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Nian Wang, Zhang Chang Qin, Jun-bo Yang, and Jing-li Zhang

Rhododendron delavayi Franch. is an important ornamental plant and often plays a role in natural hybridization with other sympatric species in Rhododendron subgenus Hymenanthes. Fifteen microsatellite loci were developed and characterized in this species. The average allele number of these microsatellites was four per locus, ranging from three to six. The ranges of expected (HE) and observed (HO) heterozygosities were 0.0365 to 0.7091 and 0.0263 to 0.9512, respectively. Cross-species amplification in R. agastum and R. decorum showed that a subset of these markers holds promise for congeneric species study. These sets of markers are potentially useful to investigate the genetic structure and gene flow of R. delavayi and other congeneric species.

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Xiao-Juan Wei, Xiao-Jing Liang, Jin-Lin Ma, Kai-Xiang Li, and Haiying Liang

Camellia flowers are highly prized for their beauty worldwide and are strongly symbolic in many cultures. A new interspecific hybrid cultivar, Camellia ‘Maozi’, generated by crossing Camellia pubipetala with C. japonica ‘Dahong Mudan’, exhibits strong hybrid vigor and has small flowers with a rare light tone of purple. In southwest China with a subtropical monsoon climate, young Camellia ‘Maozi’ trees flush shoots three times in spring, summer, and autumn, with an average annual growth of 12.9 cm. Adult trees flush once a year. Floral bud formation occurs in late April and early May. Camellia ‘Maozi’ flowers are sterile with no fruits and seeds produced. While an individual flower wilts 4–8 days after opening, the blossom can last 1–3 months. Frost damage can be found in young leaves when temperature drops to 4–7 °C. Under direct sunlight with temperatures of 37–39 °C lasting for more than 2 days, young leaves can turn yellow on their edges. Its primary diseases include sooty mold, shoot tip blight, and peony leaf tip blight. Its primary insect pests are tea green leafhopper (Jacobiasca formosana) and tea aphid (Toxoptera aurantii). Rooting of stem cuttings occurs directly from stems, mostly without callus development. Two hours of treatment with 500 mg·L−1 indole-3-butyric acid and rooting in a mix of latosolic red soil and vermiculite (2:1 v/v) resulted in high rooting rate and quality of aboveground growth. Grafting can be carried out from May to September, while survival rate and new shoot length are highest in July. The most compatible rootstock is C. oleifera, followed by C. polyodonta. The results of this study are of value for understanding the reproductive biology of Camellia ‘Maozi’ and further disseminating it as a new cultivar for camellia collection.

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Shunzhao Sui, Jianghui Luo, Daofeng Liu, Jing Ma, Weiting Men, Lu Fan, Yu Bai, and Mingyang Li

Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is a woody garden plant with fragrant flowers, which blooms in deep winter. The vase life of fresh cut flowers is 8–9 days. We applied ethylene and 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; an ethylene action inhibitor) to test the role of ethylene in flower opening and senescence. In addition, abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellic acid (GA3), two cytokinins, 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA), and zeatin (ZT) were also applied. The expression pattern of CpSRG1, a senescence-related gene, was analyzed. Ethylene treatment accelerated flower opening and senescence, decreasing vase life by 2.1 days. It also decreased flower break strength, indicating the induction of abscission. 1-MCP slowed opening, delayed senescence, and prolonged vase life by 2.6 days. Ethylene dramatically induced the expression of the CpSRG1 gene, while 1-MCP suppressed it. ZT promoted flower opening and increased vase life by 1.6 days. It suppressed the expression of CpSRG1. 6-BA, GA3, or ABA had no significant effect on flower opening and senescence of wintersweet.

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Xue Li, Chen Zang, Hang Ge, Jing Zhang, Donald Grierson, Xue-ren Yin, and Kun-song Chen

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a model fruit for investigating flesh lignification during storage and response to chilling injury. However, the investigations of enzymes and coding genes and loquat fruit lignification under low-temperature storage are still limited. Here, the activity and transcript levels of up-stream enzymes of the phenylpropanoid pathway, including l-phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), cinnamate 4-hydroxylase (C4H), and 4-coumarate:coenzyme A ligase (4CL), were investigated. The results indicated that activity of these enzymes was positively correlated with loquat fruit lignification and suppression of these increases by heat treatment (HT) and low-temperature conditioning (LTC) significantly alleviated loquat fruit lignification. Coding genes for these enzymes were subsequently isolated based on information from an RNA-seq database and expression of Ej4CL1 was found to be the most responsive to low temperature and inhibition by HT and LTC treatment, whereas the other genes were less responsive to these treatments. Furthermore, function of Ej4CL1 was analyzed by transient overexpression in tobacco leaves, where it stimulated lignin accumulation. Ej4CL1 may be a key candidate that involved in CI-related loquat fruit lignification.

