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Geoffrey Weaver and Marc W. van Iersel

Plant light use efficiency decreases as light intensity is increased, and a better understanding of crop-specific light responses can contribute to the development of more energy-efficient supplemental lighting control strategies for greenhouses. In this study, diurnal chlorophyll fluorescence monitoring was used to characterize the photochemical responses of ‘Green Towers’ lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) to photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and daily light integral (DLI) in a greenhouse during a production cycle. Plants were monitored continuously for 35 days, with chlorophyll fluorescence measurements collected once every 15 minutes. Quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII) decreased exponentially with PPFD, whereas electron transport rate (ETR) increased asymptotically to 121 µmol·m–2·s–1. Daily photochemical integral (DPI) is defined as the integral of ETR over a 24-hour period; DPI increased asymptotically to 3.29 mol·m–2·d–1 with increasing DLI. No effects of plant age or prior day’s DLI and a negligible effect of PPFDs 15 or 30 minutes before measurements within days were observed. Simulations were conducted using the regression equation of ETR as a function of PPFD {ETR = 121[1 – exp(–0.00277PPFD)]} to illustrate methods of increasing photochemical light use efficiency for improved supplemental lighting control strategies. For a given DLI, DPI can be increased by providing light at lower PPFDs for a longer period of time, and can be maximized by providing light with a uniform PPFD throughout the entire photoperiod. Similarly, the DLI required to achieve a given DPI is reduced using these same methods.

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Molly Felts, Renee T. Threlfall and Margaret L. Worthington

Understanding how human perception is related to physicochemical attributes strengthens identification of ripeness and marketability parameters for peaches and nectarines [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch]. Six peach and nectarine cultivars (Amoore Sweet, Bowden, Effie, Loring, Souvenirs, and White River) and three advanced breeding selections (A-827, A-850, and A-865) were harvested from trees grown at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Fruit Breeding Program in Clarksville, AR. Physical and chemical characteristics of the genotypes at harvest were as follows: fruit weight of 134.4 to 330.2 g, firmness of 7.8 to 35.8 N, soluble solids of 7.5% to 14.7%, pH of 3.3 to 4.8, titratable acidity of 0.2% to 1.1%, total sugars of 1.7 to 10.4 g/100 g, and total organic acids of 0.1 to 0.9 g/100 g. Overall, A-865 had the lowest fruit weight (134.0 g) and pH (3.3), and the highest firmness (35.8 N), soluble solids (14.7%), titratable acidity (1.1%), total sugars (10.4 g/100 g), and total organic acids (0.8 g/100 g). ‘White River’ had the largest fruit (330.2 g) and pit (11.06 g). A-850 (63.6) had the highest soluble solids/titratable acidity ratio, and ‘Bowden’ (12.7) had the lowest. A trained descriptive sensory panel (n = 10) was used to create a lexicon for Arkansas-grown fresh-market peaches and nectarines. The panel evaluated the fruit for aroma (n = 4), external appearance (n = 8), internal appearance and pit attributes (n = 6), basic tastes (n = 3), aromatics while eating fruit (n = 5), feeling factors (n = 2), and texture (n = 6). Principal component analysis explained 63.4% of the data variance attributed to texture and acidity. Of all of the physicochemical attributes, firmness had the most significant correlations with the descriptive sensory attributes, followed by fruit weight. Firmness was negatively correlated (r = −0.70 to 0.81) to fruit size, fuzziness, amount of bruises on the flesh, pit size, and moisture release, and positively correlated (r = 0.68–0.84) to sourness, green/unripe aromatics, flesh hardness, flesh crispness, and fibrousness between the teeth. Fruit weight was positively correlated (r = 0.67–0.75) to fruit and pit size, overripe aromatics, and moisture release. Significant correlations between descriptive sensory appearance, basic tastes, aromatics, and texture attributes with physicochemical attributes provide an indication of ripeness and marketability parameters for peaches and nectarines. These descriptive attributes are quality factors that impact consumer purchases and perception of fresh-market peaches and nectarines.

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Cui-ping Hua, Zhong-kui Xie, Zhi-jiang Wu, Yu-bao Zhang, Zhi-hong Guo, Yang Qiu, Le Wang and Ya-jun Wang

The autotoxicity of root exudates and the change of rhizosphere soil microbes are two important factors that affect the quality and yield of Lanzhou lily (Lilium davidii var. unicolor). Phthalic acid (PA) is a major autotoxin of the root exudates in Lanzhou lily. In this study, we treated plants with different concentrations of PA from the Lanzhou lily root exudates and then analyzed the effects of autotoxins on fresh weight, shoot height, root length, and Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity in root. The diversity of soil fungi in Lanzhou lily soil was analyzed using MiSeq. The results showed that PA induced oxidative stress and oxidative damage of Lanzhou lily roots, improved the level of the membrane lipid peroxidation, reduced the content of antioxidant defense enzyme activity and the nonenzymatic antioxidant, and eventually inhibited the growth of the Lanzhou lily. We found that continuous cropping of Lanzhou lily resulted in an increase in fungal pathogens, such as Fusarium oxysporum in the soil, and reduced the size of plant-beneficial bacteria populations. The results in this study indicate that continuous cropping would damage the regular growth of Lanzhou lily.

