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Peter M.A. Toivonen, Jared Stoochnoff, Kevin Usher, Changwen Lu, Paul A. Wiersma and Chunhua Zhou

The market value of the apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivar Ambrosia is closely linked to the characteristic blush on the skin surface. For ‘Ambrosia’ orchards that produce consistently low levels of surface blush, the implementation of reflective rowcovering has improved surface coloration, but the reflected wavebands responsible for this enhanced color production have not been confirmed. This study consisted of two separate experiments: one conducted in the field to confirm reflective rowcovering efficacy and the other in a controlled environment cabinet to determine which waveband was enhancing red blush production. The red blush production in orchards with and without reflective rowcovering was then directly compared with the red blush produced on the surface of apples that were poorly colored at harvest and then exposed to visible, fluorescent, ultraviolet A (UVA), or ultraviolet B (UVB) light sources within the controlled environment chamber. Consequent analysis of the red blush color within the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage a* and b* color space was conducted to evaluate the quality of the red blush pigment under each treatment in the field and the controlled environment chamber. The analysis revealed that the red blush that developed on apples from the reflective rowcover treatment most closely matched the red blush that developed in response to UVB exposure in the controlled environment cabinet. Further analysis of gene expression and anthocyanin contents in the ‘Ambrosia’ apples support the hypothesis that the primary driver for the characteristic red blush development, when reflective rowcovers are used, is increased exposure to UVB light.

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Maciej A. Pszczolkowski, Kyndra Chastain, Rachel Veenstra and Martin L. Kaps

The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) is one of the most widespread and destructive invasive insect pests in the eastern United States. Blackberry (Rubus sp.) production in the United States has increased significantly in recent years. With the introduction of new blackberry cultivars, insect resistance should become the focus of further breeding efforts. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the susceptibility of 13 blackberry cultivars to the Japanese beetle. The seasonal population dynamics of this insect, beetle damage to blackberry foliage, and beetle preference of blackberry cultivars were monitored from 2016 to 2018 on a blackberry plantation in Mountain Grove, MO. Japanese beetles feeding on blackberries occurred between 814 to 1251 cumulative degree-days (CDD; base, 10 °C) after 1 Jan. The following cultivars were evaluated: Apache, APF-40, Arapaho, Chester, Chickasaw, Kiowa, Natchez, Osage, Ouachita, Prime-Ark 45, Prime-Jan, Prime-Jim, and Triple Crown. Foliage damage incidence, defined as average percentage of leaves damaged by beetles on a given cane, did not differ among the cultivars. However, average severity of damage, estimated by rating on a scale from 0 (least) to 5 (most) of all damaged leaves on a given cane was different among cultivars. Ouachita and APF-40 exhibited the lowest damage severity rating among floricanes and primocanes, respectively. Apache (a floricane) and Prim-Jan (a primocane) were the most susceptible cultivars. Japanese beetle preferences for cultivars correlated with the degree of foliage damage. Because all blackberry cultivars exhibited similar foliage feeding incidence, but different feeding severity, we suggest the Japanese beetle does not differentiate among blackberry cultivars from a distance, but does upon contact with the foliage of a given plant.

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Min Fan, Yike Gao, Yaohui Gao, Zhiping Wu, Hua Liu and Qixiang Zhang

Simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers are valuable for genetic and breeding applications, but SSR resources for the ornamental genus chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium Ramat.) are still limited. Expressed sequence tags (ESTs) are sources of SSRs that represent an opportunity to develop SSRs to accelerate molecular breeding in chrysanthemum. In total, 4661 SSR loci were identified from 3823 SSR-containing unigenes in the chrysanthemum transcriptome with an average of one SSR per 6.98 kb. Of these SSR sequences, trinucleotide repeats (30.0%) predominated, followed by dinucleotide repeats (17.9%). In total, 1584 primer pairs were subsequently synthesized. By screening the parents and six individuals of the F1 progeny, 831 (52.5%) valid EST-SSR markers were identified, of which 361 (43.4%) were polymorphic. The annotation of unigenes containing polymorphic SSRs indicated that 330 (93.5%) demonstrated significant homology to other plant protein sequences. Twenty-five polymorphic EST-SSR markers were further selected for transferability analysis and exhibited 93% amplification in six Ajania species and six other Chrysanthemum species. Based on genotyping of the 59 samples, neighbor-joining analysis revealed six phylogenetic groupings, which was confirmed by population structure analysis and principal component analysis (PCA). Phylogenetic relationships among the 59 samples revealed by SSRs were highly consistent with the traditional taxonomic classification of Chrysanthemum and Ajania. The polymorphism information content (PIC) values ranged from 0.29 to 0.86, with a mean of 0.67, indicating high levels of informativeness. This research reveals the SSR distribution characteristics of chrysanthemum and provides a large number of new EST-SSR markers for further genetic diversity studies, genetic mapping, and molecular marker-assisted selection breeding for chrysanthemum.

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Melinda A. Miller-Butler, Barbara J. Smith, Brian R. Kreiser and Eugene K. Blythe

Strawberry anthracnose diseases are caused primarily by three Colletotrichum species: C. acutatum J.H. Simmonds, C. fragariae A.N. Brooks, and C. gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz. & Sacc. Molecular markers are being used in breeding programs to identify alleles linked to disease resistance and other positive agronomic traits. In our study, strawberry cultivars and breeding germplasm with known anthracnose susceptibility or resistance to the three anthracnose-causing Colletotrichum species were screened for two sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers linked to the Rca2 gene. The Rca2 resistant allele SCAR markers were associated with varying degrees of significance for a strawberry plant’s anthracnose resistance to C. fragariae but not to C. acutatum or C. gloeosporioides. Although the presence or absence of the markers associated with the Rca2 resistance gene is an imperfect indicator of anthracnose resistance, it may serve as a useful starting point in selecting germplasm for breeding programs.

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Will Wheeler, Reagan Wytsalucy, Brent Black, Grant Cardon and Bruce Bugbee

Native American tribes have been cultivating peaches [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] since their introduction to North America in the 1600s. In the American Southwest, peach orchards derived from centuries of seed selections have been maintained in relative isolation from commercial cultivars. These Native American peach selections may be better adapted to the arid climate of the Intermountain West. We compared physiological robustness during water stress of seedling peaches from a 60-year-old orchard maintained by Navajo farmers in southwestern Utah to the commercial peach rootstock Lovell. Six replicate trees of each rootstock were subjected to eight cycles of controlled drought on an automated lysimeter system, which monitored transpiration rate continuously. Trees were selected for uniform size and transpiration rate at the start of the study. During the drought cycles, individual trees were watered when their transpiration rate decreased to less than 250 g of water per day, ≈20% of their well-watered daily transpiration rate. After the first cycle of drought, the transpiration rate of the Navajo trees was greater than the Lovell trees, so they depleted their root-zone water more rapidly and experienced greater water stress. Despite greater stress, the Navajo selection had greater leaf area and dry weight at harvest. Because the root system was confined, these results indicate that the Navajo selection may have greater resilience when experiencing drought, independent of the depth and distribution of the root system. However, this study was not able to determine whether physiological resilience during drought was a result of canopy or root characteristics. Field studies are needed to determine whether root distribution or depth also contribute to drought tolerance in the Navajo selection.

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Yinping Li, Raymond A. Cloyd and Nora M. Bello