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Xiao-Juan Wei, Jinlin Ma, Kai-Xiang Li, Xiao-Jing Liang, and Haiying Liang

The flowers of Camellia chrysantha, commonly named as golden camellia, are treasured for their unique yellow color and are popularly used for tea. Compared with common camellia flowers that are either red, purple, pink, or white, golden camellia flowers are rare and are in high market demand. Our study was aimed to induce flowering in juvenile C. chrysantha grafted plants with urea and paclobutrazol (PBZ), a growth retardant. Generally, it takes 6–8 years for C. chrysantha seedlings and 5–6 years for grafted plants to set flower buds. With a 4 × 4 factorial design, four dosages of urea (1, 3, 5, or 8 g/plant) and four concentrations of PBZ (50, 150, 350, and 750 ppm) were tested on 4-year-old C. chrysantha grafted plants. Significant interaction between urea and PBZ was observed, and nine of the 16 combinations produced significantly more flower buds than the control, although not all flower buds could open because of abscission. High concentrations of PBZ and high dosages of urea were generally associated with severe defoliation and slow growth of basal stem diameter. When taking bud abscission into account, combinations of 150 ppm PBZ with 1 g urea and 350 ppm PBZ with 3 g urea resulted in significant flowering in juvenile C. chrysantha grafted plants without negative effects on vegetative growth and flower bud size and severe defoliation. This is the first report on flowering induction in a golden camellia species using juvenile plants. Our results suggest that application of optimized PBZ and urea doses can be a potential means for manipulation of early flowering in golden camellia species.

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Jing Tian, Li-Ping Wang, Yan-Juan Yang, Jin Sun, and Shi-Rong Guo

Heat tolerance is considered to be an essential feature for cucumber (Cucumis sativus) production, and it has been suggested that higher antioxidant ability could prevent the oxidative damage in plants caused by high-temperature stress. We aimed to investigate whether the application of exogenous spermidine (Spd) increases antioxidant activities and, therefore, elevates the heat tolerance of cucumber. Cucumber seedlings (cv. Jinchun No. 4) showing moderate heat tolerance were grown in climate chambers to investigate the effects of exogenous Spd (1 mm) foliar spray treatment on the activities and isozyme levels of antioxidative enzymes under both high-temperature stress 42/32 °C (day/night) and normal temperature 28/18 °C (day/night). On high-temperature stress, the activities of superoxide dismutase and ascorbate peroxidase were significantly reduced; the catalase activity was initially lower and then increased, whereas the peroxidase activity was initially higher and then decreased. The levels of these isozymes also changed differently. On treatment with exogenous Spd, the activities of these antioxidant enzymes were noticeably enhanced, and the isozyme zymogram expression had some changes. It was concluded that foliar spray with Spd effectively improved the total antioxidant ability of cucumber seedlings and, therefore, enhanced the tolerance of the plants to high-temperature stress.

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Ren-jun Feng, Li-li Zhang, Jing-yi Wang, Jin-mei Luo, Ming Peng, Jun-feng Qi, Yin-don Zhang, and Li-fang Lu

Cold stress is one of the most important environmental factors affecting crop growth and agricultural production. Induced changes of gene expression and metabolism are critical for plants responding and acclimating to cold stress. Banana (Musa sp.) is one of the most important food crops in the tropical and subtropical countries of the world. Banana, which originated from tropical regions, is sensitive to cold, which can result in serious losses in commercial banana production. To investigate the response of the banana to cold stress conditions, changes in protein expression were analyzed using a comparative proteomics approach. ‘Brazil’ banana (Musa acuminata AAA group) is a common banana cultivar in southern China. ‘Brazil’ banana plantlets were exposed to 5 °C for 24 hours and then total crude protein was extracted from treatment and control leaves by phenol extraction, separated with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and subsequently identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Out of the more than 400 protein spots reproducibly detected, only 41 protein spots exhibited a change in intensity by at least 2-fold, with 26 proteins increasing and 15 proteins decreasing expression. Of these, 28 differentially expressed proteins were identified by MS. The identified proteins, including well-known and novel cold-responsive proteins, are involved in several cellular processes, including antioxidation and antipathogen, photosynthesis, chaperones, protein synthesis, signal transduction, energy metabolism, and other cellular functions. Proteins related to antioxidation, pathogen resistance, molecular chaperones, and energy metabolism were up-regulated, and proteins related to ethylene synthesis, protein synthesis, and epigenetic modification were down-regulated in response to cold temperature treatment. The banana plantlets incubated at cold temperatures demonstrated major changes in increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging, defense against diseases, and energy supply. Increased antioxidation capability in banana was also discovered in plantain, which has greater cold tolerance than banana in response to cold stress conditions. Therefore, we hypothesized that an increased antioxidation ability could be a common characteristic of banana and plantain in response to cold stress conditions. These findings may provide a better understanding of the physiological processes of banana in response to cold stress conditions.

