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Open access

Chunxian Chen and William R. Okie

Peach (Prunus persica) cultivars maintained at the U.S. Department of Agriculture program at Byron, GA, have never been characterized with any molecular markers. In this study, 20 microsatellite markers were used to genotype 112 cultivars and the data were analyzed to discern their population structure and phylogenetic relationships. STRUCTURE simulations revealed four K clusters and broad genetic admixture among the cultivars. Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) showed the cultivar groups from western, northeastern, and southeastern U.S. states were adjacent to each other except cultivars from Michigan (close to most southeastern state groups) and Florida (most distant from the other groups). Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that these cultivars had no obvious PCA partitioning boundaries. The intertwined distribution in both PCoA and PCA partitions suggested many of them were genetically closely related to each other largely because most shared same ancestral parentages. Most pairwise distance means within and between the cultivar groups were relatively low, suggesting close phylogenetic relations among those cultivars, as were demonstrated in the phylogenetic tree. Limiting factors and perspectives relevant to peach breeding are discussed.

Open access

Stephanie Rossi and Bingru Huang

Heat stress symptoms in cool-season plants are characterized by loss of chlorophyll (Chl) and membrane stability, as well as oxidative damage. The objectives of this study were to determine whether foliar application of β-sitosterol, a naturally occurring plant metabolite, may promote heat tolerance by suppressing heat-induced leaf senescence as indicated by the maintenance of healthy turf quality (TQ), and Chl and membrane stability; and to determine its roles in regulating antioxidant metabolism in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera). ‘Penncross’ plants were exposed to heat stress (35/30 °C day/night) optimal temperature conditions (nonstressed control, 22/17 °C day/night) for a duration of 28 days in environment-controlled growth chambers. Plants were foliar-treated with β-sitosterol (400 µM) or water only (untreated control) before heat stress, and at 7-day intervals through 28 days of heat stress. Plants treated with β-sitosterol had significantly greater TQ and Chl content, and significantly less electrolyte leakage (EL) than untreated controls at 21 and 28 days of heat stress. Application of β-sitosterol reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) content significantly at 21 and 28 days of heat stress, and promoted the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) from 14 through 28 days of heat stress. β-Sitosterol effectively improved heat tolerance through suppression of leaf senescence in creeping bentgrass exposed to heat stress in association with the alleviation of membrane lipid peroxidation and activation of the enzymatic antioxidant system.

Open access

Ying Yang, Xian-Ge Hu, Bingsong Zheng, Yue Li, Tongli Wang, Anket Sharma, Huwei Yuan, and Jian-Feng Mao

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs (20–25 nucleotides) that regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally. However, identification and characterization of miRNAs remain limited for conifer species. In this study, we applied transcriptome-wide miRNAs sequencing to a conifer species Platycladus orientalis, which is highly adaptable to a wide range of environmental adversities, including drought, barren soil, and mild salinity. A total of 17,181,542 raw reads were obtained from the Illumina sequencing platform; 31 conserved and 91 novel miRNAs were identified, and their unique characteristics were further analyzed. Ten randomly selected miRNAs were validated by quantificational real-time polymerase chain reaction. Through miRNA target predictions based on psRNATarget, 2331 unique mRNAs were predicted to be targets of P. orientalis miRNAs that involved in 187 metabolic pathways in KEGG database. These targets included not only important transcription factors (e.g., class III homeodomain leucine zipper targeted by por-miR166d) but also indispensable nontranscriptional factor proteins (i.e., por-miR482a-3p regulated nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat protein). Interestingly, six miRNAs (por-miR16, -miR44, -miR60-5p, -miR69–3p, -miR166b-5p, and -miR395c) were found in adaptation-related pathways (e.g., drought), indicating their possible involved in this species’ stress-tolerance characteristics. The present study provided essential information for understanding the regulatory role of miRNAs in P. orientalis and sheds light on their possible use in tree improvement for stress tolerance.

