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Jareerat Chunthawodtiporn, Theresa Hill, Kevin Stoffel and Allen Van Deynze

Phytophthora capsici is one of the major pathogens found in pepper production, especially in bell pepper. Due to the high level of genetic diversity of the pathogen, bell pepper varieties with broad genetic resistance are essential for disease management. Criollo de Morelos – 334 (CM334), a landrace that has a high level of genetic resistance to P. capsici, has been used as the resistant source for P. capsici to generate a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population with the susceptible bell pepper cultivar Maor. From the resulting population, quantitative trait locus (QTL) models explaining resistance to each of four isolates of P. capsici were derived from QTL regions on three chromosomes using stepwiseqtl in R/qtl. A single region of chromosome 5 contained major QTL for resistance to each of the four isolates. Two isolate-specific QTL conferring resistance to isolates PWB53 and PWB106 were located on chromosomes 10 and 11, respectively. Both isolate-specific QTL had epistatic interactions with a major QTL on chromosome 5. Using the pepper reference genome and gene annotation, candidate genes for P. capsici resistance within 1.5-logarithm of odds (LOD) interval were identified. Based on functional annotations derived from Arabidopsis thaliana and solanaceous crop databases, multiple candidate genes related to resistance (R) gene complexes or to plant immune system were found under the QTL on all three chromosomes. A comparison of the locations of resistance QTL and previously identified horticultural QTL using the same population revealed tight linkage between resistance to P. capsici and a stem pubescence QTL o chromosome 10. Both candidate genes for P. capsici resistance and the linkages between resistance and horticultural traits could be applied for selection to broad resistance to P. capsici in bell pepper–breeding programs.

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Xingbo Wu and Lisa W. Alexander

Hydrangea macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangea) is one of the most important floral and nursery crops worldwide. However, breeding of new bigleaf hydrangea cultivars has been hampered by a long breeding cycle and lack of genetic resources. This study investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of 82 bigleaf hydrangea cultivars using single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) originated from genotyping-by-sequencing. A total of 5803 high-quality SNPs were discovered in a bigleaf hydrangea cultivar panel. A phylogenetic analysis and analysis of molecular variance based on discovered SNPs concluded the taxonomic classification of H. macrophylla ssp. serrata as a subspecies of H. macrophylla. Principal component analysis confirmed ‘Preziosa’ as a hybrid between H. macrophylla ssp. macrophylla and H. macrophylla ssp. serrata. In addition, the cultivar Lady in Red was also found to be a hybrid between the two subspecies. The population structure analysis identified three groups among the 82 cultivars. All H. macrophylla ssp. serrata cultivars belonged to one group, and two groups were revealed within H. macrophylla ssp. macrophylla. The separation within H. macrophylla ssp. macrophylla indicated a second gene pool due to breeding efforts that have targeted similar breeding goals for bigleaf hydrangea. The discovered SNPs and the phylogenetic results will facilitate further exploitation and understanding of phylogenetic relationships of bigleaf hydrangea and will serve as a reference for hydrangea breeding improvements.

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Zong-zhe Wan, Ya-nan Li, Xin-yu Qi, Dan Wang and Ling Wang

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Ryan C. Graebner, Hsuan Chen, Ryan N. Contreras, Kathleen G. Haynes and Vidyasagar Sathuvalli

Conventional wisdom regarding potato breeding indicates that a strong triploid block prevents the development of viable triploid seeds from crosses between tetraploid and diploid clones. However, in a recent set of crosses between elite tetraploid potatoes and an improved diploid hybrid population derived from group Stenotomum and group Phureja, 61.5% of the resulting clones were found to be triploid. If clones derived from one diploid parent suspected of producing a high frequency of unreduced gametes were excluded, then the frequency of triploid clones increased to 74.4%. Tubers of these triploids are generally intermediates of the two parental groups. Our findings indicate the possibility of using triploid potatoes in potato variety development programs and in genetic and genomic studies.

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Vincent Njung’e Michael, Yuqing Fu and Geoffrey Meru

Phytophthora crown rot, caused by Phytophthora capsici Leonian, is a devastating disease in commercial squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) production across the United States. Current management practices rely heavily on the use of chemical fungicides, but existence of fungicide-resistant pathogen populations has rendered many chemicals ineffective. Host resistance is the best strategy for managing this disease; however, no commercial cultivars resistant to the pathogen are currently available. Resistance to Phytophthora crown rot in PI 181761 (C. pepo) is an important genetic resource for squash breeders worldwide; however, the underlying genetic basis of resistance in PI 186761 that would allow designing of sound breeding strategies is currently unknown. The goal of the current study was to determine the inheritance of resistance in breeding line #186761-36P, a resistant selection of PI 181761, using phenotypic data from F1, F2, and backcross populations derived from a cross between #181761-36P and a susceptible acorn-type cultivar, Table Queen. The results indicated that resistance in #181761-36P is controlled by three dominant genes (R4, R5, and R6). Introgression of these genes into susceptible cultivar groups of C. pepo will provide an important tool in the integrated management of Phytophthora crown rot.

