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Genhua Niu, Toyoki Kozai, and Chieri Kubota

A system was designed for measuring the CO2 exchange rates [net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and dark respiration rate] of in vitro plantlets in situ (in the vessel with natural ventilation). The system, excluding gas cylinders, was placed in a growth chamber so that the desired photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) and temperature could be maintained during the measurement. The CO2 concentration inside the culture vessel (Ci) was indirectly controlled by controlling the CO2 concentration outside the vessel (Co). The Pn of the plantlets was estimated based on the measured Ci and Co at steady state using a gas chromatograph according to the method described by Fujiwara et al. (1987). The performance of the system was demonstrated by measuring the in situ Pn of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam., cv. Beniazuma] and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., cv. Hana Queen) plantlets in vitro under a range of CO2 concentrations and PPF. The photosynthetic parameters of the Pn model (Niu and Kozai, 1997) for the plantlets were then estimated based on the measured Pn. The preliminary measurements demonstrated the potential application of the system.

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Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, and Wayne Mackay

Oleander (Nerium oleander L.), native to southern Asia and the Mediterranean region, is a fast-growing evergreen shrub planted widely in the southern United States. A greenhouse study was conducted to quantify the growth and physiological responses of two cultivars, Hardy Pink and Hardy Red, and two breeding lines, EP1 and EP2, of oleander to a 12-week cyclic drought stress. Drought stress was imposed by irrigating the plants to near container capacity and then withholding irrigation until predetermined container weights were reached. Compared with the control where plants were well-irrigated throughout the experiment, shoot dry weight (DW) was reduced by 52%, 41%, 34%, and 11% in EP1, EP2, ‘Hardy Red’, and ‘Hardy Pink’, respectively. Root-to-shoot DW ratio was higher for the drought-treated plants than the control, regardless of cultivar or breeding line (hereafter, clone). The increase in root-to-shoot DW ratio from the drought treatment was highest in EP1, followed by EP2, ‘Hardy Pink’, and ‘Hardy Red.’ New shoot growth was greatest in ‘Hardy Pink’, followed by ‘Hardy Red’, EP1, and EP2. The number of newly developed shoots during the drought treatment period was 6.8, 3.0, 0.7, and 0.0 in ‘Hardy Pink’, ‘Hardy Red’, EP1, and EP2, respectively. As substrate volumetric moisture content decreased from 30%, leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn), evapotranspiration rate (E), and stomatal conductance (gs) decreased in all clones. A curvilinear relationship between Pn and gs was found in all clones. EP1 had a lower maximum Pn (Pm) than those of ‘Hardy Pink’ and EP2 but was not different from that of ‘Hardy Red’. Predawn leaf water potential began to decrease rapidly when substrate moisture content dropped below 15% in all clones. During the dry-down, compared with the control, increases in minimal fluorescence (F0) or decreases in maximal fluorescence (Fm) and Fv/Fm (Fv = Fm – F0) in drought-stressed plants were observed in all clones, indicating some damage in photosystem II from the drought treatment. However, compared with growth parameters, the differences in physiological responses to drought stress among the clones were much smaller. ‘Hardy Pink’ was more tolerant to drought stress than ‘Hardy Red’ and the other two clones in terms of productivity because it maintained greatest growth during the drought-stress period. However, EP2 and EP1 may be more tolerant if survival is concerned because they had a higher root-to-shoot DW ratio with minimal new growth.

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Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, Lizzie Aguiniga, and Wayne Mackay

Use of recycled water to irrigate urban landscapes and nursery plants may be inevitable as fresh water supplies diminish and populations continue to grow in the arid and semiarid southwestern United States. Lupinus havardii Wats. (Big Bend bluebonnet) has potential as a cut flower and Lupinus texensis Hook. (Texas bluebonnet) as a bedding plant, but little information is available on salt tolerance of these species. A greenhouse study was conducted to characterize the growth in response to various salinity levels. Plants were grown in 10-L containers and drip-irrigated with synthesized saline solutions at electrical conductivity levels of 1.6, 3.7, 5.7, 7.6, or 9.4 dS·m−1. Although shoot growth of L. texensis was reduced as salinity levels increased, it was visually acceptable (without any visual injury) when irrigated with salinity levels of less than 7.6 dS·m−1. All plants survived at 7.6 dS·m−1, whereas only 15% did at 9.4 dS·m−1. In contrast, L. havardii had leaf injury at 5.7 dS·m−1. No plants survived at 9.4 dS·m−1, and only 7% plants survived at 7.6 dS·m−1. In addition, growth of L. havardii was significantly reduced and plants were shorter at elevated salinity levels. Cut raceme yield of L. havardii decreased at salinity levels greater than 3.7 dS·m−1. However, no difference in cut raceme yield was observed between the control and 3.7 dS·m−1, although shoot growth was reduced. Overall, L. texensis was more salt-tolerant than L. havardii.

