Since the advent of Huanglongbing [HLB (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus)] in Florida, several preliminary reports have emerged about the positive effects of mineral nutrition on the performance of HLB-affected citrus (Citrus sp.) trees. HLB-affected trees are known to undergo significant feeder root loss. Therefore, studies have focused on foliar nutrient application instead of soil-applied nutrients speculating that the HLB-affected trees root systems may not be competent in nutrient uptake. Some studies also suggest that HLB-affected trees benefit from micronutrients at higher than the recommended rates; however, the results are often inconclusive and inconsistent. To address this, the goal of the present study was to evaluate the nutrient uptake efficiency and the quantitative and qualitative differences in nutrient uptake of HLB-affected trees. HLB-affected and healthy sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) trees were grown in a 100% hydroponic system with Hoagland solution for 8 weeks. The trees were deprived of any fertilization for 6 months before the transfer of trees to the hydroponic solution. Altogether, the four treatments studied in the hydroponic system were healthy trees fertilized (HLY-F) and not fertilized (HLY-NF), and HLB-affected trees fertilized (HLB-F) and not fertilized (HLB-NF). HLY-F and HLY-NF trees were found to have similar levels of leaf nutrients except for N, which was found to be low in nonfertilized trees (HLY and HLB). Both HLB-F and HLB-NF trees had lower levels of Ca, Mg, and S compared with HLY trees. In addition, HLB-NF trees had significantly lower levels of micronutrients Mn, Zn, and Fe, compared with HLY-NF trees. The hydroponic solution analysis showed that HLB-F and HLY-F trees had similar uptake of all the nutrients. Considering that HLB-affected trees have a lower root-to-shoot ratio than healthy trees, nutrient uptake efficiency per kilogram of root tissue was significantly higher in HLB trees compared with HLY trees. Under nutrient-deficient conditions (day 0) only nine genes were differentially expressed in HLB roots compared with HLY roots. On the other hand, when fertilizer was supplied for ≈1 week, ≈2300 genes were differentially expressed in HLB-F roots compared with HLY-F roots. A large number of differentially expressed genes in HLB-F were related to ion transport, root growth and development, anatomic changes, cell death, and apoptosis compared with HLY-F trees. Overall, anatomic and transcriptomic analyses revealed that HLB-affected roots undergo remarkable changes on transitioning from no nutrients to a nutrient solution, possibly facilitating a high uptake of nutrients. Our results suggest the roots of HLB-affected trees are highly efficient in nutrient uptake; however, a small root mass is a major limitation in nutrient uptake. Certain micronutrients and secondary macronutrients are also metabolized (possibly involved in tree defense or oxidative stress response) at a higher rate in HLB-affected trees than healthy trees. Therefore, a constant supply of fertilizer at a slightly higher rate than what is recommended for micronutrients and secondary macronutrients would be beneficial for managing HLB-affected trees.
Faisal Shahzad, Changpin Chun, Arnold Schumann, and Tripti Vashisth
Lili Zhou, Maria Eloisa Q. Reyes, and Robert E. Paull
Papaya (Carica papaya L.) leaves are large, up to 70 cm wide, and frequently deeply lobed, with seven to 13 major veins. The scan width of current handheld digital leaf area instruments is generally less than 15 cm. A rapid method is needed to estimate the total leaf area of a plant in the field with leaves at different stages of growth from the apex. The length of the main and side veins of papaya leaves can be used to estimate the area of a single leaf and the total leaf area of the plant. The relationship between main vein lengths and total leaf area was determined for mature leaves from the cultivars Sunset, Line-8, and Kapoho. A simple relationship exists between leaf area and the length of the two main side midribs (L3 and L4): Leaf area (cm2) = −2280 + 87.7*L3 + 55.6*L4 (P > F = 0.0001; r 2 = 0.969), explaining ≈94% of the variation between estimated leaf area and leaf area. The most recently matured leaf is the third or fourth discernable leaf from the apex, with a positive net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate and an average area of 2331 cm2 that could fix up to 1.6 g carbon per 10-hour day under full sun. The rate of photosynthesis declined with leaf age, and the overall net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate of the plant can be predicted. Following 80% leaf defoliation of the plant, the net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate of the most recently matured leaf increased 30% to 50% on days 11 and 19 after treatment when the photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) was approximately half of that on day 15 under full sun when no difference in net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate was seen. Fruit removal did not affect the net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate. Papaya adjusts its single-leaf net photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate under lower light levels to meet plant growth and fruit sink demand.
