Dibutylurea (DBU), a breakdown product of benomyl, may be partially responsible for the previously reported phytotoxicity of the fungicide Benlate DF. We quantified the effect of DBU on the growth of two popular bedding plant species, petunia (Petunia × hybrida) and impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook. f.). DBU reduced photosynthesis of both species, and its effect strongly depended on the amount of DBU applied. The effects of DBU were most apparent 2 to 4 days after treatment, at which time 1.20 g·m-2 (corresponding to 10% DBU in Benlate DF at maximum labeled drench rate) inhibited photosynthesis completely. DBU also decreased flower number and caused marginal necrosis. DBU effects were more pronounced in low relative humidity. Benlate DF containing 3.1% DBU and an equivalent amount of reagent grade DBU had similar effects on photosynthesis and petunia necrosis. Our results showed that DBU is responsible for at least part of the phytotoxic symptoms that can be caused by Benlate DF. However, other ingredients or breakdown products may also contribute to the phytotoxic symptoms of Benlate DF.
Marc W. van Iersel and Bruce Bugbee
Marc W. van Iersel and Bruce Bugbee
Benzimidazoles are effective and widely used fungicides, but they may be phytotoxic. We studied the effects of a single drench application of six benzimidazoles and one acetanilide fungicide on photosynthetic gas exchange, growth, development, and nutrient levels of four species of bedding plants in twenty growth-chamber and four greenhouse studies. Daily carbon gain and carbon-use efficiency were calculated from continuous crop gas-exchange measurements in the growth chambers. The maximum labeled rate of Benlate DF caused a 7- to 10-day decrease in net photosynthesis and daily carbon gain in transplants of all species. It also caused pronounced interveinal chlorosis and a 2- to 3-day delay in flowering. Growth of Benlate DF-treated plants was reduced more at high (90%) than at low (60% to 80%) relative humidity. Benlate DF had severe effects on 2-week-old petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) seedlings in plug flats, reducing photosynthesis 25% to 57%. Cleary's 3336 WP decreased photosynthesis in some trials. Benlate DF reduced photosynthesis within 24 hours, but 3336 WP effects did not become apparent until 1 week after the treatment. This suggests different modes of inhibition. 3336 WP also caused leaf-tip and marginal chlorosis in impatiens (Impatiens wallerana). Mertect 340-F was extremely phytotoxic but is not labeled for drench applications (it was included because of its chemical similarity to other benzimidazoles). The only benzimidazole fungicide that did not reduce photosynthesis was Derosal, but it caused slight interveinal chlorosis in some studies with petunia. Benlate DF and Derosal decreased leaf Ca levels. Subdue (or metalaxyl), an acetanilide fungicide, did not affect photosynthesis or cause any visual symptoms. Our results indicate that some benzimidazole fungicides can cause growth reductions and visual damage in bedding plants.
Lance V. Stott, Brent Black, and Bruce Bugbee
The Gisela® series of dwarfing rootstock are widely used because they enable high-density production, but they may be sensitive to drought. Drought tolerance may be associated with root-zone distribution and depth or with physiological adaptation to low water potential. Here we describe a novel technique for determining physiological tolerance to drought when root distribution is held constant. In two matching studies, we continuously measured transpiration of two groups of eight trees using a 16-container automated weighing lysimeter system in a greenhouse. With this system, Gisela® 3, 5, and 12 (G.3, G.5, and G.12) rootstocks were subjected to multiple, controlled drought cycles based on reductions in whole-tree transpiration. To provide an equivalent amount of stress for each tree, water was withheld until the daily transpiration rate had decreased to less than 250 g of water transpired per tree per day. Each tree was then drip-irrigated to bring the root-zone back to about field capacity. G.3 and G.12 rootstocks more rapidly recovered to maximum transpiration rates compared with G.5 (an indication of ability to resume normal growth after a drought). At harvest, G.3 and G.12 rootstocks also had greater leaf area and trunk diameter. Both transpiration data and harvest data indicate physiological differences among rootstocks. Because root-zone volume was constant, these differences are not associated with changes in root distribution or depth. These data indicate that G.5 is less adapted for regulated deficit irrigation strategies that include long irrigation intervals.
