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Gina M. Angelella, Laura Stange, Holly L. Scoggins and Megan E. O’Rourke

On-farm pollinator refuge habitats can supplement floral and nesting resources to support wild and managed pollinator communities. Although the popularity of installing these habitats has grown, and federal programs provide technical and financial advice to participating landowners, recommendations regarding habitat establishment and species composition vary. We examined the effects of seedbed preparation, seed mix composition, and herbicide applications on pollinator refuge establishment and pollinator visitation in a controlled experiment across 2 years. Seedbeds were prepared either by a no-till method with glyphosate herbicide or by repeated conventional inversion tillage. Seed mixes contained either nine annual, biennial, and perennial forbs (mix AP); seven annual, biennial, and perennial forbs that are tolerant to imazapic herbicide (mix IT); or nine perennial forbs (mix P). Mixes AP and P were grown with and without application of the graminicide herbicide sethoxydim and mix IT was grown with application of the herbicide imazapic. Seedbed preparation methodology had a strong impact on pollinator refuge establishment. A no-till approach generated greater wildflower and lower weed cover relative to tillage, leading to a greater number of blooms. In particular, there were more Indian blanket, purple coneflower, slender mountain mint, and wild bergamot blooms following a no-till seedbed preparation, indicating that certain species are more vulnerable to the effects of tillage than others. The AP and IT treatments displayed more wildflower and less weed percent cover than the P treatments during the first year, but in the second year wildflower and weed cover were similar across all mixes grown with and without herbicide. Overall pollinator abundance, which was dominated by native bees, correlated positively with wildflower bloom counts, suggesting that habitat establishment methods that increase wildflower blooms can positively affect the pollinator conservation value of the habitats. This research indicates that establishing on-farm wildflower habitats can be most successful with no-till seedbed preparation, a mixture of annual, biennial, and perennial forb species, and that herbicides applied after planting wildflowers may not be worth the costs of application.

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Lisa Tang, Shweta Chhajed and Tripti Vashisth

For field-grown ‘Valencia’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) affected by Huanglongbing [HLB (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas)], trees that displayed more severe HLB symptoms (severe trees) had 74% fruit drop before harvest; however, the drop rate for less symptomatic trees (mild trees) was 45%. For mature fruit (3 weeks before harvest) still attached to the branches, 60% of them from severe trees were “loose fruit” [fruit detachment force (FT) < 6 kgf]. In contrast, only 13% of the attached fruit from the mild trees were loose. Overall, fresh weight and size of loose fruit were lower than “tight fruit” (FT > 6 kgf). Irrespective of the symptom levels of trees, the concentrations of glucose, fructose, and inositol in juice of loose fruit were the same or larger than those of tight fruit, suggesting that the shortage of carbohydrates is not the dominant cause of HLB-associated preharvest fruit drop. Expression levels of the cell wall modification genes encoding cellulase (endo-1,4-β-glucanase), polygalacturonase, and pectate lyase were greater in the calyx abscission zones of loose fruit compared to tight fruit, indicating that cell separation was occurring in the former at the time of collection. No differences in the expression levels of genes encoding the ethylene biosynthesis enzymes, including 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) synthase (ACS) and ACC oxidase (ACO), and an ethylene-responsive transcription factor 1 (ERF1) were observed in tissues of loose and tight fruit. Interestingly, ACS, ACO, and EFR1 expressions were lower in calyx abscission zones and in leaves of the severe trees compared with those of mild trees, suggesting an ostensible, HLB-dependent reduction in ethylene biosynthesis and/or signaling close to harvest time. However, the role of ethylene in HLB-associated preharvest fruit drop remains to be determined. The results leave open the possibility of early ethylene production and action before the initiation of fruit abscission.

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Jacob A. Griffith Gardner, Jessica D. Lubell and Mark H. Brand

Comptonia peregrina is a desirable native ornamental plant for challenging landscapes, but it cannot be produced using conventional softwood stem cuttings. We demonstrate that C. peregrina can be successfully propagated using young shoots (6 to 8 cm in length) recently emerged from rhizomes taken as cuttings. Although significantly more cuttings rooted using intermittent mist (99%) than propagation dome (70%), cuttings under propagation domes had greater shoot counts. Due to the drier and warmer conditions under propagation domes, cutting shoot tips were killed, which relieved apical dominance and stimulated lateral budbreak. Cuttings rooted under propagation domes produced plants having greater height, width, and size after 90 d than cuttings rooted under intermittent mist. Treatment of cuttings with talc-based rooting hormone at 3000 and 8000 ppm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) significantly improved rooting percentage and shoot count over untreated cuttings. Cuttings treated with 8000 ppm IBA produced the most roots. Container plants grown from cuttings and pruned to 7 cm in height produced twice as many shoots as unpruned plants. Using cuttings taken from young shoots (6 to 8 cm) produced from rhizomes, 3000 or 8000 ppm IBA, and intermittent mist nursery growers can achieve rooting percentages for C. peregrina above the 80% benchmark preferred for commercial plant production.