Jose Martínez-Calvo and María L. Badenes
Magdalena Pancerz and James E. Altland
Stability of substrate pH in container-grown crops is important for proper nutrient management. The objective of this research was to determine the pH buffering capacity of pine bark substrates as a function of particle size and compare those results to sphagnum peat. The weight equivalent of 100 cm3 for fine, medium, and coarse pine bark and sphagnum peat, either as a whole or partitioned into several particle size ranges, was placed in a 250-mL glass jar and filled with 100 mL of an acid or base solution ranging from 0 to 50 meq·L−1 in 10 meq·L−1 increments. After 24 hours, pH was measured. An experiment was also conducted in the greenhouse. The weight equivalent of 500 cm3 of sphagnum peat, fine pine bark, or coarse pine bark was filled into 10-cm plastic pots and irrigated with one of the following: tap water or 10 meq·L−1 of HCl, NaOH, H2SO4, or KHCO3 and with or without a water soluble fertilizer. Substrate pH was determined 4 and 8 weeks after potting using the pour-through method. In all experiments, sphagnum peat had less buffering capacity than pine bark against pH changes from acidic solutions, whereas pine bark had less buffering capacity than sphagnum peat to pH changes from basic solutions. Substrate pH buffering in pine bark increased with decreasing particle size, whereas pH buffering in sphagnum peat was less responsive to particle size. These results will help growers and substrate manufacturers understand how substrate components contribute to pH management during crop production.
Yuan Li, Joseph Heckman, Andrew Wyenandt, Neil Mattson, Edward Durner, and A.J. Both
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is a globally cultivated and consumed herb known for its unique aroma and flavor. Sweet basil grows best in warm temperatures, and productivity and marketability decrease when grown under cool conditions (<10 °C). Silicon (Si) is not considered an essential plant nutrient, but it can be beneficial to Si macroaccumulator plants by alleviating several biotic and abiotic stresses. Recent studies have shown that some microaccumulator species may also benefit from Si. In this study, we examined the effects of different levels (0, 25, and 75 ppm Si) of Si amendments on hydroponic basil grown at 23 °C. Si (75 ppm) significantly increased shoot height and weight with no negative impact on plant morphology. All Si-treated basil plants absorbed Si in small quantities and affected the uptake of phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, copper, zinc and molybdenum. After an unintentional frost event, basil plants treated with 75 ppm had significantly higher survival rates and reduced cold injury symptoms. We concluded that Si amendments can have a positive impact on hydroponically grown sweet basil, and that such amendments may reduce plant damage due to occasionally cooler growing temperatures.
Kirsten L. Lloyd, Donald D. Davis, Richard P. Marini, and Dennis R. Decoteau
Effects of nighttime (2000 to 0700 hr) O3 on the pod mass of sensitive (S156) and resistant (R123) snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) genotypes were assessed using continuous stirred tank reactors located within a greenhouse. Two concentration-response relationship trials were designed to evaluate yield response to nighttime O3 exposure (10 to 265 ppb) in combination with daytime exposure at background levels (44 and 62 ppb). Three replicated trials tested the impact of nighttime O3 treatment at means of 145, 144, and 145 ppb on yields. In addition, stomatal conductance (g S) measurements documented diurnal variations and assessed the effects of genotype and leaf age. During the concentration-response experiments, pod mass had a significant linear relationship with the nighttime O3 concentration across genotypes. Yield losses of 15% and 50% occurred at nighttime exposure levels of ≈45 and 145 ppb, respectively, for S156, whereas R123 yields decreased by 15% at ≈150 ppb. At low nighttime O3 levels of ≈100 ppb, R123 yields initially increased up to 116% of the treatment that received no added nighttime O3, suggesting a potential hormesis effect for R123, but not for S156. Results from replicated trials revealed significant yield losses in both genotypes following combined day and night exposure, whereas night-only exposure caused significant decreases only for S156. The g S rates ranged from less than 100 mmol·m−2·s−1 in the evening to midday levels more than 1000 mmol·m−2·s−1. At sunrise and sunset, S156 had significantly higher g S rates than R123, suggesting a greater potential O3 flux into leaves. Across genotypes, younger rapidly growing leaves had higher g S rates than mature fully expanded leaves when evaluated at four different times during the day. Although these were long-term trials, g S measurements and observations of foliar injury development suggest that acute injury, occurring at approximately the time of sunrise, also may have contributed to yield losses. To our knowledge, these are the first results to confirm that the relative O3 sensitivity of the S156/R123 genotypes is valid for nighttime exposure.
