdPG2 in the fruit pedicel of the control compared with AVG-treated fruit. AVG-treated fruit lost xylem functionality at a similar rate to the untreated control but had lower expression of MdEG1 and MdPG2. These results indicate that xylem functionality is not a sole direct indicator of PFD. The concurrent increase in PFD and expression of MdEG1/MdPG2 supports previous research indicating that these two genes may serve as potential markers for PFD.
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium) is a common ornamental crop with a qualitative short-day flowering response. Extending a short day with moderate blue [B (400–500 nm)] light inhibits flowering in greenhouse conditions with sunlight but does not indoors (without sunlight) under B + red [R (600–700 nm)] light or white light. We postulated that the contrasting responses to B light as a day extension depended on far-red [FR (700–800 nm)] light during the day, which is plentiful under sunlight but lacking indoors under B+R or white light-emitting diodes. To study this response in three chrysanthemum cultivars, we delivered indoor lighting treatments at two locations with an 11-hour main photoperiod of B, green [G (500–600 nm)], R, and FR light, where subscript values indicate the photon flux density (in µmol·m−2·s−1) of each waveband: B60R120, B60G60R60, and B60R60FR60. After each short main photoperiod, plants received 0 or 4 hours of day-extension lighting of 60 µmol·m−2·s−1 of B light (B60). Under all treatments except B60R60FR60 with day-extension B60, it took ‘Chelsey Pink’, ‘Gigi Gold’, and ‘Gigi Yellow’ 13 to 17 days to reach the first visible inflorescence and 42 to 51 days to the first open flower. In contrast, plants grown under B60R60FR60 with day-extension B60 took 41 to 67 days to reach the first visible inflorescence with few plants developing open flowers. Plants were tallest at the first open flower and after 9 weeks of treatments when grown under B60R60FR60 with day-extension B60. These results indicate that the inclusion of FR light, but not G light, in the main photoperiod is necessary for day-extension B light to inhibit flowering in chrysanthemum. On the basis of these results and those of other studies, we postulate that the spectral dependence of flowering in chrysanthemum depends on whether and how the phytochrome photoequilibrium changes during the day. In particular, a sufficiently high daytime phytochrome photoequilibrium (e.g., under B+R and B+G+R light) could establish a predominant mode of floral signaling that prevents perception of subsequent B light as a long day.
There is demand for early-flowering cannabis (Cannabis sativa) cultivars to hasten harvest and avoid late-season detrimental weather conditions. A field study and greenhouse studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of gene dosage at the autoflowering locus on flowering timing for diploid and triploid hybrids between autoflowering and photoperiod-sensitive parents. Autoflowering × photoperiod-sensitive hybrids were all photoperiod sensitive, but their critical photoperiods were longer than for homozygous photoperiod-sensitive plants, which resulted in earlier flowering. For triploid genotypes, decreasing dosage of the photoperiod-sensitive allele (A), from AAA to AAa to Aaa, reduced the time to flowering. Flowering timing for the diploid genotype Aa was intermediate between Aaa and AAa. These results provide evidence of incomplete dominance of the A allele at the autoflowering locus. Plants of genotype Aaa flowered 32 to 40 days earlier in the field than genotypes of AA, 15 days earlier than genotype Aa, and were ready for harvest by the second week of August in Connecticut. Plants of Aaa were as tall as other diploid and triploid photoperiod-sensitive genotypes studied, which suggests that they have similar yield potential. The use of tetraploid autoflowering (aaaa) maternal plants in combination with diploid photoperiod-sensitive (AA) pollen parents to produce Aaa genotype seed is a reliable approach for developing early-flowering cultivars of cannabis for flower production purposes.
In response to challenges caused by climate change, apple (Malus ×domestica) breeding programs must quickly develop more resilient cultivars. One strategy is to breed for various bloom times. Members of the genus Malus, including domesticated apple, wild species, and hybrids, exhibit striking variations in the bloom date. Although bloom time is strongly influenced by chilling requirements, other aspects of floral development in Malus and their contributions to bloom time are less known. The purpose of this study was to investigate potential connections between predormancy flower development and final bloom time in Malus species. We performed a phenological analysis of flower development in wild and domesticated apple with extreme differences in bloom time over the course of one developmental season. We tracked histological changes in the floral apex of representatives of three early-blooming Malus genotypes (M. ×domestica ‘Anna’ PI 280400, M. orthocarpa PI 589392, M. sylvestris PI 633824) and three late-blooming genotypes (M. angustifolia PI 589763, M. angustifolia PI 613880, M. ×domestica ‘Koningszuur’ PI 188517). Our study documented their floral meristem progression and organ development and expanded on current staging systems for apple flower development to describe the changes observed. The developmental trajectories of each genotype did not group according to bloom category, and we observed variations in the floral development stage at the time of dormancy onset.
This study explored the effects of Ustilago esculenta inoculation on physiological responses (activities of defense and antioxidant enzymes) and chitinase gene expression in male Zizania latifolia “jiaobai” (without U. esculenta infection, with no galls, but normal flowering). Male jiaobai seedlings were injected at the five-leaf stage with U. esculenta suspension, and the impact on transcription of several genes encoding enzymes was examined. Compared with controls, expression of most enzymes was significantly different at 3 or 12 hours postinjection, and most ZlChi genes were involved in the response to U. esculenta inoculation. Fluorescence quantitative polymerase chain reaction results showed that U. esculenta was present in the roots of male jiaobai inoculated with U. esculenta at the shoot tips. Paraffin sections revealed many fungal hyphae in the roots at 15 d after inoculation, but few in controls. The results provide a basis for further study of the responses of male Z. latifolia to U. esculenta infection.
As one of the most important fruit tree crops, apple (Malus ×domestica), is faced with the serious impact of soil salinization. However, the underlying genetic and regulatory network remains elusive. Here, we adopted time-course RNA sequencing to decipher the genetic basis and regulatory module of apple in response to salt stress. Among a series of intense changes in genes at each time point, the critical genes in the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway were highly consistent with the duration of the stress treatment. Moreover, Salt Overly Sensitive 1 (SOS1) genes were identified and predicted to play important roles in the response process. We constructed coexpression modules and explored modules significantly associated with stress. SOS genes were identified in the hub genes, suggesting a critical role. Interestingly, transcription factors were also identified and predicted to cointeract with SOS genes in the hub genes of the coexpression module [e.g., HB7 (MD01G1226600), WRKY33 (MD12G1181000), and ERF106 (MD07G1248700)]. Collectively, our exploration and findings provide a reference and data resource for the study of genetic and salt regulatory networks in apple.