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Chase Jones-Baumgardt, David Llewellyn, Qinglu Ying and Youbin Zheng

Indoor farming is an increasingly popular approach for growing leafy vegetables, and under this production system, artificial light provides the sole source (SS) of radiation for photosynthesis and light signaling. With newer horticultural light-emitting diodes (LEDs), growers have the ability to manipulate the lighting environment to achieve specific production goals. However, there is limited research on LED lighting specific to microgreen production, and available research shows that there is variability in how microgreens respond to their lighting environment. The present study examined the effects of SS light intensity (LI) on growth, yield, and quality of kale (Brassica napus L. ‘Red Russian’), cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.), arugula (Eruca sativa L.), and mustard (Brassica juncea L. ‘Ruby Streaks’) microgreens grown in a walk-in growth chamber. SS LEDs were used to provide six target photosynthetic photon flux density density (PPFD) treatments: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 μmol·m−2·s−1 with a photon flux ratio of 15 blue: 85 red and a 16-hour photoperiod. As LI increased from 100 to 600 μmol·m−2· s−1, fresh weight (FW) increased by 0.59 kg·m−2 (36%), 0.70 kg·m−2 (56%), 0.71 kg·m−2 (76%), and 0.67 kg·m−2 (82%) for kale, cabbage, arugula, and mustard, respectively. Similarly, dry weight (DW) increased by 47 g·m−2 (65%), 45 g·m−2 (69%), 64 g·m−2 (122%), and 65 g·m−2 (145%) for kale, cabbage, arugula, and mustard, respectively, as LI increased from 100 to 600 μmol·m−2· s−1. Increasing LI decreased hypocotyl length and hue angle linearly in all genotypes. Saturation of cabbage and mustard decreased linearly by 18% and 36%, respectively, as LI increased from 100 to 600 μmol·m−2·s−1. Growers can use the results of this study to optimize SS LI for their production systems, genotypes, and production goals.

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Cain C. Hickey and Tony K. Wolf

Selective leaf removal in the proximity of grape clusters is a useful practice to manage fruit diseases and otherwise improve fruit composition. The current recommendation in the eastern United States is to create a fruit zone with one to two leaf layers and to focus removal on the “morning sun” side of the canopy. We evaluated a more intense and an earlier application of fruit-zone leaf thinning relative to current recommendations to determine whether additional benefits could be obtained without a penalty of impaired berry pigmentation or other ill effects of abundant grape exposure. Fruit secondary metabolites and berry temperature were monitored in two different field experiments conducted with ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ in the northern Shenandoah Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) of Virginia. One experiment evaluated the effects of no leaf removal, prebloom removal of four basal leaves per shoot, and prebloom removal of eight basal leaves per shoot. The other experiment evaluated the effects of no leaf removal and postfruit set removal of six basal leaves per shoot. On average, exposed grapes heated to ≥30 °C for a 126% longer period (53 hours) than shaded grapes in the postveraison period (from color development through harvest). However, postveraison grape temperatures did not remain above provisional, critical temperature thresholds of either 30 or 35 °C for as long as they did in studies conducted in sunnier, more arid climates. There were minimal differences in berry temperature between east- and west-exposed grapes in the northeast/southwest-oriented rows of the experimental vineyard. Regardless of implementation stage, leaf removal consistently increased total grape phenolics measured spectrophotometrically, and either increased or had no impact on anthocyanins relative to no leaf removal. Grape phenolics and anthocyanins were unaffected by canopy side. Berry total phenolics were increased and anthocyanins were at least maintained in fruit zones void of leaf layers—a canopy attribute that reduces bunch rot in humid regions.

