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Dongru Kang, Silan Dai, Kang Gao, Fan Zhang and Hong Luo

In this study, five cultivars of cut chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum ×morifolium Ramat., ‘Jinba’, ‘Yuuka’, ‘Fenguiren’, ‘Xueshen’, and ‘Huangjin’ were used to explore the functions of 5-azacytidine (5-azaC) on chrysanthemum growth and flower development. The results showed that 5-azaC had different effects on the growth of the five cultivars during in vitro culture. The final statistics showed that low concentrations promoted plant growth, whereas high concentrations inhibited growth; however, each cultivar had different growth curves, demonstrating that 5-azaC had no consistent inhibitory actions on growth. On the basis of the squaring time and flowering time statistics, we found that 5-azaC had a certain effect on the flowering time of all cut chrysanthemums, and all of these cultivars showed extremely early strains. Summer chrysanthemum (‘Yuuka’, ‘Fenguiren’, ‘Xueshen’, and ‘Huangjin’) treatments led to both early and delayed flowering. When the statistics were analyzed for different individuals, we found that the treatments shortened the squaring time in early-flowering plants. In ‘Jinba’, an autumn chrysanthemum, the treatment helped broken juvenile limitations and allowed plants to undergo photoperiod induction in the early stage. Additionally, we also determined the flower diameter differences in these treatments; ray florets from ‘Yuuka’ and ‘Huangjin’ trended to show tubular florets, and the location of tubular and ray florets were changed in ‘Xueshen’ capitulum. In conclusion, on the basis of flowering time in five early varieties of cut chrysanthemum, we propose that 5-azaC may regulate the methylation level of genes that control flower induction and flower development. These results provide phenotypic data and material for exploring the function of DNA methylation in regulating flowering.

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Juan C. Díaz-Pérez, Dan MacLean, Smiljana Goreta, Sarah Workman, Erick Smith, Harwinder Singh Sidhu, Gunawati Gunawan, Anthony Bateman, Jesús Bautista, William Lovett, Maja Jukić Špika, Gvozden Dumičić and Mira Radunić

Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a nonclimacteric fruit sold fresh as whole fruit or arils (fleshy seeds). It is also used for the production of juice, wine, and syrup. Pomegranate is popular due to its numerous health benefits. In the United States, it is grown primarily in California and other semi-arid regions, with Wonderful being the most widely grown cultivar. However, preliminary research has shown that ‘Wonderful’ produces low yields in Georgia, thus indicating the need to identify cultivars better suited for warm and humid conditions, such as those of the southeastern United States. The objective of this study was to determine the physical and chemical quality attributes of pomegranate cultivars grown in Georgia. Pomegranate fruit from 40 cultivars were harvested during 2012 to 2017. Individual fruit weight varied from 124 g for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 631 g for ‘C1’. The total fruit weight percentage accounted for by fresh aril weight (aril fraction) ranged from 22% for ‘C8’ to 70% for ‘JC’. Individual aril weight ranged from 174 mg for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 638 mg for ‘Cloud’. Across cultivars, individual fruit weight increased linearly with the increasing number of arils. Aril color varied from white to deep red. The arils L* value ranged from 15.7 (dark arils) for ‘Crown Jewel’ to 46.1 (light arils) for ‘Utah Sweet’. The a* values ranged from 0.6 (white arils) for ‘Cloud’ to 20.5 (red arils) for ‘Crab’. The b* values ranged from 8.7 for ‘DJ Forry’ (from a store) to 62.5 for ‘R9’. The Chroma* values ranged from 13.4 for ‘Cloud’ to 24.3 for ‘Crab’. The hue° values ranged from 29.7 for ‘Wonderful’ (from a store) to 87.1 for ‘Cloud’. Rind color was related to the color of the arils; high a* values in the rind and arils were associated with the red color. The fruit juice content ranged from 174 mL·kg−1 fruit for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 638 mL·kg−1 fruit for ‘Cloud’. Cultivars varied from tart to sweet. The fruit soluble solids concentration (SSC) ranged from 10.8% for ‘Sin Pepe’ to 16.4% for ‘Crown Jewel’. Fruit titratable acid (TA) ranged from 0.27% for ‘Sin Pepe’ to 6.20% for ‘Utah Sweet’. The juice maturity index measured as the SSC/TA ratio ranged from 1.9 for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 39.5 for ‘Sin Pepe’. The juice total phenols (measured as gallic acid equivalents) ranged from 463 mg·L−1 for ‘JC’ to 2468 mg·L−1 for ‘Wonderful’ (Georgia). Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity values of juice ranged from 10,001 µM for ‘King’ to 59,821 µM for ‘I11’. Cupric reducing antioxidant capacity values in juice ranged from 7471 µM for ‘Azadi’ to 20,576 µM for ‘Wonderful’ (Georgia). Juice total anthocyanins varied from 1.7 mg·L−1 for ‘R19’ to 50.0 mg·L−1 for ‘Wonderful’ (Georgia). Pomegranate cultivars showed large variability in physical and chemical attributes. Such pomegranate variability represents opportunities for breeding, for the retail market, and for the development of different products by the food industry.

