Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is one of the most popular winter-blooming species. Effective vegetative propagation is necessary for commercial usage and protection of wintersweet. In the current study, the four factors, namely hormone type (A), hormone concentration (B), soaking duration (C), and medium (D), were assessed using an L16 (44) orthogonal test design. The hormone types include ABT (A1), α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) (A2), indole butyric acid (IBA) (A3), and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) (A4); the hormone concentrations include 100 mg·L−1 (B1), 500 mg·L−1 (B2), 1000 mg·L−1 (B3), and 1500 mg·L−1 (B4); the soaking durations include 5 seconds (C1), 5 minutes (C2), 30 minutes (C3), and 3 hours (C4); and the mediums include perlite: peat in the ratios 1:0 (D1), 2:1 (D2), 1:1 (D3), and 1:2 (D4). The results showed that hormone and proper medium could significantly improve the cutting survival, rooting, and sprouting, whereas poor factor combinations, especially high hormone concentrations combined with long soaking durations may be threatened to the cuttings and rooting. In actual experiments, we successfully obtained an excellent rooting percentage (62.22%) of wintersweet from treatment No. 5 (A2B1C2D3), which is perlite and peat (1:1) as the medium and soaking the cuttings in 100 mg·L−1 NAA for 5 minutes as the hormone treatment. This combination can already meet the requirements for commercial production. A range analysis showed that the medium and hormone concentration were the most important factors affecting the cutting of wintersweet. An analysis of variance also showed that the medium and hormone concentration can significantly or extremely significantly affect most cutting indicators. Moreover, our results revealed that an orthogonal design method is an effective tool for establishing an improved technique for cutting propagation.
Huan Hu, Nan Chai, Haoxiang Zhu, Rui Li, Renwei Huang, Xia Wang, Daofeng Liu, Mingyang Li, Xingrong Song, and Shunzhao Sui
Mark K. Ehlenfeldt, Joseph Kawash, and James Polashock
There is ongoing interest in transferring new characteristics into commercial blueberry from other blueberry species. Vaccinium padifolium is a species distantly related to commercial blueberry that has traits of notable value to conventional blueberry development. Among these traits are upright structure, strong growth, abundant flowering and fruiting, superior self-fertility, fruit-cluster structure suited to mechanical harvesting, and repeat/continuous flowering. Previously produced F1 hybrids of V. padifolium × V. corymbosum were used in crosses with a variety of conventional blueberry selections to generate 13 backcross (BC1) families. The backcross families were evaluated under field conditions to determine their performance and to guide further use of this germplasm. The offspring varied considerably, but most families produced several individuals of acceptable commercial quality. The recovery of V. padifolium characteristics varied. Many plants bore evidence of V. padifolium plant structure, but none showed indications thus far of continuous or repeat flowering. The best selections from these families have been saved and will be intermated to generate the next cycle of this material. These clones will also be crossed to hybrid combinations of V. arctostaphylos and V. cylindraceum to further diversify and recombine this germplasm.
Hardeep Singh, Megha R. Poudel, Bruce Dunn, Charles Fontanier, and Gopal Kakani
Increase in ambient carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is beneficial for plant growth due to increased photosynthesis and water use efficiency. A greenhouse study was conducted to investigate how supplemented CO2 influences optimal irrigation and fertilization management for production of two ornamental plants. Two identical greenhouses were used, with one having CO2 supplementation and the other serving as the control with ambient CO2 concentration. Tensiometer-based irrigation treatments were applied at soil tensions of –5, –10, and –15 kPa with 0-, 3-, 6-, or 9-g controlled-release fertilizer rates applied in factorial with irrigation treatments. Plugs of geranium ‘Pinto Premium Rose Bicolor’ and fountain grass were grown under experimental conditions for 12 and 16 weeks, respectively. The results showed that CO2 supplementation increased the dry weight of geranium ‘Pinto Premium Rose Bicolor’ and fountain grass by 35% and 39%, respectively. Under the two driest irrigation regimes (–10 and –15 kPa), photosynthesis of geranium ‘Pinto Premium Rose Bicolor’ increased with CO2 supplementation compared with the ambient condition. Similarly, for fountain grass, the moderately watered (–10 kPa) treatment had a greater rate of photosynthesis with greater fertilizer rates of 6 or 9 g. CO2 supplementation resulted in increased water use efficiency of both species, whereas rate of transpiration was lower only in fountain grass. Among different fertilizer rates, 6- or 9-g fertilizer rates had greater values for dry weight, number of flowers, and stomatal conductance in both species. Therefore, it can be concluded that CO2 supplementation can help in efficient use of water for greenhouse production of ornamental plants.
