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Hassan Hajnajari, Bahaeddin Chashnidel, Kourosh Vahdati, Mohsen Ebrahimi, Alireza Nabipour, and Esmaeil Fallahi

To select the superior parents for the breeding program we oriented to produce new early-ripening cultivars, we evaluated more than 60 productive and vegetative characters in 108 native and imported cultivars grown in national collection for commercial apples located in Karaj, Iran, using an apple descriptor. The germination percentage of 100,000 hybrid seeds was 7% in the first year. In the second year, only 3000 from 7000 seedlings had to pass the final screening. Use of morphological markers as an early selection technique showed high efficiency in the apple breeding program. This study was conducted to determine heritability of certain morphological traits potentially used for selection of fruit early-ripening progenies in apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.). Morphological traits in 3- and 4-year-old seedlings from 28 half-sib and 16 full-sib families were studied in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Parent–progeny correlations were analyzed using true-to-type progenies and their relative parents, all in the juvenile phase. Significant variations were observed between parental cultivars and half-sib and full-sib progenies for most of the studied traits. Positive correlations were found between seedling height and other morphological characters. A highly significant correlation (r = 0.98) was observed between branch distance along seedling stem and number of branches. The results showed that the heritability varied among the traits, ranging from moderate to high values. A high level of heritability was found in leaf chlorophyll concentration (LCC) and seedling heights in both half-sib and full-sib families. Heritability of half-sib progenies derived from the early-ripening parents was higher than the late-ripening parents. The relatively high heritability estimates for morphological traits, particularly in early-ripening cross combinations, suggested narrow-sense heritability as a criterion for early screening. The progenies of early cultivars exhibited the maximum and minimum heritability for seedling height (0.91) and leaf length (0.56), respectively. Oppositely, in the late-ripening progenies, the maximum and minimum heritability were found in LW and TD traits (0.79 and 0.42), respectively.

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Karim Keshavarz, Kourosh Vahdati, Mahmoud Samar, Behzad Azadegan, and Patrick H. Brown

An experiment was conducted in a persian walnut (Juglans regia) orchard in the north of Iran to evaluate the effects of zinc (Zn) as zinc sulfate and/or boron (B) as boric acid in foliar spray with different concentrations and combinations. Three B and three Zn concentrations (0, 174, and 348 mg·L−1 for B and 0, 1050, and 1750 mg·L−1 for Zn) were applied either independently or in combination. Leaf nutrient concentrations, pollen germination, fruit set, leaf chlorophyll index, nut and kernel characteristics, vegetative growth, nut weight, and nut yield were measured to assess the effects of treatments. The results showed that all B and Zn applications and combinations had a significant effect on all traits except nut and kernel diameter, shell percent, husk thickness, and pistillate flower abscission (PFA). Pollen germination, fruit set, vegetative growth, nut weight, kernel percent, nut and kernel length, and chlorophyll index were highest when B and Zn were applied simultaneously at 174 and 1050 mg·L−1 concentrations, respectively.

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Asadolah Aslani Aslamarz, Kourosh Vahdati, Majid Rahemi, Darab Hassani, and Charles Leslie

To study the cold-hardiness of Persian walnut cultivars and selections, three methods were compared: 1) thermal analysis; 2) evaluation of tissue health after controlled freezing; and 3) field observations after a severe midwinter freeze. Stem segments and buds were collected from eight Persian walnut genotypes (four commercial cultivars and four promising Iranian selections). Thermal analysis was conducted using thermoelectric modules (TEM) to measure the high (HTE) and low (LTE) temperature exotherms produced when water and tissues freeze. TEM signals were recorded as the temperature of the samples was decreased at a rate of 2 °C/h. Tissue injury under controlled temperatures was evaluated using pre-chilled stem segments cooled at 2 °C/h to set temperatures ranging from –5 to –30 °C and then held at these temperatures for 16 h. Frozen samples were thawed and visually evaluated for severity of injury. Cold damage under field conditions was evaluated after an unusually severe winter freeze. Twigs from affected trees were removed in mid-February and in April and visually rated for extent of injury and ability to recover. The occurrence of LTEs was correlated with death of the tissues as assessed by tissue browning. Both the capacity to supercool and the cold-hardiness of cultivars and selections tested increased with accumulated seasonal chilling and decreased as they approached spring budbreak. Thermal analysis showed a tendency for buds and stems to exhibit multiple LTEs at peak dormancy. The cultivars and selections were classified into three groups based on their cold-hardiness: sensitive (‘Z30’ and ‘Serr’), semihardy (‘Z53’ and ‘Z67’), and hardy (‘Lara’, ‘Hartley’, ‘Z63’, and ‘Pedro’).