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El-Sayed Mohamed El-Mahrouk, Eman Abdel-Hakim Eisa, Mahmoud Abdelnaby Hegazi, Mohamed El-Sayed Abdel-Gayed, Yaser Hassan Dewir, Mohammed Elsayed El-Mahrouk and Yougasphree Naidoo

Phytoremediation is an environmentally friendly and effective method of reducing contaminating ions to very low levels. In this study, the effects of different concentrations of cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), and lead (Pb) on vegetative growth and the chemical and biochemical compositions of Salix mucronata as well as the potential for phytoextraction of these metals by plant organs were investigated. S. mucronata had the highest survival percentage (100%) in the presence of CdCl2, CuCl2, and Pb acetate up to 80, 200, and 850 mg·kg−1 in soil, respectively. A negative influence of these metals on vegetative and chemical parameters was observed relative to the control plants. The potential role of antioxidant enzymes in protecting plants from oxidative injury was examined by analyzing the antioxidant enzyme activities of plants grown in contaminated and control soils. Enzymatic activities and electrolyte leakage were higher in the plants grown in soil with increasing heavy metals than in the control plants. The bioconcentrating efficiency of Cd, Cu, and Pb in plant organs was estimated to be medium [bioconcentration factor (BCF) of 1–0.1]; an exception was the BCF of Cu in the roots, which was estimated to be intensive (BCF < 1). Concentrations of 60 mg·kg−1 CdCl2, 50 mg·kg−1 CuCl2, and 650 mg·kg−1 Pb acetate caused significantly higher translocation compared with other levels of each pollutant. The biomass tolerance index was less than 1. Additionally, S. mucronata accumulated Cd, Cu, and Pb in the following order: roots > stems > leaves. Therefore, the risk of contamination through leaf fall can be minimized. Therefore, S. mucronata could be a good candidate for phytoremediation of Cd-, Cu-, and Pb-contaminated soil.

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Josh B. Henry, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Ingram McCall and Brian E. Whipker

