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Open access

David M. Olszyk, Tamotsu Shiroyama, Jeffrey M. Novak, Keri B. Cantrell, Gilbert Sigua, Donald W. Watts and Mark G. Johnson

Essential nutrient concentrations in crops can affect human health. While biochar has the potential as a soil amendment to improve crop yields, it may also affect the concentrations of nutrients such as Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, and Zn in edible portions of crops. To better characterize effects of biochar on important human nutrients in food crops, we evaluated the effects of biochar on lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Black-Seeded Simpson) leaf and carrot [Daucus carota subsp. sativus (Hoffm.) Schübl. cv. Tendersweet] developing taproot nutrients. Plants were grown in pots in a greenhouse using sandy loam (Coxville, fine, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Paleaquults) and loamy sand (Norfolk, fine-loamy, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Kandiudults,) series soils, amended with biochar produced from four feedstocks: pine chips (PC), poultry litter (PL), swine solids (SS), and switchgrass (SG); and two blends of PC plus PL [PC/PL, 50%/50% (55) and 80%/20% (82) by weight]. Biochar was produced at 350, 500, and 700 °C from each feedstock. Lettuce leaf and carrot taproot total nutrient concentrations were determined by inductively coupled plasma analysis. Biochar (especially at least in part manure-based, i.e., PL, SS, 55, and 82 at nearly all temperatures) primarily decreased nutrient concentrations in lettuce leaves, with Ca, Mg, and Zn affected most. Carrot taproot nutrient concentrations also deceased, but to a lesser extent. Some biochars increased leaf or taproot nutrient concentrations, especially K. This study indicated that biochar can both decrease and increase leaf and taproot nutrient concentrations important for human health. Thus, potential effects on nutrients in plants should be carefully considered when biochar is used as a soil amendment with vegetable crops.

Open access

Xuewen Gong, Shunsheng Wang, Cundong Xu, Hao Zhang and Jiankun Ge

Studies on dual crop coefficient method in a greenhouse require accurate values of reference evapotranspiration (ETo). This study was conducted in a solar greenhouse at the experimental station of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences during 2015 and 2016. An automatic weather station was installed in the center of the same greenhouse to record weather parameters at 30-minute intervals. Five ETo models (Penman-Monteith, Penman, radiation, pan evaporation, and Priestley-Taylor) were employed, and their performance was evaluated using the dual crop coefficient method. The basal crop coefficient K cb and soil evaporation coefficient K e were adjusted according to the surrounding climate inside the greenhouse. Crop evapotranspiration (ETc) was continuously measured using sap flow system combined with microlysimeter in 2015 and weighing lysimeters in 2016. Daily ETo was simulated from the five models and compared with the measurements. Results show that the adjusted K cb values were 0.15, 0.94, and 0.65 in 2015 and 0.15, 1.02, and 0.70 in 2016 at initial, midseason, and late-season, respectively. The K e varies between 0.10 and 0.45 during the whole growth period. The ETc was ≈345 mm for drip-irrigated tomato in solar greenhouse at the whole growth stage. The radiation and pan evaporation models tend to overestimate ETo values. Results of the Penman-Monteith, Penman, and Priestley-Taylor models show comparatively good performance in estimating ETo. Considering the robustness and simplicity, the Priestley-Taylor was recommended as the first choice to estimate ETo of tomato grown in a solar greenhouse. This work can help farmers to optimize the irrigation scheduling based on an ETo model for solar greenhouse vegetables in northern China.

Open access

En-chao Liu, Li-fang Niu, Yang Yi, Li-mei Wang, You-wei Ai, Yun Zhao, Hong-xun Wang and Ting Min

Ethylene response factor (ERF) genes have been characterized in numerous plants, where they are associated with responses to biotic and abiotic stress. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is an effective treatment to prevent lotus root browning. However, the possible relationship between ERF transcription factors and lotus root browning under MAP remains unexplored. In this study, the effects of phenol, phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), polyphenol oxidase (PPO), and peroxidase (POD) enzyme activities; and PPO, PAL, POD, and ERF gene expression on fresh-cut lotus root browning were studied with MAP. The expression pattern of ERF2/5 correlated highly with the degree of browning. It is suggested that NnERF2/5 can be used as an important candidate gene for the regulation of fresh-cut lotus root browning under MAP, and the correlation of each gene should be studied further.