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Xiaoya Cai, Youping Sun, Terri Starman, Charles Hall, and Genhua Niu

Earth-Kind® is a special designation given to select rose cultivars with superior stress tolerance (heat, drought, and pest tolerance) and outstanding landscape performance. The responses of Earth-Kind® roses to high salinity stress are unknown. A greenhouse study was conducted to evaluate 18 Earth-Kind® rose cultivars (Belinda’s Dream, Cecile Brunner, Climbing Pinkie, Ducher, Duchesse de Brabant, Else Poulsen, Georgetown Tea, La Marne, Madame Antoine Mari, Marie Daly, Monsieur Tillier, Mrs. Dudley Cross, Mutabilis, Perle d’Or, Reve d’Or, Sea Foam, Souvenir de St. Anne’s, and Spice) in College Station and 10 of the same 18 cultivars in El Paso in response to two salinity levels at electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 (control, nutrient solution) and 10.0 dS·m−1 (EC 10). In both locations, ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Climbing Pinkie’ in EC 10 had no or little reduction in shoot growth, flower number, and leaf SPAD readings. The net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration (E) did not decrease in these two cultivars at EC 10 in El Paso. In College Station, ‘Mrs. Dudley Cross’, ‘Reve d’Or’, and ‘Sea Foam’ in EC 10 also had no or little reduction in shoot growth, flower number, and leaf SPAD readings. In both locations, ‘Cecile Brunner’ and ‘Else Poulsen’ in EC 10 had severe visual foliar salt damage, and they had the greatest reductions in shoot growth and flower number. In addition to these two cultivars, the lowest relative shoot dry weight (DW) and flower number was observed in ‘Madame Antoine Mari’, ‘Perle d’Or’, ‘Spice’, and ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’s’ in College Station. In summary, ‘Belinda’s Dream’, ‘Climbing Pinkie’, ‘ Mrs. Dudley Cross’, ‘Reve d’Or’, and ‘Sea Foam’ were the most salt-tolerant cultivars, whereas ‘Cecile Brunner’, ‘Else Poulsen’, ‘Madame Antoine Mari’, ‘Perle d’Or’, ‘Spice’, and ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’s’ were the least salt-tolerant among the cultivars investigated.

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Xiaoya Cai, Terri Starman, Genhua Niu, and Charles Hall

A greenhouse study was conducted to quantify the irrigation requirements of two rose (Rosa hybrida L.) cultivars, RADrazz and Belinda’s Dream, which are widely valued for their ease of maintenance in landscapes, grown at four constant volumetric substrate moisture contents (SMCs) of 10%, 20%, 30%, and 40%. In both cultivars, there were no differences in growth and physiological responses between 30% and 40% SMC. In ‘RADrazz’, shoot dry weight (DW) was reduced by 25% and 86%, root DW was reduced by 27% and 71%, and flower number was reduced by 27% and 86% at 20% and 10% SMC, respectively, compared with 30% SMC. Midday leaf water potential (ψ), photosynthesis (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration (E) were highest at 30% and 40% SMC and they were lowest at 10% SMC. In ‘Belinda’s Dream’, shoot DW was reduced by 30% and 87%, root DW was reduced by 35% and 81%, and flower number was reduced by 42% and 75% at 20% and 10% SMC, respectively, compared with 30% SMC. Midday ψ was least negative at 40% SMC, whereas it was most negative at 10% SMC. There were no significant differences in midday ψ between 20% and 30% SMC. Pn, g S, and E were highest at 30% and 40% SMC and lowest at 10% SMC. In summary, plants at 30% and 40% SMC maintained the highest shoot and root DW, flower number, midday ψ, Pn, g S, and E. Water applied at 30% and 20% SMC was reduced by 31% and 70% compared with 40% SMC with excellent performance at 30% SMC and acceptable growth and quality at 20% SMC. The 10% SMC led to significant growth reduction, poor quality, and 25% mortality.