Phosphorus (P) deficiency commonly results in the development of red-to-purple coloration in plant foliage, typically attributed to anthocyanins. Betacyanins are a red pigment found in some plant species that do not produce anthocyanins, including Alternanthera sp. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of P nutrition on the betacyanin concentration and subsequent foliar coloration of ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Brazilian Red Hots’, and ‘Little Ruby’ alternanthera (Alternanthera brasiliana). The purpose of this study was to determine whether P fertilization management could enhance the coloration and aesthetic appeal of alternanthera. Custom fertilizers provided P concentrations of 0, 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 mg·L−1 P. One-half of the plants from each P concentration were restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P 1 month after transplant to determine whether adequate size could be attained before withholding P. Differences in P response were observed among cultivars for hue, betacyanin content, and plant size. Concentrations ≤5 mg·L−1 P resulted in plants that were more compact in terms of plant height and diameter, had deeper red foliage coloration, and greater foliar betacyanins compared with plants grown with greater P concentrations. Plants initially grown with 5 or 10 mg·L−1 P attained marketable size before P restriction and developed more red pigmentation compared with plants grown with P for the remaining duration of the study. Regression analysis demonstrated height was maximized with 3 to 8 mg·L−1 P, diameter with 4.1 to 8.4 mg·L−1 P, and branching with 10.0 mg·L−1 P. Foliar betacyanin concentrations were greatest in plants grown without P, reaching 269 mg/100 g fresh weight, whereas plants grown with 10 or 20 mg·L−1 P were 95% less (averaged ≈13 mg/100 g fresh weight). This study demonstrates that P restriction can benefit the aesthetic appeal of alternanthera and provides the first confirmation that P nutrition is associated with betacyanin accumulation.

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He Huang, Yuting Liu, Ya Pu, Mi Zhang and Silan Dai

Plant growth and development are significantly affected by salt stress. Chrysanthemum lavandulifolium is a halophyte species and one of the ancestors of chrysanthemum (C. ×morifolium). Understanding how this species tolerates salt stress could provide vital insight for clarifying the salt response systems of higher plants, and chrysanthemum-breeding programs could be improved. In this study, salt tolerance was compared among C. lavandulifolium and three chrysanthemum cultivars by physiological experiments, among which C. lavandulifolium and Jinba displayed better tolerance to salt stress than the other two cultivars, whereas Xueshan was a salt-sensitive cultivar. Using the transcriptome database of C. lavandulifolium as a reference, we used digital gene expression technology to analyze the global gene expression changes in C. lavandulifolium seedlings treated with 200 mm NaCl for 12 hours compared with seedlings cultured in normal conditions. In total, 2254 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), including 1418 up-regulated and 836 down-regulated genes, were identified. These DEGs were significantly enriched in 35 gene ontology terms and 29 Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways. Genes related to signal transduction, ion transport, proline biosynthesis, reactive oxygen species scavenging systems, and flavonoid biosynthesis pathways were relevant to the salt tolerance of C. lavandulifolium. Furthermore, comparative gene expression analysis was conducted using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction to compare the transcriptional levels of significantly up-regulated DEGs in C. lavandulifolium and the salt-sensitive cultivar Xueshan, and species-specific differences were observed. The analysis of one of the DEGs, ClAKT, an important K+ transport gene, was found to enable transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana to absorb K+ and efflux Na+ under salt stress and to absorb K+ under drought stress. The present study investigated potential genes and pathways involved in salt tolerance in C. lavandulifolium and provided a hereditary resource for the confinement of genes and pathways responsible for salt tolerance in this species. This study provided a valuable source of reference genes for chrysanthemum cultivar transgenesis breeding.

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Xiaoxu Yang, Chang Liu, Zhishan Yan, Youjun Fan, Guojun Feng and Dajun Liu

Flowering time influences pod yield and quality of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris); however, our knowledge of flowering time genes and flowering mechanisms in common bean remain limited. We performed RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analyses [long-day (LD) condition and short-day (SD) condition] to identify the flowering time genes and analyzed differentially expressed genes to examine their expression levels in relation to flowering time in ‘Hong Jin Gou’ common bean, a cultivar highly sensitive to photoperiod. The circadian patterns of related genes were identified using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Flowering time in ‘Hong Jin Gou’ was influenced by day length: SD conditions promoted flowering. A total of eight flowering time–related genes were identified, which were classified into photoperiod pathways. Homologs of pseudo-response regulator 5, pseudo-response regulator 7, and gigantea were more highly expressed under SD conditions than under LD conditions. Homologs of late elongated hypocotyl and timing of cab expression 1 were differentially expressed under light and dark conditions. Early flowering 3 is a key regulator of the pathway, which coordinates light and circadian clock inputs in leaves to trigger the expression of downstream genes. The present study provides critical information that could facilitate further investigations on the genetic mechanism of flowering time in common bean.