Open access

Uttara C. Samarakoon and James E. Faust

Vegetatively propagated unrooted cuttings typically are grown in equatorial locations and shipped via airfreight to propagators located in temperate climates. Cutting quality, defined as the resistance to external forces, such as physical damage and pathogen infection, impacts postharvest durability during shipping and propagation. During our previous studies, foliar application of calcium (Ca) in the form of Ca chloride was effective at increasing leaf mechanical strength of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum). Calcium chloride applied at ≥800 mg·L−1 Ca caused phytotoxicity symptoms in poinsettia; therefore, in the current work, we investigated the use of chelated Ca by providing Ca at 40, 80, or 160 mg·L−1 and salicylic acid (SA) at 150 or 300 mg·L−1 to increase the mechanical strength of poinsettia leaves. Mechanical strength of leaves was assessed using a force-displacement graph generated from a texture analyzer using a ball probe to penetrate a unit area of a clamped leaf. The peak force to fracture the leaf and work-of-penetration, defined as the area under the force-displacement curve, were used as indicators of mechanical strength. Calcium concentration in the leaves increased by 27% with increased application of Ca from 0 to 160 mg·L−1. Peak force was 26% greater in treatments with Ca at 80 or 160 mg·L−1 compared with the untreated control. Work-of-penetration was 24% and 29% greater for treatments with Ca at 80 and 160 mg·L−1, respectively, compared with the control. Foliar application of SA did not affect leaf mechanical strength. Chelated Ca applied at 160 mg·L−1 Ca caused visual phytotoxicity symptoms; thus, applications of 80 mg·L−1 Ca are recommended to improve resistance to physical damage for poinsettia leaves.

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Mengzi Zhang and Erik S. Runkle

Manipulating light quality is a potential alternative method of regulating plant height in the commercial production of ornamental crops. In particular, end-of-day (EOD) lighting with a high red (R; 600–700 nm) to far-red (FR; 700–800 nm) ratio (R:FR) can suppress extension growth, whereas a low R:FR can promote it. We investigated the effects of the R:FR and duration of EOD lighting in regulating extension growth and flowering of two poinsettia cultivars, White Glitter and Marble Star. Plants were grown at 20 °C under 9-hour days with or without EOD lighting provided by two types of light-emitting diode bulbs: R+white+FR (subsequently referred to as R+FR) and FR only. The R:FR ratios were 0.73 and 0.04, respectively, and the photon flux density between 400 and 800 nm was adjusted to 2 to 3 μmol·m−2·s–1 at plant canopy. The six EOD lighting treatments were R+FR or FR for 2 or 4 hours, 2 hours of R+FR followed by 2 hours of FR, and 4 hours of R+FR followed by 2 hours of FR. We also investigated the impact of a 4-hour moderate-intensity (13 μmol·m−2·s–1) EOD FR treatment in the second replication. EOD lighting generally increased poinsettia extension growth, with the greatest promotion under the longest lighting periods. There were no differences in days to first bract color and days to anthesis when the 9-hour day was extended by 2 hours, but flowering was delayed under 4- or 6-hour EOD treatments, except for the 2-hour R+FR + 2-hour FR and 4-hour FR treatments. Four hours of moderate-intensity EOD FR greatly promoted extension growth and delayed or prevented bract coloration in both cultivars. We conclude that EOD lighting promotes extension growth of poinsettia, and specifically, EOD FR at a low intensity (2–3 μmol·m−2·s–1) is not perceived as long-day signal, whereas a higher intensity (13 μmol·m−2·s–1) of FR delays flowering.