Open access

Patience Seyram Akakpo, Moosa Mahmood Sedibe, Bello Zaid, Zenzile P. Khetsha, Mokgaputsiwa P. Theka-Kutumela, and Fhatuwani N. Mudau

Potassium (K) is an essential nutrient in plant metabolism, ionic balance, and stress resistance. In this study, the effects of K on agronomic attributes and on mineral and primary metabolite content in African potato were determined. K was administered hydroponically at four concentrations (4.00, 6.00, 8.00, and 10.00 meq·L−1) using Steiner’s universal nutrient solution. Chlorophyll content (CHL), leaf area (LA), fresh corm mass (FCM), number of roots (NR), root fresh weight (RFM), and root dry mass (RDM) were measured 18, 32, and 40 weeks after transplanting. Mineral analysis data were collected at 18 weeks, and primary metabolite data were collected at 32 weeks. Significant effects of K were observed after 18 weeks, and all test concentrations had a positive effect on yield. Calcium and boron significantly accumulated in the corm at 4.00 meq·L−1 K. Alanine and malic acid were the only metabolites affected by K concentrations. More minerals accumulated in the corm at 4.00 meq·L−1 K, whereas at 10.00 meq·L−1 K, more minerals clustered in the leaf. K applied at 4.00 meq·L−1 is recommended when growing African potato using a nutrient solution to improve corm mineral and metabolite accumulation.

Open access

Amit Bhasin, Joan Davenport, Scott Lukas, Qianwen Lu, Gwen Hoheisel, and Lisa W. DeVetter

Bloom to fruit maturity is a period of rapid growth and nitrogen (N) uptake in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). Sufficient plant-available N is critical during this time, and growers often accomplish this through fertilizer applications from bloom through fruit development. For organic production in northern climates like Washington State, postharvest applications of N fertilizer are not recommended for northern highbush blueberry because they may stimulate excessive vegetative growth, reduce floral bud set, and increase the risk of winter injury through delayed acclimation. However, early fruiting cultivars with the potential for an extended growing season after harvest may benefit from postharvest N applications because the additional N may promote shoot and root growth that could support fruit production in future years while still allowing plants to form floral buds and acclimate to winter temperatures. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential impacts of postharvest organic N fertilizer applications on ‘Duke’, an early fruiting northern highbush blueberry cultivar. Specific objectives were to determine the effects of postharvest organic N fertilizer application on plant growth, yield, floral bud set, fruit quality, cold hardiness, tissue macronutrient concentrations, and select soil properties. Four treatments varying in the timing of N application were evaluated in a commercial ‘Duke’ field in eastern Washington using a single fertilizer rate of 130 kg⋅ha−1 N from 2018 to 2020. The organic fertilizer N source was a liquid fertilizer derived from digested plant materials. The experimental design was a randomized complete block design with four replications and treatments included the following: control (100% of N applied preharvest); 80/20 (80% preharvest, 20% postharvest); 70/30 (70% preharvest, 30% postharvest); and 60/40 (60% preharvest, 40% postharvest). Although the year influenced measured variables, including yield, floral bud set, fruit quality, tissue nutrients, and soil properties, few treatment effects were observed across the 3-year study. Cold hardiness was only impacted once (8 Feb. 2020), and floral buds were overall hardy to extreme minimum winter temperatures for the region. This project showed that applying postharvest organic N as a liquid fertilizer had no negative consequences on productivity metrics for an early fruiting blueberry cultivar grown in a region with an extended growing season, thus providing growers with more flexibility when timing their fertilizer applications. Results may differ for other fertilizer sources, and further monitoring of soil NO3-N accumulation should be conducted to gain a better understanding of its dynamics and the potential for risks.

Open access

William Reichert, Harna Patel, Christopher Mazzei, Chung-Heon Park, H. Rodolfo Juliani, and James E. Simon

Open access

Ryan J. Hill, David R. King, Richard Zollinger, and Marcelo L. Moretti

Three 2-year field studies were conducted to evaluate 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) as a suppressant of suckers in European hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.). Treatments were basal-directed applications of NAA at 5, 10, and 20 g·L−1 a.i. applied once per season, and two sequential applications of NAA 10 g·L−1 a.i., 28 days apart, compared with 2,4-D (3.8 g·L−1 acid equivalent), and a nontreated control. Treatments were applied early in spring and repeated the following year. Both NAA and 2,4-D delayed sucker growth by 1.2- to 3.0-fold compared with the nontreated control, and response varied with experimental site and year. Sequential treatments of NAA significantly reduced sucker height and fresh weight 120 days after treatment. NAA applied in sequential treatments increased tree trunk cross-sectional area and canopy volume in two of the three experimental sites. Yield of hazelnuts increased when suckers were removed with NAA or 2,4-D compared with nontreated. Results indicate that NAA is an effective option to control suckers in hazelnuts and can help reduce herbicide and labor in sucker control.