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Lisa Tang, Shweta Chhajed, Tripti Vashisth, Mercy A. Olmstead, James W. Olmstead and Thomas A. Colquhoun

To determine how the dormancy-breaking agent hydrogen cyanamide (HC) advances budbreak in peach (Prunus persica), this study compared the transcriptome of buds of low-chill ‘TropicBeauty’ peach trees treated with 1% (v/v) HC and that of nontreated trees at 3 and 7 days after treatment (DAT), respectively, using an RNA sequencing analysis. The peak of total budbreak occurred 6 weeks earlier in the HC-treated trees (at 32 DAT) than the nontreated trees (at 74 DAT). There were 1312 and 1095 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) at 3 and 7 DAT, respectively. At 3 DAT, DEGs related to oxidative stress, including the response to hypoxia, lipid oxidation, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) metabolic process, were upregulated in HC-treated buds. Additionally, DEGs encoding enzymes for ROS scavenging and the pentose phosphate pathway were upregulated at 3 DAT but they were not differently expressed at 7 DAT, indicating a temporary demand for defense mechanisms against HC-triggered oxidative stress. Upregulation of DEGs for cell division and development at 7 DAT, which were downregulated at 3 DAT, suggests that cell activity was initially suppressed but was enhanced within 7 DAT. At 7 DAT, DEGs related to cell wall degradation and modification were upregulated, which was possibly responsible for the burst of buds. The results of this study strongly suggest that HC induces transient oxidative stress shortly after application, leading to the release of bud dormancy and, subsequently, causing an increase in cell activity and cell wall loosening, thereby accelerating budbreak in peach.

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Jennifer Wetzel and Alexandra Stone

Consumers are increasingly interested in buying local vegetables in the fall and winter. Winter squash is an important vegetable crop for local and regional fall and winter markets, and consumers are increasingly seeking high-culinary value Cucurbita maxima types such as kabocha and buttercup. Although consumer demand for kabocha and buttercup squash is increasing, Oregon farmers report they are marginally profitable. The goals of this project were 1) to identify productive kabocha and buttercup varieties for western Oregon when grown with or without overhead irrigation and 2) to describe the effects of planting density on yield, fruit weight, number of fruit per hectare, and fruit per plant. Seven varieties of C. maxima winter squash, including kabochas and buttercups, and one interspecific (C. maxima × C. moschata) hybrid ‘Tetsukabuto’ were grown in a split-split plot randomized complete block design experiment with irrigation as the main plot, planting density as the subplot, and variety as the sub-subplot. Four replications of four different planting densities for eight varieties were grown in 2016 and 2017. Irrigated planting densities ranged from 8611–32,292 plants/ha (0.86–3.2 plants/m2) and dryland planting densities ranged from 3827–14,352 plants/ha (0.38–1.4 plants/m2) in 2016 and 5741–21,528 plants/ha (0.57–2.2 plants/m2) in 2017. The seven C. maxima types had statistically comparable yield under both irrigated and dryland production, with an average yield of 33.9 t·ha−1 with irrigation and 19.4 t·ha−1 without irrigation. Dryland yields in 2016 and 2017 were 76% and 37% of irrigated yields, respectively. ‘Tetsukabuto’ had the greatest yield (mean, 51.4 t·ha−1), the greatest number of fruit per hectare (mean, 12,080), and the greatest number of fruit per plant (mean, 1.94) when grown with irrigation, and yielded comparably with other varieties when grown in dryland production. Planting density impacted the fruit weight, number of fruit per hectare, and number of fruit per plant, although it did not impact yield statistically in both irrigated and dryland production. Average fruit weight decreased linearly from 1.89 to 1.30 kg for the irrigated trials, from 2.04 to 1.56 kg in the 2016 dryland trial, and from 1.42 to 0.93 kg in the 2017 dryland trial as planting density increased from 0.86 to 3.2, 0.38 to 1.4, and 0.57 to 2.2 plants/m2, respectively. The number of fruit per hectare increased linearly from 6660 to 10,590 as the number of plants per hectare increased from 8611 to 32,292 plants/ha for the irrigated trials, because even at the lowest planting density, plants did not produce more than two fruit per plant on average across varieties when grown with irrigation. Farmers can manipulate squash fruit size to suit market preferences by changing planting density. The very low 2017 dryland yields were likely a result of unusually high summer temperatures in western Oregon. Increasingly hot summers may render dryland squash production unfeasible in this region.