Bruce Bugbee and John W. White
The effect of root-zone temperature on young tomato plants (Ly copersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Heinz 1350) was evaluated in controlled environments using a recirculating solution culture system. Growth rates were measured at root-zone temperatures of 15°, 20°, 25°, and 30°C in a near optimum foliar environment. Optimum growth occurred at 25° to 30° during the first 4 weeks of growth and 20° to 25° during the 5th and 6th weeks. Growth was severely restricted at 15°. Four concentrations of gibberellic acid (GA3) and kinetin were added to the nutrient solution in a separate trial; root-zone temperature was maintained at 15° and 25°. Addition of 15 μm GA3 to solutions increased specific leaf area, total leaf area, and dry weight production of plants in both temperature treatments. GA3-induced growth stimulation was greater at 15° than at 25°. GA3 may promote growth by increasing leaf area, enhancing photosynthesis per unit leaf area, or both. Kinetin was not useful in promoting growth at either temperature.
Tracy A.O. Dougher and Bruce Bugbee
Blue light (320 to 496 nm) alters hypocotyl and stem elongation and leaf expansion in short-term, cell-level experiments, but histological effects of blue light in long-term studies of whole plants have not been described. We measured cell size and number in stems of soybean (Glycine max L.) and leaves of soybean and lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), at two blue light fractions. Short-term studies have shown that cell expansion in stems is rapidly inhibited when etiolated tissue is exposed to blue light. However, under long-term light exposure, an increase in the blue light fraction from <0.1% to 26% decreased internode length, specifically by inhibiting soybean cell division in stems. In contrast, an increase in blue light fraction from 6% to 26% reduced soybean leaf area by decreasing cell expansion. Surprisingly, lettuce leaf area increased with increasing blue light fraction (0% to 6%), which was attributed to a 3.1-fold increase in cell expansion and a 1.6-fold increase in cell division.
Noah J. Langenfeld and Bruce Bugbee
Dissolved oxygen (DO) is critical for aerobic life in aquatic environments. Rapid and accurate measurements of DO are necessary to quantify the rate of oxygen uptake and maintain optimum conditions in root zones. DO meters are available across a price range of USD99 to more than USD1000. We compared three meters for stability, response time, and accuracy in freshwater [tap water, 0 g⋅L–1 sodium chloride (NaCl)] and saline water (simulated seawater, 35 g⋅L–1 NaCl) across multiple temperatures. The Yellow Springs, Inc. 550A (YSI) and Sper Scientific 850048 (Sper) meters were stable across a range of water temperatures (12–38 °C) and salinity. The Smart Sensor Roeam AR8210 drifted ±50% within minutes after calibration and was not evaluated further. In freshwater, the YSI meter was within 4% and the Sper meter was within 5% of the theoretical value at 12 and 22 °C. Meters were less accurate at 38 °C. The accuracy in saline water was similar to freshwater. Across temperature and salinity, the response time averaged 10 s for the YSI meter and 15 s for the Sper meter. We conclude that the YSI and Sper meters can provide rapid, stable, and accurate measurements of DO.
Will Wheeler, Reagan Wytsalucy, Brent Black, Grant Cardon, and Bruce Bugbee
Native American tribes have been cultivating peaches [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] since their introduction to North America in the 1600s. In the American Southwest, peach orchards derived from centuries of seed selections have been maintained in relative isolation from commercial cultivars. These Native American peach selections may be better adapted to the arid climate of the Intermountain West. We compared physiological robustness during water stress of seedling peaches from a 60-year-old orchard maintained by Navajo farmers in southwestern Utah to the commercial peach rootstock Lovell. Six replicate trees of each rootstock were subjected to eight cycles of controlled drought on an automated lysimeter system, which monitored transpiration rate continuously. Trees were selected for uniform size and transpiration rate at the start of the study. During the drought cycles, individual trees were watered when their transpiration rate decreased to less than 250 g of water per day, ≈20% of their well-watered daily transpiration rate. After the first cycle of drought, the transpiration rate of the Navajo trees was greater than the Lovell trees, so they depleted their root-zone water more rapidly and experienced greater water stress. Despite greater stress, the Navajo selection had greater leaf area and dry weight at harvest. Because the root system was confined, these results indicate that the Navajo selection may have greater resilience when experiencing drought, independent of the depth and distribution of the root system. However, this study was not able to determine whether physiological resilience during drought was a result of canopy or root characteristics. Field studies are needed to determine whether root distribution or depth also contribute to drought tolerance in the Navajo selection.
