Excess salinity is becoming a prevalent problem for production of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium L. section Cyanococcus Gray), but information on how and when it affects the plants is needed. Two experiments, including one on the northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivar, Bluecrop, and another on the southern highbush (V. corymbosum interspecific hybrid) cultivar, Springhigh, were conducted to investigate their response to salinity and assess whether any suppression in growth was ion specific or due primarily to osmotic stress. In both cases, the plants were grown in soilless media (calcined clay) and fertigated using a complete nutrient solution containing four levels of salinity [none (control), low (0.7–1.3 mmol·d−1), medium (1.4–3.4 mmol·d−1), and high (2.8–6.7 mmol·d−1)] from either NaCl or CaCl2. Drainage was minimized in each treatment except for periodic determination of electrical conductivity (EC) using the pour-through method, which, depending on the experiment, reached levels as high as 3.2 to 6.3 dS·m−1 with NaCl and 7.8 to 9.5 dS·m−1 with CaCl2. Total dry weight of the plants was negatively correlated to EC and, depending on source and duration of the salinity treatment, decreased linearly at a rate of 1.6 to 7.4 g·dS−1·m−1 in ‘Bluecrop’ and 0.4 to 12.5 g·dS−1·m−1 in ‘Springhigh’. Reductions in total dry weight were initially similar between the two salinity sources; however, by the end of the study, which occurred at 125 days in ‘Bluecrop’ and at 111 days in ‘Springhigh’, dry weight declined more so with NaCl than with CaCl2 in each part of the plant, including in the leaves, stems, and roots. The percentage of root length colonized by mycorrhizal fungi also declined with increasing levels of salinity in Bluecrop and was lower in both cultivars when the plants were treated with NaCl than with CaCl2. However, leaf damage, which included tip burn and marginal necrosis, was greater with CaCl2 than with NaCl. In general, CaCl2 had no effect on uptake or concentration of Na in the plant tissues, whereas NaCl reduced Ca uptake in both cultivars and reduced the concentration of Ca in the leaves and stems of Bluecrop and in each part of the plant in Springhigh. Salinity from NaCl also resulted in higher concentrations of Cl and lower concentrations of K in the plant tissues than CaCl2 in both cultivars. The concentration of other nutrients in the plants, including N, P, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn, was also affected by salinity, but in most cases, the response was similar between the two salts. These results point to ion-specific effects of different salts on the plants and indicate that source is an important consideration when managing salinity in highbush blueberry.
David R. Bryla, Carolyn F. Scagel, Scott B. Lukas, and Dan M. Sullivan
Ved Parkash, Sukhbir Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sanjit K. Deb, Glen L. Ritchie, and Russell W. Wallace
Water scarcity is increasing in the world, which is limiting crop production, especially in water-limited areas such as Southern High Plains of the United States. There is a need to adopt the irrigation management practices that can help to conserve water and sustain crop production in such water-limited areas. A 2-year field study was conducted during the summers of 2019 and 2020 to evaluate the effect of deficit irrigation levels and cultivars on root distribution pattern, soil water depletion, and water use efficiency (WUE) of cucumber (Cucumis sativus). The experiment was conducted in a split-plot design with four irrigation levels [100%, 80%, 60%, and 40% crop evapotranspiration (ETc)] as main plot factor and two cultivars (Poinsett 76 and Marketmore 76) as subplot factor with three replications. Results showed that root length density (RLD) was unaffected by the irrigation levels in 2019. In 2020, the RLD was comparable between 100% and 80% ETc, and it was significantly higher in 100% ETc than both 60% Eand 40% ETc. Root surface area density (RSAD) was not significantly different between 100% and 80% ETc, and it was significantly lower in both 60% and 40% ETc than 100% ETc in both years. Soil water depletion was the highest in 40% ETc followed by 60% and 80% ETc, and it was least in 100% ETc in both years. Evapotranspiration (ET) was the highest in 100% ETc followed by 80%, 60%, and 40% ETc. The WUE was not statistically different among the irrigation treatments. However, numerically, WUE was observed in the following order: 80% ETc > 100% ETc > 60% ETc > 40% ETc. The RLD, RSAD, soil water depletion, and ET were not significantly different between ‘Poinsett 76’ and ‘Marketmore 76’. However, fruit yield was significantly higher in ‘Poinsett 76’ than ‘Marketmore 76’, which resulted in higher WUE in Poinsett 76. It can be concluded that 80% ETc and Poinsett 76 cultivar can be adopted for higher crop water productivity and successful cucumber production in SHP.
