As a native tree species with a strong adaptability, Platycladus orientalis is a species of choice for afforestation and landscaping in northern China. However, it develops mostly male cones and few female cones. In addition, its reproductive characteristics are not yet clear, which limits further breeding work. To systematically clarify the reproductive biology characteristic and fertilization mechanism of P. orientalis, the present study comprehensively investigated the process of micro and macro-sporogenesis in male and female cones from bud initiation to fertilization, and seed development. The specific time in each developmental stage, including bud initiation, microsporogenesis, megasporogenesis, and cone and seed development, was determined, and the abortive phenomenon during development was discovered in both male and female cones. In addition, this research showed that the microspore mother cells were dormant in winter at meiosis stage, and the male gametophyte started to develop when dormancy ended. The tapetum developed normally and belonged to the secretory type. The optimal treatment time for male and female cones transformation by artificial induction was from late June to mid-July. This finding provided a theoretical basis for hybridization, breeding, improvement of seed yield and quality, and artificial induction of male and female cone transformation in P. orientalis.
Ting Liao, Guobin Liu, Liqin Guo, Ye Wang, Yanwu Yao, and Jun Cao
Kathryn Homa, William P. Barney, William P. Davis, Daniel Guerrero, Mary J. Berger, Jose L. Lopez, Christian A. Wyenandt, and James E. Simon
Fusarium wilt of basil (FOB), caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. basilici, is an economically damaging disease of field- and greenhouse-grown sweet basil. Growers have observed a resurgence of FOB and susceptibility in FOB-resistant cultivars. Because currently available chemical, biological, and cultural control methods are costly, unsustainable, ineffective, or challenging to implement, new strategies of FOB control are needed. Cold plasma is becoming an increasingly important experimental technology in the food and agricultural industry for pathogen decontamination. To understand the effect of cold plasma treatment on FOB incidence and severity, experiments were conducted by treating FOB mycelium, inoculated sweet basil seedlings, and seeds with various experimental cold plasma treatment devices, all using helium as a feed gas. Initial results indicated that while the cold plasma jet treatment did not result in a significant reduction in mean mycelial growth rate or virulence of the pathogen, direct cold plasma jet treatments on seedlings, as well as a cold plasma dielectric barrier discharge treatment on seeds, did exhibit varying efficacies against FOB. Control of FOB appeared to be strongly dependent on the exposure time to cold plasma. These findings can aid in the standardization of a cold plasma treatment for the commercial basil seed and transplant industry.
Virginia M. Moore and William F. Tracy
Corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) is a destructive pest with limited management options in sweet corn (Zea mays) production. Increased husk extension and the presence of the C-glycosyl flavone maysin are two proposed mechanisms for improving corn earworm resistance in corn cultivars. A factorial mating design was conducted to test hybrid combinations of sweet corn inbreds with long husks and/or maysin to identify candidates for future cultivar development. The mating design had seven male parents, including three commercial sweet corn inbreds (Wh9261, We11401, and Wt1001) and four inbreds selected for maysin content (Maysin1, 2, 3, and 4), and five female parents, including two commercial sweet corn inbreds (Ia453su and Ia5125su) and three inbreds with long, thick, tight husks (A684su, A685su, and A686su). Hybrids were evaluated for ear length, husk length, maysin content, and corn earworm resistance at six environments in 2016 and 2017. Relationships between husk extension, maysin, and corn earworm resistance were inconsistent, but five inbreds produced hybrids with significantly lower corn earworm infestation and/or damage, demonstrating potential to confer resistance to the corn earworm.