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Zhongshuai Gai, Yu Wang, Jutang Jiang, Hui Xie, Zhaotang Ding, Shibo Ding and Hui Wang

The identification and evaluation of tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze] germplasm resources are of great significance for tea plant breeding. In recent years, various methods, such as morphology, biochemistry, molecular markers, and sensory evaluation, have been used to evaluate the tea germplasm resources. However, the evaluation of tea germplasms based on metabolomics is rarely reported. In this study, we first measured the main agronomic characters and biochemical components of tea young shoots in spring, and then analyzed the metabolic profiles using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The results indicate that tea germplasm accessions QN3 and QN38 had excellent agronomic traits with early germination and high yield compared with HM. The biosynthesis of flavonoids in young shoots of QN3 was more vigorous, especially for the biosynthesis of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG). Accession QN3 had highest content of luteoloside, myricetin and rutin, whereas QN38 had highest content of most amino acids. On the basis of sensory quality evaluation, accession QN3 and QN38 all had higher total quality scores. By using these approaches, we found that QN3 and QN38 are excellent breeding materials with high yield and high quality for making green teas. We also believe that the evaluation system constructed by the approaches described here is suitable for the identification of tea germplasms.

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Sima Panahirad, Rahim Naghshiband-Hassani, Babak Ghanbarzadeh, Fariborz Zaare-Nahandi and Nasser Mahna

This study investigated the carboxymethylcellulose (CMC)-based edible coating effects on some quality parameters and enzyme activities of plum fruits (Prunus domestica L. cv. Golden drop) during their shelf life. Three concentrations of CMC (0.5%, 1%, and 1.5%), plasticized with glycerol (0.3% w/v), were applied to plum fruits plus a control treated with only distilled water. The results demonstrate that the CMC-based edible coating was significantly effective in maintaining firmness and titratable acidity (TA); vitamin C, anthocyanin, and flavonoid content; and the antioxidant capacity of plum fruits. Enzymatic activity was affected significantly by the coating. Peroxidase (POD) activity increased, and polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and polygalacturonase (PG) decreased. In general, the formulation consisting of 1% CMC showed the best results in most of the measured parameters. Taking into account the positive effects on qualitative and biochemical characteristics of CMC-based edible coatings on plums, their application can be a potentially promising method to enhance the shelf-life of this fruit.

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Russell Galanti, Alyssa Cho, Amjad Ahmad and Theodore Radovich

Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia, Maiden & Betche) orchard management in Hawaii can result in the loss of organic matter and soil degradation. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of macadamia husk mulch, husk mulch combined with biochar, husk mulch combined with effective microorganisms (EM), soil profiling, and wood chip mulch on yield, nut quality, root growth, and SPAD values during a 1-year study of mature macadamia orchards at two locations in Hawaii. A partial cost–benefit analysis was performed to compare the costs and yield benefits of each treatment. Soil profiling resulted in higher yields than any other treatment, at a mean of 86.6 kg wet-in-husk per tree. No treatments significantly affected nut quality or dry kernel weight. Nut quality was affected by harvesting time, with the earliest harvesting (Aug. 2017) period resulting in the highest recovery rate of number 1 grade kernels (33%). SPAD values increased with the husk mulch combined with EM (6.5%) treatment and soil profiling treatment (6.9%). Husk combined with EM caused an 87% increase in total root biomass during the study period due to increased proteoid root biomass. The soil profiling treatment had the second lowest estimated cost per hectare and had the highest estimated partial profit per hectare. Soil profiling is a destructive management practice and should be used judiciously until its long-term effects on orchard health are studied. The inoculation of EM or sugar signaling may have been responsible for the proliferation of proteoid roots with the husk mulch and EM treatment.