Ying Fang, Ting Lei, Yanmei Wu, and Xuehua Jin
The calla lily (Zantedeschia hybrida) is a valued ornamental plant due to its unique shape and color variations. To determine the mechanisms responsible for color development in the calla lily spathe, we conducted a comparative transcriptomic analysis of the spathes of the black [Black Girl (B)], pink [Romantic (P)], and white [Ventura (W)] cultivars. The gene expression patterns in six spathe colors, including the preceding three colors as well as the amaranth [Promise (N)], red [Figo (F)], and yellow [Sun Club (Y)] cultivars were analyzed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Transcriptomic analysis identified 25,165 differentially expressed genes. The transcription abundance and expression level of genes annotated as anthocyanidin reductase (ANR1, ANR2), basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH1), and glutathione S-transferases (GST1) were significantly upregulated in B, and the expression of anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) was highest in B except for N. However, chalcone isomerase (CHI2) and dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR1, DFR2) were expressed at significantly lower levels in P, W, and Y. Correlation analysis revealed that bHLH1 might act as a positive regulator of ANS expression, promoting anthocyanin synthesis. Moreover, GST1-encoded proteins may be related to the accumulation and transport of both anthocyanin and procyanidin in the calla lily spathe. It is speculated that the formation of the black spathe is related to the accumulation of anthocyanins and procyanidins. However, the low expression of CHI2, DFR1, and DFR2 may result in the inhibition of anthocyanin synthesis, which may lead to lightening of the spathe color. This preliminary study revealed the mechanism responsible for calla lily spathe color, identifying the key genes involved, thus providing effective gene resources and a theoretical basis for flower color molecular breeding.
Bruce L. Dunn, Stephen Stanphill, and Carla Goad
This study aimed to identify the best method to improve poor branching of poinsettia ‘Orange Spice’. Treatments included pinched and unpinched alone and in combination with four different rates (3.9, 7.8, 11.7, and 23.4 mL⋅L−1) of Atrimmec. Pinching reduced plant height, as did unpinched + 11.7 mL⋅L−1 and unpinched + 11.7 mL⋅L−1 Atrimmec. Neither pinching nor Atrimmec had any effect on plant width, stem caliper, or shoot dry weight. Atrimmec did not increase the number of laterals in combination for pinched or unpinched treatments, but unpinched plants generally produced more laterals. Unpinched with any rate of Atrimmec resulted in tertiary shoots, which improved the visual appearance and quality.
Edina Pászti Mendelné and Ákos Mendel
Robert Conway Hochmuth, Marina Burani-Arouca, and Charles Edward Barrett
Carrot (Daucus carota) production has increased in North Florida and South Georgia since 2015. Deep sandy soils, moderate winter climate, availability of irrigation water, and proximity to eastern markets are favorable for carrot production in the region. Nitrogen (N) is required for successful carrot production, and the current recommended N application rate in Florida is 196 kg·ha−1. The objective of this study was to verify the recommended N rate for the sandy soils of North Florida using current industry standard cultivars and practices. Carrot cultivars for the whole carrot fresh market, Choctaw and Maverick, and cultivars for the cut-and-peel market, Triton and Uppercut 25, were direct seeded on 102-cm-wide pressed bed tops on 29 Oct. 2016 and 2 Nov. 2017 in Live Oak, FL. Eight N application rates (56, 112, 168, 224, 280, 336, 392, and 448 kg·ha−1) were tested, and all N applications were placed on the bed top. N rates were split and timed to increase N use efficiency. Regression analyses were used to determine the optimal N rate for carrots in North Florida. A quadratic plateau regression for both seasons combined indicated 206 kg·ha−1 N was the optimal rate for carrots, with marketable yield of 71.3 Mg·ha−1, regardless of cultivar. All four cultivars attained acceptable yield including Uppercut 25, which exhibited significant foliage damage following freezing temperatures. This study resulted in updated information on best management practices for carrot production in Florida, especially nutrient stewardship.
Erin M.R. Clark, John M. Dole, and Jennifer Kalinowski
Six experiments were conducted using three cultivars to investigate the impact of water electrical conductivity (EC) and the addition of nutrients to vase solutions on postharvest quality of cut rose (Rosa hybrids) stems. Postharvest quality of cut ‘Freedom’ rose stems was evaluated using solutions containing either distilled water with sodium chloride (DW+NaCl) or DW+NaCl with the addition of a commercial floral preservative (holding solution containing carbohydrates and biocide) to generate a range of EC values (Expts. 1 and 2). The third experiment compared the effect of different EC levels from the salts NaCl, sodium sulfate (Na2SO4), and calcium chloride (CaCl2). The fourth experiment investigated EC’s impact on rose stems with the addition of two rose cultivars (Charlotte and Classy). When ‘Freedom’ stems were subjected to DW+NaCl, the longest vase life was achieved with 0.5 dS·m–1. The addition of holding solution not only extended vase life but also counteracted the negative effects of high EC with maximum vase life occurring at 1.0 dS·m–1. Furthermore, stems in the holding solution experienced significantly less bent neck and the flowers opened more fully than those in DW. Stems placed in DW with a holding solution also experienced more petal bluing, pigment loss, necrotic edges, and wilting than those held in DW alone. This effect was likely due to increased vase life. Salt solutions containing Na2SO4 and CaCl2 resulted in extended vase life at 1.0 dS·m–1, but increasing salt levels decreased overall vase life. As EC increased, regardless of salt type, water uptake also increased up to a maximum at 0.5 or 1.0 dS·m–1 and then continually declined. Maximum vase life was observed at 1.5 dS·m–1 for cut ‘Charlotte’ stems, and at 1.0 dS·m–1 for ‘Classy’ with the addition of a holding solution. Physiological effects were different based on cultivar, as observed with Charlotte and Freedom flowers that opened further and had less petal browning than Classy flowers. ‘Freedom’ had the greatest pigment loss, but this effect decreased with increasing EC. Further correlational analysis showed that in water-only solutions, initial and final EC accounted for 44% and 41% of the variation in vase life data, respectively, whereas initial pH accounted for 24% of variation. However, the presence of carbohydrates and biocides from the holding solution was found to have a greater effect on overall vase life compared with water pH or EC. Finally, in Expts. 5 and 6, cut ‘Freedom’ stems were subjected to DW solutions containing 0.1, 1, 10, or 100 mg·L–1 boron, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, or zinc. None of these solutions increased vase life. Conversely, 10 or 100 mg·L–1 boron and 100 mg·L–1 copper solutions reduced vase life. Finally, the addition of NaCl to a maximum of 0.83 dS·m–1 increased the vase life in all solutions. These analyses highlight the importance of water quality and its elemental constituents on the vase life of cut rose stems and that the use of a holding solution can overcome the negative effects of high EC water.
