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.
Anna Underhill, Cory Hirsch, and Matthew Clark
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.
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.