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Shugang Zhao, Jiamin Niu, Linying Yun, Kai Liu, Shuang Wang, Jing Wen, Hongxia Wang and ZhiHua Zhang

The role of the walnut (Juglans regia L.) shell in nut development, transportation, cleaning, and storage is often ignored. The shell suture seal and thickness are directly associated with kernel characteristics. In the present study, shell differentiation and microstructure were observed with an optical microscope using paraffin-sectioning and cryosectioning. The results showed that the parenchymal cells of the endocarp began to differentiate into sclerenchymal cells from 49 d after flowering (DAF), and the entire process continued until fruit maturation. The mature shell consists of three parts, including the sclereid layer (L1), sclerenchymal cell layer (L2), and shrunken cell layer (L3), from the outside to the inside. The shell thickness, suture seal grade, and mechanical strength were evaluated, as well as the lignin, cellulose, and phenolic compounds of the shell. Suture seal grade was positively correlated with lignin content, shell thickness, and L1 thickness and negatively correlated with shell cell diameter. Similarly, the mechanical strength of the shell was positively correlated with lignin content and L1 thickness. ‘Qingxing’ fruits were subjected to two treatments, namely, 30% shading and 70% shading, from 10 d after anthesis to maturity, with no shading used as control. After harvesting in September, nutshell sections showed thinner shells, with decreased contents of lignin and polyphenols, obtained under shaded conditions, and two of the three parts of the shell changed dramatically. The thinning of L1 and thickening of L3 eventually led to a thinner shell. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship among the shell structure, cellular components, and physical properties and provide a theoretical basis for cultivar breeding, rational planting density, and regulation of shell development.

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Yuee Tian, Zhiping Che, Di Sun, Yuanyuan Yang, Xiaomin Lin, Shengming Liu, Xiaoyu Liu and Jie Gao

Tree peonies are valuable ornamental plants and are widely cultivated in China and many other countries. Gray mold caused by Botrytis cinerea is an increasingly severe disease in Luoyang of China and seriously affects the ornamental value of tree peonies both in the open air and in greenhouses. However, the resistance of different tree peony cultivars to B. cinerea remains unknown. In this study, 15 tree peony cultivars belonging to three different flowering times were evaluated for resistance to B. cinerea by detached leaf assay measure. Results showed that the resistance of early-flowering peonies was stronger than that of later flowering peonies. Moreover, the correlation between flowering time and resistance of tree peonies was extremely significant (P < 0.01). The information obtained in this study can provide theoretical basis both for further exploring the resistance genes of tree peony to B. cinerea and for the prevention and controlling of the gray mold.

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Nihat Guner, Zvezdana Pesic-VanEsbroeck, Luis A. Rivera-Burgos and Todd C. Wehner

The Florida strain of Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV-FL) is one of the major viral diseases of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. Although some screening has been performed for ZYMV resistance in watermelon, the germplasm collection has not been screened extensively for resistance. The objectives of this study were to screen the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) watermelon germplasm collection for ZYMV resistance and to verify the disease rating for the most resistant and most susceptible accessions. We used a randomized complete block with four replications, 1613 PI accessions, and 41 cultivars. ‘Charleston Gray’ and ‘Crimson Sweet’ susceptible controls were used to verify that the ZYMV inoculum was virulent. After the last rating, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was performed to determine the presence of a virus in the plant tissue. The PI accessions with high resistance to ZYMV-FL that also exhibited resistance to other watermelon viruses were PI 595203, PI 386015, PI 386016, PI 386024, PI 386025, PI 386026, PI 244018, PI 244019, PI 485583, PI 494528, and PI 494529. The ZYMV-FL retest of the most resistant 46 PI accessions showed that there were some escapes. Sixteen resistant PI accessions had a rating of 3.0 or less for the average and maximum ratings: PI 595203, PI 537277, PI 560016, PI 386016, PI 386019, PI 485580, PI 494529, PI 595200, PI 494528, PI 595201, PI 386025, PI 494530, PI 386015, PI 386021, PI 386026, and PI 596662. Overall, PI 595203 had the highest resistance according to both the germplasm screening and the retest studies.

Open access

Dalia Taher, Mohamed Rakha, Srinivasan Ramasamy, Svein Solberg and Roland Schafleitner

The two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, is a serious global pest of eggplants and other vegetables in the tropics and subtropics. The scarlet (Solanum aethiopicum L.) and gboma (Solanum macrocarpon L.) are two cultivated eggplants indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, 120 accessions of S. aethiopicum and five accessions of S. macrocarpon from the World Vegetable Center’s genebank collection were evaluated for spider mite resistance based on leaf damage scores and trichome types and densities. The highest levels of resistance were detected in S. macrocarpon accessions VI050393 and VI050444. In addition, two accessions of S. aethiopicum, VI042749 and VI042753, were moderately resistant. All other S. aethiopicum accessions were susceptible or highly susceptible. Spider mite resistance was significantly associated with the presence of type VII glandular trichome, but nonglandular stellate trichomes were not associated with resistance. The resistant S. macrocarpon accessions can be directly used as resistant cultivars or in prebreeding programs aimed at breeding resistant lines of the most commonly cultivated eggplant (S. melogena).

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