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Fatemeh Khodadadi, Masoud Tohidfar, Mehdi Mohayeji, Abhaya M. Dandekar, Charles A. Leslie, Daniel A. Kluepfel, Timothy Butterfield, and Kourosh Vahdati

Plants respond to pathogens with both active and passive defense mechanisms. These defense responses include the induction of defense or defense-related genes such as polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins. The role of PPO in the interaction between bacterial blight [Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (Xaj)] and walnut (Juglans regia) was studied. JrPPO-1 and P14a genes were identified in two walnut cultivars, Chandler and Serr, using standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to understand their inducible ability in response to Xaj. ‘Serr’ and ‘Chandler’ were inoculated with Xaj strain 417. PPO activity in leaves was assayed at 0, 24, 72, 96, 120, and 144 hours after inoculation. Results showed a steady increase in activity commencing within 24 hours of inoculation. Increase in PPO activity was close to 2-fold greater in ‘Chandler’ than in ‘Serr’ at all time points examined. Real-time PCR analysis showed differences between cultivars in PPO gene expression. The JrPPO-1 gene was highly expressed in both cultivars 24 hours after inoculation but expression in ‘Serr’ was much greater than in ‘Chandler’. Significant expression of P14a gene was observed in both cultivars within 24 hours. Expression in ‘Serr’ was strong and maximized with a significant increase at 96 hours. Expression in ‘Chandler’ was far weaker than ‘Serr’ at 24 hours and did not increase further. Our results imply that the walnut–bacterial blight interaction induces the expression of JrPPO-1 and P14a as well as the activity of PPO.

Open access

Darab Hassani, Mohammad Reza Mozaffari, Asghar Soleimani, Raana Dastjerdi, Reza Rezaee, Mansureh Keshavarzi, Kourosh Vahdati, Ahmad Fahadan, and Jamal Atefi

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Kourosh Vahdati, James R. McKenna, Abhaya M. Dandekar, Charles A. Leslie, Sandie L. Uratsu, Wesley P. Hackett, Paola Negri, and Gale H. McGranahan

Walnuts (Juglans spp.) are difficult-to-root woody plants. The rolABC genes (rolA + rolB + rolC), derived from the bacteria Agrobacterium rhizogenes, have been shown to increase the rooting potential of other difficult-to-root woody plants. We inserted the rolABC genes into somatic embryos of a `Paradox' hybrid (J. hindsii × J. regia) clone PX1 using the A. tumefaciens gene transfer system. A transgenic sub-clone, designated PX1 rolABC 2-2 was selected and compared to the untransformed clone for a variety of phenotypic characteristics, including rooting potential. Transformed and untransformed shoots were budded onto seedling J. regia rootstock in the greenhouse and established in the field. Transformed trees displayed reduced internode length, an increase in lateral branching, and wrinkled leaves. In another test, a commercial persian walnut cultivar J. regia `Chandler' was grafted onto rooted cuttings of both the untransformed and transformed plants. The presence of the rolABC genes in the rootstock had no visible effects on the grafted scion. Several of these trees were excavated from the field and the root systems of each genotype were examined for root number, diameter, and biomass. Trees with the rolABC rootstock had significantly more small diameter roots compared to the controls and less recovered biomass. Tests of the rooting potential of leafy semi-hardwood cuttings for two years resulted in 14% to 59% rooting of the transformed cuttings compared to 51% to 81% rooting of the control. Both transformed hardwood cuttings and microshoots in tissue culture also rooted significantly less (52% and 29% respectively) than untransformed hardwood cuttings and tissue cultured shoots (82% and 54% respectively). Thus, although the rolABC genes induced a shorter internode length and a more fibrous root system (typical of rol-tranformed plants), they were not useful for increasing the rooting potential, and as rootstock they did not affect the phenotype of the scion.