Christopher J. Currey, Vincent C. Metz, Nicholas J. Flax, Alex G. Litvin, and Brian E. Whipker
The objective of this research was to quantify the effects of phosphorous (P) concentrations on the growth, development, and tissue mineral nutrient concentrations of four popular culinary herbs commonly grown in containers. Seedlings of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Italian Large Leaf’), dill (Anethum graveolens ‘Fernleaf’), parsley (Petroselinum crispum ‘Giant of Italy’), and sage (Salvia officinalis) were individually transplanted to 11.4-cm-diameter containers filled with soilless substrate comprising canadian sphagnum peatmoss and coarse perlite. Upon transplanting and throughout the experiment, seedlings were irrigated with solutions containing 0, 5, 10, 20, or 40 mg·L−1 P; all other macro- and micronutrient concentrations were the same across P concentrations. Plants were grown for 4 weeks in a greenhouse; after that time, data were collected. Relationships between height and width and P concentrations were nonlinear for all four species; height and width increased as P increased to more than 0 mg·L−1 until the species-specific maxima; after that time, no further increase occurred. The same trend was observed for the branch length of sweet basil and sage, and for internode length, leaf area, and shoot dry mass of all four species. Although visible P deficiency symptoms were observed for plants provided with 0 mg·L−1 P, there were no signs of P deficiency for plants provided with ≥5 mg·L−1 P, even though tissue P concentrations were below the recommended sufficiency ranges. As a result of this research, containerized sweet basil, dill, parsley, and sage can be provided with 5 to 10 mg·L−1 P during production to limit growth and produce plants without visible nutrient deficiency symptoms that are proportional to their containers.
Gurjit Singh, Shimat V. Joseph, and Brian Schwartz
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is an important pest of warm-season turfgrass species, including bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.). Bermudagrass is a popular turfgrass that is widely planted on golf courses, athletic grounds, and ornamental landscapes across the country and throughout the world. Spodoptera frugiperda infestation is often sporadic; however, when it does occur, damage can be severe. Host plant resistance against S. frugiperda can be a valuable tool for reducing or preventing the use of insecticides. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine resistance against S. frugiperda in a few promising bermudagrasses. Fourteen experimental bermudagrass genotypes plus two control cultivars, ‘Zeon’ zoysiagrass (resistant control) and ‘TifTuf’ bermudagrass (susceptible control), were evaluated against S. frugiperda to determine host plant resistance in the laboratory. The results showed that the resistant control, ‘Zeon’ zoysiagrass, was more resistant than the other genotypes to S. frugiperda larvae. To determine the response of the experimental lines to S. frugiperda as compared with that of the controls, three indices were developed based on survival, development, and overall susceptibility. According to the susceptibility index, ‘13-T-1032’, ‘T-822’, ‘11-T-510’, ‘12-T-192’, ‘11-T-56’, ‘09-T-31’, ‘11-T-483’, and ‘13-T-1067’ were the top-ranked bermudagrasses. Among these, the responses of ‘13-T-1032’, ‘T-822’, ‘11-T-510’, ‘11-T-56’, ‘09-T-31’, and ‘11-T-483’ were comparable to that of ‘TifTuf’, and antibiosis was the underlying mechanism of resistance. Additionally, larval length, head capsule width, and weight were negatively associated with the days of pupation and adult emergence and positively associated with pupal length, thorax width, and weight. These results will help refine future breeding and with investigations of resistance against the fall armyworm.