Open access

Darren J. Hayes and Bryan J. Peterson

Several species of honeysuckle from Europe and Asia have proved to be invasive in North America, with substantial impacts on native ecosystems. Although shrubby honeysuckles of Eurasian origin have appeared on banned plant lists in North America and other parts of the world, cultivars of the edible blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L.) derived from Eurasian germplasm and marketed as honeyberry, Haskap, or sweetberry honeysuckle have recently been widely developed for agricultural use in North America, with little scrutiny of invasive potential in North America despite its documented invasion of the Scandinavian Peninsula in northern Europe. To gain insight into differences in growth strategies among congeners, we compared the growth of Eurasian L. caerulea with that of a closely related congener in North America [Lonicera villosa (Michx.) R. & S.] and two known invasive congeners from Eurasia (Lonicera tatarica L. and Lonicera xylosteum L.). In Expt. 1, L. villosa, L. caerulea, and L. tatarica were grown in #1 nursery containers after top-dressing with Osmocote Pro 17–5–11 4-month controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) at rates of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 g CRF/container. Across all fertilizer treatments, L. caerulea outperformed L. villosa by a factor of two for root and shoot dry weights, although L. tatarica produced more growth than either of the others and was more responsive to increasing CRF. However, L. caerulea more strongly resembled L. tatarica in form, producing leaves of greater individual size and producing significantly taller primary stems than L. villosa, evidence for prioritization of competitive growth. In Expt. 2, plants of the same taxa plus L. xylosteum were grown communally in #20 nursery containers, followed by a period in which each container was subjected to regular irrigation, withheld irrigation (dry treatment), or inundation (flooded treatment). Plant growth differed substantially among taxa, but moisture treatments did not affect growth significantly. As in Expt. 1, plants of L. caerulea in Expt. 2 produced greater dry biomass than plants of L. villosa and resembled the invasive Eurasian honeysuckles more strongly in size and form. We conclude Eurasian L. caerulea is distinct in growth rate and morphology from North American L. villosa. In light of these findings, the ecology and competitive ability of Eurasian L. caerulea may not be well predicted by ecological observations of its closely related North American congener.

Open access

William G. Hembree, Thomas G. Ranney, Nathan P. Lynch and Brian E. Jackson

The genus Deutzia, in the Hydrangeaceae family, includes ≈60 species that range in ploidy from diploid (2x) to tetradecaploid (14x). There have been extensive breeding efforts for Deutzia, but this has been limited to a few parental species. Although there have been numerous studies of the cytogenetics of some species of Deutzia, the ploidy level of many species remains unknown, and there are few cytogenetic data available for Deutzia hybrids and cultivars. The purpose of this study was to validate the identification and determine the genome sizes and ploidy of a diverse collection of Deutzia species and hybrids using cytology and flow cytometry. Accessions were identified using the most current taxonomic key and voucher specimens were deposited for each at the North Carolina State University herbarium. Corrected and updated species names are provided for all cultivars and accessions studied. Traditional cytology was performed for roots of representative taxa to calibrate the genome size with the ploidy level. The genome size and estimated ploidy were determined for 43 accessions using flow cytometry. Ploidy levels were reported for the first time for three species of Deutzia including D. calycosa (2n = 4x = 52), D. paniculata (2n = 4x = 52), and D. glauca (2n = 12x = 156). The base and monoploid genome size (1Cx) were somewhat variable and ranged from 1.20 to 2.05 pg. No anisoploid hybrids were documented, suggesting the presence of an interploid block. The information produced from this study are beneficial to future curation, research, development, and improvement of this genus with corrected nomenclature and clone-specific data regarding cytogenetics.

Open access

Sara Andrea Moran-Duran, Robert Paul Flynn, Richard Heerema and Dawn VanLeeuwen

In recent years, nickel (Ni) deficiency symptoms has been observed in commercial pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch.] orchards in New Mexico. Nickel deficiency can cause a reduction in lignin formation, which could affect the risk for breakage on pecan tree shoots. Ni deficiency might furthermore disrupt ureide catabolism in pecan and, therefore, could negatively affect nitrogen (N) nutrition in the plant. The objective of this study was to identify the effects of Ni and N fertilizer applications, at two rates, on net photosynthesis (Pn), leaf greenness (SPAD), and branch lignin concentration in New Mexico’s nonbearing pecan trees. Sixty trees for year 2012 (Pawnee and Western cultivars) and 40 trees for year 2013 (Pawnee cultivar) were used at two New Mexico locations (Artesia and Las Cruces) to evaluate the effects of Ni and N on tree measures. Treatments were as follows: (1) High N plus Ni (+Ni); (2) Low N no Ni (−Ni); (3) High N −Ni; and (4) Low N +Ni. In 2012 and 2013, there was an increase in leaf greenness for each location and cultivar (tree group) through time (June to September). Photosynthesis measures in 2012 differed between tree group, time in the season, and N and Ni treatments. In 2013, Pn was influenced by tree group and time (P < 0.0001), but N and Ni interaction did not present a significant effect related to Ni benefits. Photosynthesis varied over time in 2012 and 2013, with an inconsistent pattern. In this study, Ni application at the high N rate had a negative effect on ‘Pawnee’ Pn early in the season at the Artesia site, but this application had a positive effect for ‘Western’ from Artesia at the low N level, also early in the season. Lignin content varied between tree groups only. The application of N and Ni did not affect lignin in pecan shoots. The results show an inconsistent pattern regarding the benefits of Ni on nonbearing pecan orchards for leaf greenness, Pn, and lignin content during the 2-year study. Future studies on Ni should focus on pecan trees exhibiting leaf Ni deficiency symptoms or on soils with less than 0.14 mg·kg−1 of DTPA extractable Ni, as well as the long-term effect of Ni on pecan growth and development to optimize the addition of Ni into an efficient fertilization program.