Timothy J. Hudelson, F. Mitchell Westmoreland, and Bruce Bugbee
Ethylene is an essential plant hormone at low concentrations. Concentrations in the field rarely exceed 5 nmol⋅mol−1 (0.005 ppm), but it can accumulate as a gas in closed, indoor environments. These elevated levels can reduce growth and yield. Temperature alters ethylene synthesis and has the potential to influence ethylene sensitivity of crop plants in sealed greenhouses and indoor environments. We studied ethylene sensitivity of tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L. cv. MicroTina) using a unique, 12-chamber system. Ethylene levels of 0, 20, and 40 nmol⋅mol−1 (parts per billion) were maintained throughout the life cycle, at an air temperature of 22 or 28 °C. Yield of red fruit was three times higher at 22 than at 28 °C. There was a steady decrease in yield with increasing ethylene concentration, but vegetative growth was reduced less than 10% in any treatment. The highest ethylene concentration reduced yield to 11% of the control at 22 °C and to 4% of the control at 28 °C; the intermediate ethylene level reduced yield to 51% of the control at 22 °C and 37% at 28 °C. Regardless of temperature, filtering of ethylene in indoor environments to below 20 nmol⋅mol−1 is necessary to achieve normal fruit set and yield in tomato.
Charles Barnes, Theodore Tibbitts, John Sager, Gerald Deitzer, David Bubenheim, Gus Koerner, and Bruce Bugbee
Photosynthesis is fundamentally driven by photon flux rather than energy flux, but not all absorbed photons yield equal amounts of photosynthesis. Thus, two measures of photosynthetically active radiation have emerged: photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), which values all photons from 400 to 700 nm equally, and yield photon flux (YPF), which weights photons in the range from 360 to 760 nm according to plant photosynthetic response. We selected seven common radiation sources and measured YPF and PPF from each source with a spectroradiometer. We then compared these measurements with measurements from three quantum sensors designed to measure YPF, and from six quantum sensors designed to measure PPF. There were few differences among sensors within a group (usually <5%), but YPF values from sensors were consistently lower (3 % to 20 %) than YPF values calculated from spectroradiometric measurements. Quantum sensor measurements of PPF also were consistently lower than PPF values calculated from spectroradiometric measurements, but the differences were <7% for all sources, except red-light-emitting diodes. The sensors were most accurate for broad-band sources and least accurate for narrow-band sources. According to spectroradiometric measurement, YPF sensors were significantly less accurate (>9% difference) than PPF sensors under metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and low-pressure sodium lamps. Both sensor types were inaccurate (>18% error) under red-light-emitting diodes. Because both YPF and PPF sensors are imperfect integrators, and because spectroradiometers can measure photosynthetically active radiation much more accurately, researchers should consider developing calibration factors from spectroradiometric data for some specific radiation sources to improve the accuracy of integrating sensors.
Jonathan M. Frantz, Glen Ritchie, Nilton N. Cometti, Justin Robinson, and Bruce Bugbee
The productivity of lettuce in a combination of high light, high temperature, and elevated CO2 has not been commonly studied because rapid growth usually causes a calcium deficiency in meristems called tipburn, which greatly reduces quality and marketability. We eliminated tipburn by blowing air directly onto the meristem, which allowed us to increase the photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) to 1000 μmol·m-2·s-1 (57.6 mol·m-2·d-1); two to three times higher than normally used for lettuce. Eliminating tipburn doubled edible yield at the highest PPF level. In addition to high PPF, CO2 was elevated to 1200 μmol·m-2·mol-1, which increased the temperature optimum from 25 to 30 °C. The higher temperature increased leaf expansion rate, which improved radiation capture and more than doubled yield. Photosynthetic efficiency, measured as canopy quantum yield in a whole-plant gas exchange system, steadily increased up to the highest temperature of 32 °C in high CO2. The highest productivity was 19 g·m-2·d-1 of dry biomass (380 g·d-1 fresh mass) averaged over the 23 days the plants received light. Without the limitation of tipburn, the combination of high PPF, high temperature, and elevated CO2 resulted in a 4-fold increase in growth rate over productivity in conventional environments.