Western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, is one of the most destructive insect pests of greenhouse-grown horticultural crops. The primary method of managing western flower thrips populations involves applications of insecticides; however, there is no information associated with the effect of the insect growth regulator, pyriproxyfen, or the entomopathogenic fungus, Isaria fumosorosea, on western flower thrips pupae in growing media. Therefore, four laboratory experiments were conducted to determine the effect of pyriproxyfen and I. fumosorosea applied as a drench to growing media on western flower thrips pupae. Expt. 1 evaluated the efficacy of pyriproxyfen and I. fumosorosea on western flower thrips pupae. Based on the results from Expt. 1, Expt. 2 assessed the effect of pyriproxyfen in two growing media (LC1 and BM1) on western flower thrips pupae. Expts. 3 and 4 determined the residual activity of pyriproxyfen in growing media on western flower thrips pupae 3, 5, 7, and 14 days after treatments were applied. The pyriproxyfen treatment resulted in a significantly lower estimated mean probability of western flower thrips adults captured on yellow sticky cards (17%) compared with the water control (59%), untreated check (88%), and two I. fumosorosea treatments (46% for 1.0 g and 41% for 2.0 g of Ancora) in Expt. 1. However, for the two growing media in Expt. 2, the estimated mean probability of western flower thrips adults captured on yellow sticky cards was not significantly different between the pyriproxyfen treatment (LC1 = 15%; BM1 = 12%) and the water control (LC1 = 41%; BM1 = 24%). For either the pyriproxyfen treatment or the untreated check, there was no evidence of a significant difference between the two growing media on the estimated mean probability of western flower thrips adults captured on yellow sticky cards. Furthermore, there was no evidence of any residual activity 3 days after drench applications of pyriproxyfen. The results of the study have demonstrated that drench applications of pyriproxyfen are not affecting survival of western flower thrips pupae.

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Ambani R. Mudau, Puffy Soundy, Hintsa T. Araya and Fhatuwani N. Mudau

Spinach is an annual, cool-season, green leafy vegetable that in temperate areas can be grown year-round. However, different seasons can influence the quality and shelf life of the produce. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of different seasons on the quality of baby spinach leaves during growing and postharvest storage. The study was initiated in early Nov. 2013 and culminated toward the end of Oct. 2014, then was repeated from Nov. 2014 until Oct. 2015. A 4 × 5 × 3 factorial experiment was laid out in a randomized complete block design with four replicates per treatment. The treatments were arranged as follows. In autumn, winter, spring, and summer, leaves were kept up to 12 d at three different temperatures: 4, 10, and 20 °C. Parameters recorded are weight loss, leaf length, total flavonoids, and antioxidant activity. Results of the study demonstrate that the level of antioxidants in winter remained stable during storage, specifically at 4 °C, followed by autumn and spring. In contrast, the summer season reflected the worse potential of retaining a level of antioxidants compared with the other seasons. On day 12, at a storage temperature of 4 °C, winter maintained 0.55 mg·g–1 dry weight (DW), whereas autumn, spring, and summer had 0.41, 0.40, and 0.11 mg·g–1 DW, respectively. In conclusion, it is recommended that baby spinach growers consider winter, autumn, and spring for growing baby spinach to manage the quality favorably during the postharvest storage period in South Africa.

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Kristine M. Lang and Ajay Nair

High tunnels allow vegetable growers to extend the growing season, increase crop production, and improve produce quality. Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.) are the most widely grown crops in high tunnels; however, tomato production in high tunnels can be challenging. Continuous cropping in high tunnels can increase soil-borne disease pressure and can lead to soil salinity or nutrient depletion issues. Based on preliminary research, we hypothesized that use of the rootstock ‘RST-04-106-T’ would increase yield and quality of heirloom and hybrid tomato scions compared with nongrafted plants. To test this hypothesis, our research objectives were to assess marketable yields, fruit quality and nutritional value, and plant growth of grafted and nongrafted hybrid and heirloom tomatoes in a high tunnel production system. Grafted and nongrafted ‘Cherokee Purple’ (heirloom) and ‘Mountain Fresh Plus’ (hybrid) tomatoes were grown in the same high tunnel for two seasons (7 May–20 Oct. 2015 and 29 April–7 Oct. 2016) at the Horticulture Research Station in Ames, IA. Grafted plants produced significantly more marketable fruit, although marketable and total fruit weight did not increase significantly. Individual fruit size was unaffected by grafting. Across cultivars, mean soluble solids content (SSC) in fruit was 0.3 °Brix lower in grafted plants as compared with the nongrafted control. Grafting did not affect lycopene content of fruit. Grafting increased stem diameter by an average of 0.8 mm, but overall plant biomass was unaffected. The effect of grafting on leaf chlorophyll concentration (SPAD readings) was mixed. In addition, grafting increased leaf chlorophyll concentration in ‘Cherokee Purple’ but decreased it in ‘Mountain Fresh Plus’ plants. Grafting is a valuable tool in tomato production, but the impact of ‘RST-04-106-T’ rootstock use appears to be specific to certain soil types with high incidence of bacterial wilt.