Open access

Huanfang Liu, Chelsea D. Specht, Tong Zhao and Jingping Liao

The morphological anatomy of leaf and rhizome was studied at different developmental stages in Zingiber officinale Roscoe using both light and electron microscopy, with an emphasis on characterizing secretory structures. The results show that the leaf comprises epidermal cells, mesophyll cells, and vascular bundles. Oil and crystal cells are scattered throughout the parenchyma, and some are within or in close contact to the vascular bundle sheath. The rhizome consists of epidermis, cortex, and stele. The pericycle of the rhizome remains meristematic and produces tissues centripetally, whereas the endodermis has no meristematic activity. Starch grains vary in shape from round to oval and vary in size from small to large throughout rhizome development. Oil cells and cavities are scattered and cavities are of lysigenous origin. When mature, the starch grains decrease in abundance while an increasing number of oil cells and cavities are formed. This anatomic characterization provides a theory foundation for medicinal exploitation and utilization of Z. officinale Roscoe.

Open access

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

Lilacs (Syringa sp.) have been used as ornamental plants since the mid-16th century and remain important in modern gardens due to their attractive and fragrant flowers. However, a short flowering season is a critical drawback for their ornamental value. Breeders have identified remontancy (reblooming) in dwarf lilac (Syringa pubescens), and have tried to introgress this trait into related species by interspecific hybridization. Molecular tools for lilac breeding are limited because of the shortage of genome sequence knowledge and currently no molecular markers are available to use in breeding for remontancy. In this study, an F1 population from crossing Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ × S. pubescens ‘Penda’ Bloomerang® Purple was created and subjected to genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) analysis and phenotyped for remontancy. Plants were categorized as remontant, semi-remontant, and nonremontant based on the relative quantity of inflorescences during the second flush of flowers. A total of 20,730 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers from GBS were used in marker-trait association to find remontant-specific marker(s) without marker position information. Two SNP markers, TP70580 (A locus) and TP82604 (B locus), were correlated with remontancy. The two loci showed a partial epistasis and additive interaction effects on the level of remontancy. Accumulation of recessive alleles at the two loci was positively correlated with increased reblooming. For example, 87% of aabb plants were remontant, and only 9% were nonremontant. In contrast, 100% of AaBB plants were nonremontant. These two SNP markers associated with remontancy will be useful in developing markers for future breeding and demonstrate the feasibility of developing markers for breeding woody ornamental taxa that lack a reference genome or extensive DNA sequence information.

Open access

Gerardo H. Nunez

Hands-on activities enhance learning and increase student satisfaction in horticulture courses. Nevertheless, hands-on activities can have widely different impacts on student learning. To achieve and maintain educational quality, instructors need to evaluate and improve activities. This research used text mining and sentiment analysis to gauge student sentiments about hands-on activities in a protected agriculture course. Students participated in five hands-on activities and submitted short reflective essays about them. Essay texts were separated into single-word (unigram) or three-word (trigram) objects. Unigrams were compared with general-use emotion lexica to extract student sentiments from the texts. Trigrams were used to assess essay content. All activities elicited positive sentiments among students. Trust, anticipation, and joy were the most prominent emotions identified. The activity focused on freeze protection was preferred over the other activities. Although other activities were also well received, they should be refined for future offerings. The presented method could be used to assess hands-on activities, leading to continuous improvement and successful implementation of experiential learning in horticulture courses.

Open access

Julie H. Campbell and Victoria H. Wallace

Concern over the use of pesticides in public areas, such as schools, daycare centers, and parks, has prompted some state and local governments to severely restrict or ban pesticides in these locations. Connecticut currently has bans for daycare centers, school grounds with kindergarten through eighth grade classes, and playgrounds in municipal parks. This study was designed to understand general public awareness of these bans and the public sentiment for these additional bans. An online survey was conducted in late 2016 asking Connecticut residents about their levels of awareness of the current pesticide bans, and whether they supported the current ban or would support additional bans. Demographics and other individual characteristics/perceptions are used to explain whether a respondent knows there is a pesticide ban and if the respondent thinks there should be a pesticide ban. Only 7% of the respondents could correctly identify where pesticide bans are currently in place, with most respondents being unsure (74%) if a ban was, in fact, in place. No respondents correctly identified the location of the ban without also identifying an incorrect location as well. A large percentage of respondents indicated the state should have a pesticide ban, with those respondents supporting a ban across all locations listed. Pesticide bans on school grounds and athletic fields from kindergarten to 12th grade were strongly supported, with scores ranging from 85.9 to 86.6 on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing extreme support for pesticide bans. The results indicate that general awareness of the current pesticide ban, as well as knowledge of where current bans are in place, is low. Most respondents support a statewide ban that exceeds current Connecticut law.