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Jason D. Lattier, Hsuan Chen and Ryan N. Contreras

Althea (Hibiscus syriacus) is a shrub prized for its winterhardiness and colorful summer flowers. Altheas are tetraploids (2n = 4x = 80); however, breeders have developed hexaploids and octoploids. Previous studies report anatomical variation among polyploids, including stomata size. The purpose of this study was 4-fold. First, identify genome size and ploidy variation in cultivars via flow cytometry and chromosome counts. Second, create a ploidy series consisting of 4x, 5x, 6x, and 8x cytotypes. Third, investigate the ploidy series for variation in stomatal guard cell lengths, stomatal density, and copy number of fluorescent ribosomal DNA (rDNA) signals. Fourth, investigate segregation patterns of rDNA signals in a subset of pentaploid seedlings. Flow cytometry revealed most cultivars to be tetraploid with holoploid 2C genome sizes from 4.55 ± 0.02 to 4.78 ± 0.06 pg. Five taxa (‘Aphrodite’, ‘Pink Giant’, ‘Minerva’, Azurri Satin®, and Raspberry Smoothie™) were hexaploids (6.68 ± 0.13 to 7.05 ± 0.18 pg). Peppermint Smoothie™ was a cytochimera with tetraploid cells (4.61 ± 0.06 pg) and octoploid cells (8.98 ± 0.13 pg). To create pentaploids, reciprocal combinations were made between hexaploid ‘Pink Giant’ and tetraploid cultivars. To create octoploids, seedlings were treated with agar solutions containing 0.2% colchicine or 125 μM oryzalin. Guard cell lengths were significantly different among the four cytotypes: 4x (27.36 ± 0.04 μm), 5x (30.35 ± 1.28 μm), 6x (35.59 ± 0.63 μm), and 8x (40.48 ± 1.05 μm). Measurements of stomatal density revealed a precipitous decline in average density from the 4x cytotype (398.22 ± 15.43 stomata/mm2) to 5x cytotype (194.06 ± 38.69 stomata/mm2) but no significant difference among 5x, 6x, and 8x cytotypes. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) revealed an increase in 5S and 45S rDNA signals that scaled with ploidy: 4x (two 5S + four 45S), 6x (three 5S + six 45S), and 8x (four 5S + eight 45S). However, pentaploid (5x) seedlings exhibited random segregation of rDNA signals between the 4x and 6x cytotypes, including all six possible combinations (two 5S, three 5S) × (four 45S, five 45S, six 45S).

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Yifei Wang, Stephanie K. Fong, Ajay P. Singh, Nicholi Vorsa and Jennifer Johnson-Cicalese

The flavonoid and organic acid profiles of one cultivated tetraploid and six wild diploid blueberry species (Vaccinium spp.) were systematically investigated using high-performance liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization–tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS-MS). Eighteen individual anthocyanins from five aglycone classes were characterized among species, with malvidin and delphinidin glycosides accounting for 31.4% and 29.1% of total anthocyanins. Twenty-three flavonol glycosides from six aglycone classes were identified, among which quercetin and myricetin glycosides accounted for more than 80% of total flavonols in most species. Both inter- and intraspecies differences in anthocyanin and flavonol composition were observed, as described by principal component analysis. Only B-type proanthocyanidins were found in blueberry species, and highly polymerized molecules with degree of polymerization greater than 10 appeared to be the most abundant fraction. Although overall proanthocyanidin levels varied from 27.7 to 146.3 mg/100 g fruit, all species exhibited similar proanthocyanidin composition. Citric, quinic, and shikimic acid were the major identified blueberry organic acids. However, their relative abundance varied across species. In certain species either citric acid (e.g., Vaccinium darrowii) or quinic acid (e.g., Vaccinium corymbosum) was lacking.

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J Austin Gimondo, Christopher J. Currey, Darren H. Jarboe, Martin Gross and William R. Graves

Drawbacks of traditional synthetic fertilizer led us to explore a biologically based (bio-based) alternative. Our objective was to quantify the efficacy of wastewater-grown algae pellets and pastes harvested from rotating algal biofilm systems as fertilizers for three crops, ‘Honeycomb’ marigold (Tagetes patula L.), ‘Beefsteak’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), and ‘Ambrosia’ sweet corn (Zea mays L.). Factorial experiments were designed for each crop with fertilizer type (algae pellets, algae paste, a synthetic controlled-release fertilizer, or a commercially available bio-based fertilizer from wastewater treatment) and substrate (commercial or custom-made) as factors. Shoot growth, shoot nutrient concentration, and substrate pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were affected by fertilizer, substrate, or their interaction. Algae pellets and paste supplied nutrients to all three species effectively, increasing shoot size, dry weight, perceived health, and nutrient concentrations compared with unfertilized controls. Notwithstanding some variability among crops, performance of algal materials was similar to that of the synthetic fertilizer and better than that of the commercial bio-based fertilizer. As a bio-based fertilizer that supplies plants with recycled nutrients sequestered from wastewater, wastewater-grown algae can reduce the impacts of mineral nutrition management in container-crop production by partially supplanting synthetic fertilizer use.

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Patrick P. Moore, Wendy Hoashi-Erhardt, Chad E. Finn, Robert R. Martin and Michael Dossett