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Keun H. Cho, Veronica Y. Laux, Nathan Wallace-Springer, David G. Clark, Kevin M. Folta and Thomas A. Colquhoun

Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) is an attractive and popular ornamental plant with propagation mainly achieved through vegetative cuttings. For commercial purposes, it is of interest to enhance the speed of establishment while maintaining high quality. Light quality has been shown to influence adventitious root development, so these experiments examined the effect of narrow-bandwidth light treatments on root growth and overall plant quality for seven coleus cultivars with vegetative cuttings in potting soil and one cultivar with shoot tip in vitro cultures onto Murashige and Skoog (MS) agar medium. During the 28 days of the propagation period, the cuttings grown under narrow-bandwidth red light (R; 663.4 nm at peak) more than doubled in the adventitious root number compared with those under blue light (B; 445.7 nm at peak) and green light (G; 530.0 nm at peak) in five cultivars. R light also increased fresh weight of the cuttings by 55.6% more than G light. In comparison, the cuttings grown under G light yielded significantly lower root and shoot dry mass than other light treatments. R light cuttings showed more dry mass content (9.63%) than those under white light (W; 437.4 nm and 559.5 nm at peak) and G light (7.85% and 5.86%, respectively). A positive correlation (R 2 = 0.598, P < 0.001) was found between the formation of adventitious roots and gained fresh weight of cuttings. R light made the reddish color of leaves significantly stronger in most cultivars, whereas the cuttings exposed to G light became less vivid compared with other light conditions. When the shoot tips were propagated in vitro onto MS medium, R light treatment initiated the root development more rapidly than other lights, with significantly greater rooting rate (20.0% and 63.6%, respectively) at day 5 and 10. The shoot tips under R light also formed significantly more roots (12.3 per cutting) than those grown under narrow-bandwidth B light (5.8 per cutting). The shoot tips showed browning at an early stage and newly emerged leaves grew very compactly under B light. The combination of red and green light (R+G) increased more than twice as much roots and dry mass compared with W light. In addition, the R+G light led to morphological changes, including larger leaves and longer petioles and internodes than those in other light treatments. The exposure to R+G+B and B light made the shoots very compact for the 28 days of in vitro culture period and significantly increased the chlorophyll contents resulting in dark green leaves.

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Sawyer N. Adams, Walter O. Ac-Pangan and Lorenzo Rossi

The accumulation of salt deposits in the soil is becoming a major problem in agriculture. The problem can affect citrus production, which is already seriously hindered in Florida by the disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB, or citrus greening). With the citrus industry declining, it is imperative to study all potential environmental stresses affecting the citrus cultivation and to conduct screening tests to evaluate which rootstocks perform best under these challenging new conditions. This study aims to determine how the ‘US-942’ rootstock reacts to salinity. Thirty-six 3-month-old ‘US-942’ citrus rootstock seedlings were grown in a greenhouse. After 15 d of acclimation, plants were assigned to one of six groups and treated for 30 d with solutions of 25% Hoagland solution amended with 0 (control), 30, 60, 90, 120, or 150 mm NaCl. Higher NaCl concentrations significantly hindered plant growth and negatively affected some physiological processes [i.e., stomatal conductance (g S)] and chlorophyll contents. Conversely, plants treated with mild concentrations (30 mm NaCl) had higher plant biomass and exhibited higher photosynthetic efficiency. Free hand sections of fresh roots were taken at the end of the experiment, and the suberin lamellae development was examined under a fluorescence microscope. In conclusion, results reported that ‘US-942’ rootstock is tolerant to mild salt stress and confirmed the hypothesis that the formation of root apoplastic barriers and the increase in the root biomass could be two possible mechanisms that give the ‘US-942’ a mild NaCl stress tolerance.