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Michael F. Polozola II, Daniel E. Wells, J. Raymond Kessler, Wheeler G. Foshee, Amy N. Wright and Bryan S. Wilkins

An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of banded phosphorus (P) applications at differing rates in irrigated and nonirrigated pecan (Carya illinoinensis) plots on P movement within the soil, P uptake and movement within pecan trees, and the yield and quality of nuts. On 20 Mar. 2015, P applications of 0 kg·ha−1 (0×), 19.6 kg·ha−1 (1×), 39.2 kg·ha−1 (2×), and 78.5 kg·ha−1 (4×) were administered to bands of triple superphosphate to randomly selected trees in nonirrigated and irrigated plots of a ‘Desirable’ orchard bordered by ‘Elliot’ trees. When P was applied at the 2× and 4× rates, the total soil test P decreased linearly by 35% and 54%, respectively, in nonirrigated plots and by 41% and 59%, respectively, in irrigated plots over the course of the experiment. There was no change in soil test P over time at the 0× rate for either irrigation regimen; however, at the 1× rate, soil test P decreased 44% in the irrigated plot but did not change in the nonirrigated plot. The largest linear decrease of the soil test P from the start of the experiment to the end of the experiment occurred in the top 0 to 7.6 cm. In contrast, soil test P at a depth of 15.2 to 22.9 cm decreased linearly by 23% in the nonirrigated plot, but it did not decrease over time in the irrigated plot. Increasing the P application rate increased foliar P quadratically in the nonirrigated plot, but only the 4× application rate increased foliar P compared with the 0× control. In the irrigated plot, foliar P concentrations decreased linearly from 2015 to 2017, and foliar P concentrations were not influenced by the P application rate. No differences in pecan yield or quality were observed in either irrigated or nonirrigated plots. Overall, P banding may not be the most sustainable way to increase foliar concentrations of P quickly or to maintain concentrations of the nutrient in the long term.

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Nittaya Chookoh, Yi-Tien Chiu, Chen Chang, Wei-Hsin Hu and Ting-En Dai

A protocol for plant regeneration via direct induction of protocorm-like bodies (PLBs) from leaf segments of Tolumnia Snow Fairy was developed as a basis for mass production. Ten-month-old, in vitro–grown donor plantlets were obtained by inducing shoots from buds on the flower stalk. Leaf segments harvested from plantlets of different heights and from expanding leaves at different positions were compared, as were two BA concentrations with 0.5 mg·L−1 NAA. The greatest rate of PLB induction (16.7%) was observed when leaf segments taken from 1- to 2-cm height plants were cultured in Murashige and Skoog (MS) basal medium supplemented with 2 mg·L−1 BA and 0.5 mg·L−1 NAA after 16 weeks of culture. When using leaf explants, only inner, expanding leaves cultured on MS basal medium supplemented with 4 mg·L−1 BA and 0.5 mg·L−1 NAA resulted in PLB induction, at an average rate of 25.5 PLBs per explant. After 16 weeks of culture, histological and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observations revealed that PLBs originated from epidermal cells of leaf explants. PLBs of 1 to ≤2 mm in diameter continued to proliferate after 4 weeks of culture. These secondary PLBs could be produced from either whole PLBs or the upper side of PLBs. Finally, PLBs were regenerated into plantlets. After ≈14 months of culture, fully developed plants exhibiting well-developed roots and shoots were acclimatized. These plants grew well, with 1-year survival rates of nearly 73%, for plants originating as explants taken from 1- to 2-cm tall plants, and of 79%, for plants originating as explants taken from inner leaves. Some mature plants flowered 1 year after transplantation. This study presents a simple system that can provide a large number of PLBs for mass propagation in a short time that can be converted into plants and also used for the new cultivars of Tolumnia orchids.

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Huan Xiong, Ping Chen, Zhoujun Zhu, Ya Chen, Feng Zou and Deyi Yuan

Camellia oleifera is an important woody tree species in China that produces edible oil. Although sterile male C. oleifera plants play an important role in hybrid breeding, the possible cytological characteristics of pollen abortion remain unknown. To characterize the pollen abortion process, a genic petaloid-type sterile male C. oleifera ‘X1’ plant was investigated using a cytological method. The results showed that in male-fertile plants, the anthers were full and butterfly shaped, the pollen viability was as high as 97.5%, and the development of the tapetum and anther vascular bundles was normal. However, in male-sterile C. oleifera ‘X1’, petaloidy in the anther was observed, and the pollen vitality was as low as 4.5%. Pollen abortion in sterile C. oleifera ‘X1’ anthers occurred from the microspore stage to the mature pollen period. Further cytological analyses revealed an abnormally enlarged tapetum and retarded tapetum degeneration, suggesting that insufficient nutrients were provided for microspore development. Moreover, the anther vascular bundles displayed hyperplasia, and the pollen sac area became increasingly smaller, causing most anthers to be sterile and to have few pollen grains. Taken together, the results indicate that petaloid-type male sterility in C. oleifera may be attributed to abnormal development of the tapetum and anther vascular bundles. The findings clarify the pollen abortion period and the cytological characteristics of petaloid-type cytoplasmic male sterility in C. oleifera, and lay a solid foundation for the male sterile line in C. oleifera hybrid breeding.