Weiting Huang and Zhongming Fang
The proliferation and differentiation of rhizomes are crucial for the propagation of Cymbidium species. We systematically assessed the effects of different concentrations of 20 amino acids on the proliferation and differentiation of C. goeringii rhizomes. Rhizome proliferation rates were significantly higher in media with 2.0 mmol·L−1 cysteine, 0.5 mmol·L−1 arginine, 0.2 mmol·L−1 asparagine, 1.0 mmol·L−1 proline, and 0.5 mmol·L−1 lysine compared with those in the control. Additionally, 1.0 mmol·L−1 tyrosine, 0.5 mmol·L−1 asparagine, and 0.2 mmol·L−1 aspartate were beneficial for rhizome differentiation. Furthermore, two combinations of amino acids, 0.5 mmol·L−1 arginine + 1.0 mmol·L−1 proline and 0.5 mmol·L−1 arginine + 2.0 mmol·L−1 cysteine, resulted in proliferation rates of 3.05 and 3.01, respectively, after 60 days. The highest differentiation rate (5.39 after 60 days) was observed in media with 0.5 mmol·L−1 asparagine + 0.2 mmol·L−1 aspartate. This study demonstrated that certain combinations of amino acids can effectively promote the proliferation and differentiation of rhizomes during the rapid propagation of C. goeringii.
Guirong Li, Ran Quan, Chaohui Yan, Xiaojin Hou, and Huiling Hu
Grape (Vitis vinifera) is among the world’s most important fruit crops and is a commonly used woody plant for genomics and post-genomics research. NAC transcription factors play central roles in plant growth and development, floral organ morphogenesis, and responses to biological stress. It is therefore important to identify key transcription factors from grape and clarify their mechanisms of action to generate genetic resources for grape molecular improvement. Our research group previously cloned a NAC transcription factor from V. vinifera ‘Yatomi Rosa’ [drought and leaf roll gene 1 (DRL1)] and demonstrated that it caused dwarfing of tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) plants when overexpressed. In the present work, we demonstrate that overexpression of DRL1 in transgenic tobacco delays flowering time and markedly reduces pollen viability. Furthermore, crosses between male DRL1 transgenic tobacco and female wild-type tobacco exhibit substantially lower fruit set, fruit and seed weights, fruit and seed shape indices, and seed germination rates than selfed wild-type plants or crosses with a transgenic female parent. DLR1 overexpression strongly influences flowering time and reproduction in transgenic tobacco, primarily through its effects on pollen development. These results provide a foundation for further functional characterization of DLR1 in grape.
Sylvia Cherono, Charmaine Ntini, Misganaw Wassie, Mohammad Dulal Mollah, Mohammad A. Belal, Collins Ogutu, and Yuepeng Han
The protective role of melatonin in plants under abiotic stress has been reported, but little information is available on its mitigation effect on coffee (Coffea arabica) plants. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of exogenous application of 100 µM melatonin in coffee leaves under 3 months of drought stress treatment. Melatonin was found to alleviate the drought-induced damage in coffee through reducing the rate of chlorophyll degradation, electrolyte leakage, malonaldehyde content, and activating various antioxidant enzymes, such as catalase, guaiacol peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. Melatonin application suppressed the expression of chlorophyll degradation gene PAO encoding pheophorbide a oxygenase, and upregulated the expression of photosynthetic gene RBCS2 encoding ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate oxygenase (Rubisco) protein, and a drought-related gene AREB encoding abscisic acid-responsive element binding protein. The photosynthetic efficiency of photosystem II under dark adaptation was also improved upon melatonin application in drought-stressed plants. Our results showed that both foliar spray and direct soil application of melatonin could improve drought tolerance by regulating photosynthetic efficiency and oxidative damage in C. arabica seedlings. This study provides insights in application of melatonin as a protective agent against drought stress in improvement of crop yields.
Michael Stein, Corina Serban, and Per McCord
Seeds of sweet cherry (Prunus avium) possess a strong endodormancy response that traditionally requires months of stratification before germination can occur. Accelerating artificial dormancy release could be an important aspect of improving progress in a sweet cherry breeding program by increasing the first season growth period. In this study, seeds were exogenously treated with ethephon, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), kinetin, hydrogen peroxide, and acidified nitrite to attempt to induce germination with reduced stratification times. Findings showed that ethephon, ACC, and hydrogen peroxide all significantly increase early seed germination rates. Stratification time had the largest effect on increasing germinations, with significantly higher germination percentages accompanying increased stratification times that plateaued at 3 months of stratification. Stratification is vital for proper seedling development because plants grown from seeds with no stratification are significantly shorter and have reduced internode lengths compared with seeds with 4 weeks of stratification.