Ayoub Fathi-Najafabadi, Cristina Besada, Rebeca Gil, and Alejandra Salvador
Persimmon cultivation has significantly grown in the Mediterranean Region in recent years. The production concentrates mainly in three astringent cultivars: Kaki Tipo in Italy, Triumph in Israel, and Rojo Brillante in Spain. Therefore, the varietal range expansion is one of the current challenges for persimmon producers in this area. Moreover, the introduction of nonastringent persimmon cultivars is particularly interesting because they can be commercialized immediately after harvest without applying deastringency treatment before commercialization. This study evaluated the harvest period and the postharvest response of six Japanese nonastringent cultivars (Kanshu, Shinshu, Soshu, Suruga, Youhou, Izu). During two seasons, fruit from each cultivar were harvested at two maturity stages. Fruit quality (external color, firmness, and total soluble solids) was evaluated after harvest and after different commercial scenarios (domestic market: 7 days at 20 °C, market to European Union (EU): 5 days at 5 °C plus 5 days at 20 °C, and market to countries with cold-quarantine treatment requirements: 21 days at 0 °C plus 5 days at 20 °C). Cultivars Kanshu, Shinshu, Soshu, and Izu were identified as early cultivars, and Soshu was the earliest one, which reached commercial maturity at the beginning of September. These four cultivars showed good quality after simulating commercialization on domestic and EU markets. Cultivars Suruga and Youhou overlapped the current harvest window, but their low chilling injury sensitiveness is highlighted, so they are of special interest to be cold-stored at the end of the season to be commercialized in overseas markets.
Saquib Waheed, Yuan Peng, and Lihui Zeng
In fruit trees, flowering is a key event followed by fruit development and seed production. Gigentea (GI), a clock-associated gene, is known to contribute to photoperiodic flowering and circadian clock control in Arabidopsis thaliana. However, its functions in woody fruit trees remain unclear. In this study, a 2000 bp promoter fragment of the longan (Dimocarpous longan) DlGI gene was isolated from the genomic DNA of longan ‘Honghezi’ by polymerase chain reaction amplification. The DlGI promoter contained two main types of potential cis-acting elements: light-responsive and hormone-responsive elements. The promoter was fused with the β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene of pBI121 to generate the pDlGI:GUS construct. GUS histochemical staining of transgenic A. thaliana revealed that DlGI might play a role in different developmental phases of longan. Exposure of transgenic A. thaliana to varying light intensities showed that the GUS activity increases with increased light intensity. Transient expression of pDlGI::GUS in Nicotiana benthamiana showed that the GUS activity was higher and reached peak a few hours earlier under short-day (SD) than long-day conditions. Exposure to different hormonal treatments revealed that the transcript level of GUS was activated by gibberellin (GA3) and indoleacetic acid (IAA) but suppressed by abscisic acid and methyl jasmonate treatment. In addition, N. benthamiana transient assay and dual-luciferase assay revealed that the presence of early flowering 4 (ELF4) homologs of longan (DlELF4-1 and DlELF4-2) significantly activated the DlGI promoter. The positive response of DlGI promoter to high light-intensity, SD photoperiod, GA3 and IAA signals, and DlELF4 transcription factor suggest that DlGI may function as a circadian clock and play a role in responding to SD conditions and other signals in flower initiation of longan.