Open access

Renata Goossen and Kimberly A. Williams

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a well-known oxidizing agent often used as a remedy by consumers to treat algae and root decay from presumed root disease on interior plants, as well as to encourage root growth and health. To characterize the phytotoxic effects and define the safe concentration threshold for H2O2 use on ‘Vivaldi’ hybrid phalaenopsis orchid (hybrid Phalaenopsis), root systems were dipped for 3 minutes in 0%, 3%, 6%, or 12% H2O2 one time and observed in greenhouse conditions for the following 27 days. Root systems of each plant were assessed over time for percent visible root damage; ratings of root health on a scale of 1 to 5 points, with 5 points indicating “very healthy”; and final fresh and dry weights. To determine when symptoms manifested above the root zone, foliage and flower damage was evaluated over time by assessing percent visible foliage damage, ratings of foliage health, percent foliar wilt, flower/bud count, and final foliage and flower fresh and dry weights. Over the evaluation period, the root health rating of the ‘Vivaldi’ hybrid phalaenopsis orchids treated with 12% H2O2 decreased from 5 to 1.13, whereas those treated with 3% H2O2 only decreased from 5 to 4.13. H2O2 concentrations of 6% and 12% damaged root health permanently, whereas the 3% H2O2 concentration only caused minor damage to overall root health. However, algae were not killed at the 3% rate. Neither foliage nor flowers were seriously affected during the 3 weeks after application, but foliage wilt did result in the 6% and 12% treatments by week 4. As H2O2 concentration increased, fresh weights decreased in roots and leaves. Although a single 3% H2O2 root dip did not result in severe symptoms of phytotoxicity, the treatment’s long-term plant health effects are unknown. Because the 3% H2O2 root dip caused minor plant health setbacks and failed to subdue algae populations in the root zone, consumers should be wary of using H2O2 to improve orchid (Orchidaceae) root health and should instead focus on altering care and watering practices.

Open access

Lisa Tang, Garima Singh, Megan Dewdney, and Tripti Vashisth

Under Florida conditions, sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) affected by Huanglongbing {HLB [Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas)]} frequently exhibits irregular flowering patterns, including off-season flowering and prolonged bloom period. Such patterns can increase the opportunity for temporal and spatial proliferation of pathogens that infect flower petals, including the fungal causal agent for postbloom fruit drop (PFD) Colletotrichum acutatum J.H. Simmonds. For the development of strategies to manipulate flowering, the effects of floral inhibitor gibberellic acid (GA3) sprayed monthly at full- and half-strength rates (49 and 25 g·ha−1, or 33 and 17 mg·L−1, respectively) with different regimens, starting from September and ending in November, December, or January, on the pattern of spring bloom were evaluated in field-grown HLB-affected ‘Valencia’ sweet orange at two locations in subsequent February through April for two separate years in this study. To further examine whether GA3 effects on flowering patterns vary in different cultivars, early-maturing ‘Navel’ sweet orange trees receiving no GA3 or full-strength GA3 monthly in September through January were included. Overall, for ‘Valencia’ sweet orange, monthly applications of GA3 at 49 g·ha−1 from September to December not only minimized the incidence of scattered emergence of flower buds and open flowers before the major bloom but also shortened the duration of flowering, compared with the untreated control trees. In addition, exogenous GA3 led to decreased leaf flowering locus t (FT) expression starting in December, as well as reduced expression of its downstream flower genes in buds during later months. When applied monthly from September through January at 49 g·ha−1, similar influences of exogenous GA3 on repressing flower bud formation and compressing bloom period were observed in ‘Navel’ sweet orange. These results suggest that by effectively manipulating flowering in HLB-affected sweet orange trees under the Florida climate conditions, exogenous GA3 may be used to reduce early sporadic flowering and thereby shorten the window of C. acutatum infection that causes loss in fruit production.