Killian Melsen, Mark van de Wouw, and Ryan Contreras
The promising possibilities of mutation breeding in ornamental plants have led to a great interest in effective mutagenic treatment protocols for various species. This review discusses mutagenic treatments of a large number of ornamental genera, the advantages and disadvantages of various techniques, and the possibilities of improving the associated protocols. A number of nontargeted mutagenesis methods are available, ranging from chemical treatment with alkylating agents to irradiation with X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron or heavy ion beams at various doses. These are all relatively inexpensive and have been proven to be effective mutagens in a large number of diverse species. Genetic engineering, however, remains mostly impractical for many ornamental breeding operations because of the high cost and lack of knowledge necessary to successfully transform and regenerate ornamental crops. Of the available nontargeted mutagens, irradiation with gamma rays is still the most popular. It provides high consistency compared with chemical mutagens, albeit at a seemingly lower mutagenic efficiency. Changes in the radiation dose rate may increase the efficiency, although chronic irradiation over a longer period causes fewer deleterious mutations than the commonly used acute irradiation protocols. Heavy ion beam irradiation may also provide highly consistent mutation induction at higher efficiencies because of the high particle energy associated with these treatments. There are also opportunities to improve chemical mutagenesis. Although the required knowledge of specific gene functions in many ornamentals is still lacking, combination mutagenesis with ethyl methanesulfontate with genetic screening in a process known as TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) may lead to a powerful mutation breeding tool in the future. Mutation breeding is still very useful, and many opportunities are available to improve the existing methods.
Eduardo Esteves, Gabriel Maltais-Landry, Flavia Zambon, Rhuanito Soranz Ferrarezi, and Davie M. Kadyampakeni
The bacterial disease Huanglongbing (HLB) has drastically reduced citrus production in Florida. Nutrients play an important role in plant defense mechanisms and new approaches to manage the disease with balanced nutrition are emerging. Nutrients like nitrogen (N), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) could extend the productive life of affected trees, although interactions among these nutrients in HLB-affected citrus trees are still unclear. A 2-year study was established in Florida to determine the response of HLB-affected trees to applications of N, Ca, and Mg. The study was conducted with ‘Valencia’ trees (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) on Swingle citrumelo (Citrus paradisi Macf. × Poncirus trifoliata L. Raf.) rootstock on a Candler sand. Applications of N at 168, 224 (recommended rate), and 280 kg⋅ha−1 N were used as the main plots. Split-plots consisted of a grower standard treatment receiving only basal Ca (51 kg⋅ha−1) and Mg (56 kg⋅ha−1); supplemental Ca (total Ca inputs: 96 kg⋅ha−1) only; supplemental Mg (total Mg inputs: 101 kg⋅ha−1) only; and supplemental Ca (total Ca inputs: 73.5 kg⋅ha−1) and Mg (total Mg inputs: 78.5 kg⋅ha−1). The following variables were measured: tree size, fruit yield, and juice quality. Although some differences in tree growth among treatments were statistically significant (e.g., greater canopy volume with Mg fertilization at 168 kg⋅ha−1 N), there was no clear and consistent effect of plant nutrition on these variables. Fruit yield was higher with Ca and Mg relative to the grower standard at the lowest N rate in 2020, and there were no other statistically significant differences among treatments. Juice acidity was significantly higher with Mg fertilization relative to other treatments in 2019. As N rates had no significant effect in this study, unlike secondary macronutrients, N rates could potentially be reduced to 168 kg N⋅ha−1 in HLB-affected citrus without affecting vegetative growth, fruit yield, and juice quality. However, this will require optimizing the supply of secondary macronutrients and all other nutrients to develop a balanced nutritional program. Ultimately, the effects of N, Ca, and Mg obtained in this 2-year study should be confirmed with longer-term studies conducted at multiple sites.