Anna Underhill, Cory Hirsch, and Matthew Clark
Grape (Vitis vinifera) cluster compactness is an important trait due to its effect on disease susceptibility, but visual evaluation of compactness relies on human judgement and an ordinal scale that is not appropriate for all populations. We developed an image analysis pipeline and used it to quantify cluster compactness traits in a segregating hybrid wine grape (Vitis sp.) population for 2 years. Images were collected from grape clusters immediately after harvest, segmented by color, and analyzed using a custom script. Both automated and conventional phenotyping methods were used, and comparisons were made between each method. A partial least squares (PLS) model was constructed to evaluate the prediction of physical cluster compactness using image-derived measurements. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) on chromosomes 4, 9, 12, 16, and 17 were associated with both image-derived and conventionally phenotyped traits within years, which demonstrated the ability of image-derived traits to identify loci related to cluster morphology and cluster compactness. QTL for 20-berry weight were observed between years on chromosomes 11 and 17. Additionally, the automated method of cluster length measurement was highly accurate, with a deviation of less than 10 mm (r = 0.95) compared with measurements obtained with a hand caliper. A remaining challenge is the utilization of color-based image segmentation in a population that segregates for fruit color, which leads to difficulty in differentiating the stem from the fruit when the two are similarly colored in non-noir fruit. Overall, this research demonstrates the validity of image-based phenotyping for quantifying cluster compactness and for identifying QTL for the advancement of grape breeding efforts.
Kynda R. Curtis, Tatiana Drugova, Trevor Knudsen, Jennifer Reeve, and Ruby Ward
This study examines consumer preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for organic and eco-friendly peaches, Prunus persica L., over conventional peaches in Utah. Data were collected at farmers’ markets across Utah, including actual peach purchases coupled with an in-person survey and analyzed using logit models. The results show that farmers’ market shoppers are willing to pay a premium for organic and eco-friendly peaches of $2.10 and $1.41 per pound, respectively. The importance of selected sustainability attributes positively impacted shopper preferences for eco-friendly peaches, while attitudes and lifestyle were associated with stronger shopper preferences for organic peaches. The distinct differences between shoppers who prefer organic and those who prefer eco-friendly, as well as the disparity in premiums, imply that growers should strongly consider their markets and cost of production differences when choosing organic certification over other less expensive differentiation schemes.
Sandra B. Wilson, Carlee Steppe, Zhanao Deng, Keri Druffel, Gary W. Knox, and Edzard van Santen
Trailing lantana [Lantana montevidensis (Spreng.) Briq.] is a low-growing, woody ornamental valued for its heat and drought tolerance and repeat blooming of purple or white flowers throughout much of the year. In 2011, trailing lantana was predicted to have high invasion risk by the UF-IFAS’s assessment of non-native plants in Florida, and therefore it was no longer recommended for use. All cultivars fall under this designation unless proven otherwise. Eight trailing lantana varieties were obtained from wholesale growers or naturalized populations found in Texas and Australia. Plants were propagated vegetatively, finished in 4-inch pots, and planted in field trials located in central (Balm) and northern (Citra) Florida. Throughout the 24-week study from June to November, mean plant quality was between 4.4 and 4.7 (on a 1 to 5 scale) for U.S. varieties and 3.9 for the Australian form. Mean flowering was between 4.1 and 4.5 (on a 1 to 5 scale) for U.S. trailing lantana varieties and 3.5 for Australian trailing lantana. Australian trailing lantana differed from other U.S. varieties tested, being smaller in size, more sensitive to cold, and having a high female fertility index (producing abundant fruit with viable seed per peduncle). Our findings indicate that some U.S. varieties of trailing lantana are unlikely to present an ecological threat and merit consideration for production and use.
Xiaojing Duan, Zhonglong Zhu, Ziyang Sang, Faju Chen, and Luyi Ma
Faisal Shahzad, Changpin Chun, Arnold Schumann, and Tripti Vashisth
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.