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Ruimin Huang, Chao Shen, Susu Wang and Zhengjia Wang

Pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] is an important nut tree species, and Zn nutrition is critical for its growth and nut production. The aim of this study was to provide a perspective on Zn accumulation in pecan fruit over time and to determine the effects of Zn application on fruit quality. Two concentrations of ZnSO4 (0.4% and 1.6%) were sprayed onto the shuck or the nearest pair of leaflets. Purified water was sprayed similarly as the control. The results show that Zn application to the shuck and leaves increased the Zn concentration and content in embryos. The greater the concentration of the Zn solution sprayed, the greater the Zn concentration in the embryo. The greatest zinc concentration in the embryo was found during the early stage of embryo development. In the treatment during which 1.6% ZnSO4 was sprayed onto the shuck, the Zn concentration in the early embryo was 242.91 mg·kg–1, which was 2.2 times that of the control. Thereafter, embryo Zn concentration decreased gradually until maturity. The treatments could be ranked, from greatest Zn concentration in the mature embryo to least, as follows: 1.6% ZnSO4 on shuck (66.36 mg·kg–1) > 1.6% ZnSO4 on leaflets (64.28 mg·kg–1) > 0.4% ZnSO4 on leaflets (55.51 mg·kg–1) > 0.4% ZnSO4 on shuck (49.67 mg·kg–1) > control (47.34 mg·kg–1). A model was presented that showed Zn was transported from the shuck and leaves to the stalks through the conducting tissue, and then to the embryo through the embryo sac. The application of 0.4% ZnSO4 to the shuck resulted in the greatest oil content (74.05%), which was 10% greater than that in the control. Applications of 0.4% ZnSO4 to the shuck and leaflets resulted in a greater proportion of oleic acid (≈69%) and a lower proportion of linoleic acid (≈20%), palmitic acid (≈6.0%), and linolenic acid (≈1.1%). The results of this preliminary investigation are useful for exploring the mechanism of action for Zn on pecans.

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Travis R. Alexander, Thomas S. Collins and Carol A. Miles

‘Brown Snout’ cider apple (Malus ×domestica) is desired by cider makers for its relatively high levels of phenolics, and over-the-row machine harvesting of ‘Brown Snout’ has been demonstrated to provide similar yield to hand harvest at a significantly lower cost. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a measurable impact of harvest method on the phenolic profile of ‘Brown Snout’ juice and cider to better inform equipment adoption recommendations. Using a redox titration assay, the titratable tannin content (± SE) of juice (0.19% ± 0.01%) and cider (0.19% ± 0.01%) were found not to differ due to harvest method. Using a protein precipitation assay, juice from machine-harvested fruit was found to have lower levels of total tannins [231 ± 36 mg·L−1 catechin equivalents (CE)] than juice from hand-harvested fruit (420 ± 14 mg·L−1 CE). However, the total tannins of cider did not differ due to harvest method, the overall average for machine and hand harvest was 203 ± 22 mg·L−1 CE. The total phenolics of juice and cider did not differ due to harvest method (1415 ± 98 mg·L−1 CE and 1431 ± 73 mg·L−1 CE, respectively). Discriminant analysis based on an average of 33 tentatively identified phenolic compounds, as measured by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry, showed no separation due to harvest method in juice or cider. In conclusion, over-the-row machine harvesting of ‘Brown Snout’ resulted in a final product of similar quality at reduced labor costs, and thus shows potential for increasing the commercial sustainability of cider apple operations.