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Daofeng Liu, Jing Ma, Jianfeng Yang, Tien V. Nguyen, Huamin Liu, Renwei Huang, Shunzhao Sui, and Mingyang Li

Wintersweet is a woody ornamental plant and has a long history of human cultivation. Few molecular markers have been characterized and remain scant in wintersweet. This study aimed to mine simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the transcriptomic database of wintersweet. A total of 3972 SSRs and 97,060 putative SNPs/indels (92,307 SNPs and 4753 indels) were identified in this data set. This study marks the highest number of SSR and SNP markers discovered to date from wintersweet by using transcriptome sequencing data. These identified markers will provide a useful source for molecular genetic studies such as genetic diversity and characterization, association mapping, and map-based gene cloning in wintersweet.

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Tonghua Pan, Juanjuan Ding, Gege Qin, Yunlong Wang, Linjie Xi, Junwei Yang, Jianming Li, Jing Zhang, and Zhirong Zou

During the autumn/spring “off” season, yield and quality of tomatoes are often affected by insufficient CO2 and low light in greenhouse production. Although tomato is one of the most widely cultivated vegetables, few studies have investigated the interactive effects of supplementary light and CO2 enrichment on its growth, photosynthesis, yield, and fruit quality in greenhouse production. This study investigates the effects of supplementary light (200 ± 20 μmol·m–2·s–1) and CO2 enrichment (increases to about 800 μmol·mol–1), independently and in combination, on these parameters in autumn through spring tomato production. Compared with tomatoes grown under ambient CO2 concentrations and no supplementary light (CaLn), supplementary light (CaLs) and supplementary light and CO2 enrichment (CeLs) significantly promoted growth and dry weight accumulation. Meanwhile, CO2 enrichment (CeLn) and CaLs significantly improved photosynthetic pigment contents and net photosynthetic (Pn) rates, whereas CeLs further improved these and also increased water use efficiency (WUE). CeLn, CaLs, and CeLs significantly increased single fruit weight by 16.2%, 28.9%, and 36.6%, and yield per plant by 19.0%, 35.6%, and 60.8%, respectively. The effect of supplementary light on these parameters was superior to that of CO2 enrichment. In addition, CaLs and CeLs improved nutritional quality significantly. Taken together, CeLs promoted the greatest yield, WUE, and fruit quality, suggesting it may be a worthwhile practice for off-season tomato cultivation.

Free access

Xiao-Juan Wei, Jinlin Ma, Kun Wang, Xiao-Jing Liang, Jin-Xuan Lan, Yue-Juan Li, Kai-Xiang Li, and Haiying Liang

Camellia chrysantha flowers are in great market demand as a result of their high ornamental and medicinal values. To induce early flowering in 4-year-old juvenile C. chrysantha seedlings, three levels of paclobutrazol (PBZ) concentration (100, 200, and 300 ppm) were applied to the roots. PBZ is a triazole-type cytochrome P450 inhibitor that was found successful in inducing flowering in juvenile C. chrysantha grafted plants in a prior report. The current study shows that all three PBZ concentrations were equally effective in induction of floral buds, resulting in an average of 20 floral buds per treated plant. In comparison, none of the untreated plants flowered. Although the induced flowers were smaller than the ones from mature trees, PBZ treatment did not affect C. chrysantha flowers’ medical values, because there was no significant change in the content of pharmacologically active compounds (polysaccharide, polyphenols, flavonoids, and saponins). None of the PBZ treatments had a negative effect on the current year’s growth in height and basal diameter, photosynthesis, and levels of water-soluble sugars and nutrients [phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), potassium (K), and carbon (C)]. It is concluded that PBZ is an effective flowering inducer for juvenile C. chrysantha plants. It was also found that PBZ-treated plants experienced defoliation, and there existed a strong correlation between severity of defoliation and PBZ concentration. This might be attributed by the stress induced by PBZ, as demonstrated by the increased activities of some of the stress-related enzymes [ascorbate peroxidase (APX), catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and peroxidase (POD)], and the level of malondialdehyde (MAD). Considering that severe defoliation can cause stunted or malformed plants and reduce aesthetic value, 100 ppm is the optimal PBZ concentration for flowering induction in C. chrysantha seedlings.