Tyler C. Hoskins, Jason D. Lattier, and Ryan N. Contreras
Common lilac is an important flowering shrub that accounts for ≈$20 million of sales in the U.S. nursery industry. Cultivar improvement in common lilac has been ongoing for centuries, yet little research has focused on shortening the multiple-year juvenility period for lilacs and the subsequent time required between breeding cycles. The practice of direct-sowing of immature “green” seed has been shown to reduce juvenility in some woody plants, but it has not been reported for common lilac. This study investigated the effects of seed maturity [weeks after pollination (WAP)], pregermination seed treatment (direct-sown vs. cold-stratified), and postgermination seedling chilling on the germination percentage, subsequent plant growth, and time to flower on lilac seedlings. All seedlings were derived from the female parent ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ and the male parent ‘Angel White’. Seeds harvested at 15 and 20 WAP resulted in 58% (sd ± 9.9%) and 80% (sd ± 9.0%) germination, respectively, which were similar to that of dry seed collected at 20 WAP with stratification (62% ± 4.2%). Seedlings from the green seed collected at 15 and 20 WAP were also approximately three-times taller than those of dry seed groups DS1, DS2, and DS3 after the first growing season. Over the next two growing seasons, there were no differences in seedling height across all treatments. Flowering occurred at the beginning of the fourth season and without differences among treatments. These results indicate that the collection and direct sowing of immature, green seed can be used to successfully grow lilac seedlings, but that they do not reduce the juvenility period. However, this method can provide more vegetative growth in year one to observe early vegetative traits such as leaf color, and it can provide more material for DNA extraction to support molecular research.
Ibukun T. Ayankojo, Kelly T. Morgan, Davie M. Kadyampakeni, and Guodong D. Liu
Effective nutrient and irrigation management practices are critical for optimum growth and yield in open-field fresh-market tomato production. Although nutrient and irrigation management practices have been well-studied for tomato production in Florida, more studies of the current highly efficient production systems would be considered essential. Therefore, a two-season (Fall 2016 and Spring 2017) study was conducted in Immokalee, FL, to evaluate the effects of the nitrogen (N) rates under different irrigation regimes and to determine the optimum N requirement for open-field fresh-market tomato production. To evaluate productivity, the study investigated the effects of N rates and irrigation regimes on plant and root growth, yield, and production efficiency of fresh-market tomato. The study demonstrated that deficit irrigation (DI) targeting 66% daily evapotranspiration (ET) replacement significantly increased tomato root growth compared with full irrigation (FI) at 100% ET. Similarly, DI application increased tomato growth early in the season compared with FI. Therefore, irrigation applications may be adjusted downward from FI, especially early during a wet season, thereby potentially improving irrigation water use efficiency (iWUE) and reducing leaching potential of Florida sandy soils. However, total marketable yield significantly increased under FI compared with DI. This suggests that although DI may increase early plant growth, the application of DI throughout the season may result in yield reduction. Although N application rates had no significant effects on biomass production, tomato marketable yield with an application rate of 134 kg·ha−1 N was significantly lower compared with other N application rates (179, 224, and 269 kg·ha−1). It was also observed that there were no significant yield benefits with N application rates higher than 179 kg·ha−1. During the fall, iWUE was higher under DI (33.57 kg·m−3) than under FI (25.57 kg·m−3); however, iWUE was similar for both irrigation treatments during spring (FI = 14.04 kg·m−3; DI = 15.29 kg·m−3). The N recovery (REC-N) rate was highest with 134 kg·ha−1 N; however, REC-N was similar with 179, 224, and 269 kg·ha−1 N rates during both fall and spring. Therefore, these study results could suggest that DI could be beneficial to tomato production only when applied during early growth stages, but not throughout the growing season. Both yield and efficiency results indicated that the optimum N requirement for open-field fresh-market tomato production in Florida may not exceed 179 kg·ha−1 N.