Gustavo F. Kreutz, Germán V. Sandoya, Gary K. England, and Wendy Mussoline
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is planted in Florida starting late fall at the end of September and continuing through the last harvest in May. In recent years, the season has shortened because of warm temperatures and weather-related events, such as rainfall at the beginning and the end of the season. During the transition between summer production in the Western U.S. lettuce season and the beginning of Florida’s winter production, there may be shortages of lettuce and other leafy vegetables in U.S. East Coast markets. In this research, we evaluated a set of lettuce breeding lines and cultivars in both sand and muck soils and a subset of romaine lettuces to determine whether lettuce planted in Florida’s sandy soils could help meet the supply shortage in the delay between the Western and Eastern U.S. lettuce seasons. Significant genetic variation and genotype × environment (G×E) interactions were observed among lettuce genotypes when planted in both sand and muck soils, suggesting that lettuce cultivars should be adapted and bred specifically for sandy soils. Romaine and butterhead lettuce lines produced higher yield in sandy soils; a particular romaine breeding line (BG18-0588) had good yield and less heat-related disorders when planted in warmer temperatures. Producing lettuce in sandy soils may have a higher production cost because of additional specific practices such as transplant production, plastic mulch, and fertigation, but these costs may be offset by increased productivity due to better weed control and nutrient timing. However, a future analysis should be conducted to elucidate the economic feasibility of producing lettuce in sandy soils.
Paul Kusuma and Bruce Bugbee
Phytochrome, a well-studied photoreceptor in plants, primarily absorbs in the red (R) and far-red (FR) regions and is responsible for the perception of shade and subsequent morphological responses. Experiments performed in controlled environments have widely used the R:FR ratio to simulate the natural environment and used phytochrome photoequilibrium (PPE) to simulate the activity of phytochrome. We review why PPE may be an unreliable metric, including differences in weighting factors, multiple phytochromes, nonphotochemical reversions, intermediates, variations in the total pool of phytochrome, and screening by other pigments. We suggest that environmental signals based on R and FR photon fluxes are a better predictor of plant shape than the more complex PPE model. However, the R:FR ratio is nonintuitive and can approach infinity under electric lights, which makes it difficult to extrapolate from studies in controlled environments to the field. Here we describe an improved metric: the FR fraction (FR/R+FR) with a range from 0 to 1. This is a more intuitive metric both under electric lights and in the field compared with other ratios because it is positively correlated with phytochrome-mediated morphological responses. We demonstrate the reliability of this new metric by reanalyzing previously published data.
Rita de Cássia Félix Alvarez, Aline Cordeiro Taveira, Sebastião Ferreira de Lima, Larissa Pereira Ribeiro Teodoro, Job Teixeira de Oliveira, Adriano dos Santos, Erina Vitório Rodrigues, Gessi Ceccon, and Paulo Eduardo Teodoro
This study aimed to identify promising crosses to generate cowpea breeding populations for the Brazilian Cerrado region. The experiment was carried out during the two crop seasons. The experimental design used was a randomized block with four replications and 20 genotypes prostrate. The effect of genotypes was significant for all traits evaluated. The Mahalanobis distance and the Tocher’s cluster were used to estimate the genetic diversity. Singh’s criterion was used to quantify the contribution of each trait to genetic diversity. Mass of hundred grains and grain yield were the traits that most contributed to detect diversity among cowpea genotypes. The crosses between the G14 genotype with G2, G3, G4, G5, G6, G11, G16, and G20 are promising for the development of populations with variability and high genetic potential.