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Shasha Wu, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, James Altland, and Raul Cabrera

Asteraceae is one of the largest plant families with many important garden ornamental species. Salt tolerance of 10 aster perennials was evaluated in a greenhouse experiment, including the following: damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), gregg’s mistflower (Eupatorium greggii), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum ×superbum ‘Becky’), blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum), lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus), aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium), copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), skeleton-leaf goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba), and zexmenia (Wedelia texana). Plants were irrigated with nutrient solution at electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solutions at EC of 5.0 or 10.0 dS·m−1 (EC 5 or EC 10) for 5 weeks. Upon termination, growth parameters, foliar salt damage, relative chlorophyll content [Soil-Plant Analysis Development (SPAD) readings], and mineral concentration were measured. Gregg’s mistflower, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, and lavender cotton were the most salt-tolerant species with less reductions in shoot dry weight (DW) in both EC 5 and EC 10. Considering the relatively severe foliar salt damage (visual quality score of 3.1 and 2.7 at EC 5; 2.4 and 1.6 at EC 10) and mortality rate (10% and 40%) in EC 10, aromatic aster and zexmenia should be avoided where poor quality water may be used for irrigation. Gregg’s mistflower and skeleton-leaf goldeneye had relatively lower leaf sodium (Na) concentrations suggesting that both species can selectively exclude Na. Damianita and the four daisies, i.e., blackfoot daisy, copper canyon daisy, four-nerve daisy, and shasta daisy, were salt sensitive as evidenced by their greater growth reduction, foliar salt damage, and high Na and chlorine (Cl) accumulation in leaves, and should be avoided in landscapes where poor quality water may be used for irrigation.

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Xiaoya Cai, Terri Starman, Genhua Niu, Charles Hall, and Leonardo Lombardini

A greenhouse study was conducted to evaluate the response of four garden roses (Rosa ×hybrid L.), ‘RADrazz’, ‘Belinda’s Dream’, ‘Old Blush’, and ‘Marie Pavie’, to drought stress. Plants grown in containers were subjected to two watering treatments, well-irrigated [water as needed: ≈35% substrate moisture content (SMC) at re-watering] and cyclic drought stress (withholding irrigation until plants exhibit incipient wilting: ≈10% SMC, then re-watering to field capacity for subsequent dry down). Shoot growth and flower number were reduced in the drought treatment compared with the well-irrigated plants in all cultivars with least reduction in ‘RADrazz’. Drought stress reduced root growth in ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Marie Pavie’, whereas there was no difference in root growth in ‘RADrazz’ and ‘Old Blush’. Decreased SMC induced reduction in net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), transpiration rate (E), and midday leaf water potential (ψ). Leaf water use efficiency (WUE) increased as SMC decreased in all cultivars. However, the relationship between these physiological parameters and SMC differed among the cultivars. At SMC between 10% and 20%, ‘RADrazz’ had higher Pn, g S, E, and WUE compared with the other three cultivars. Therefore, ‘RADrazz’ was the most drought-tolerant during container production among the cultivars investigated. With lower gas exchange rates and greater reduction in flower number at low SMC, ‘Marie Pavie’ was less drought-tolerant compared with the other three cultivars.

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Jun Yuan, Liyuan Huang, Naifu Zhou, Hui Wang, and Genhua Niu

Aluminum (Al) toxicity and phosphorus (P) deficiency are two crucial factors limiting the production of Camellia oleifera, which is grown commercially in red acidic soils in Southern China. The current study characterized the different forms of P and Al in the red acidic soils of C. oleifera plantations. Soil and plant tissue samples taken from 32 Camellia plantations across Hunan province were analyzed. Furthermore, a pot experiment with nutrient solutions of different Al and P contents was carried out to investigate P and Al uptake and their effect on C. oleifera growth. The results showed that the P content extracted by NaOH (Fe-P) was the highest in all types of soil samples (rhizosphere, 0–20 cm, and 20–40 cm zones), followed by P extracted by NH4F (Al-P), H2SO4 (Ca-P), and Na3C6H5O7 (O-P). HCl (In-Al), NH4Ac (Ha-Al), and Na4P2O7·10H2O (Or-Al) extracted Al were the main forms and accounted for 22.8%, 23.1%, and 23.8% of total Al, respectively. KCl extracted Al (Ex-Al) contents in the rhizosphere, 0–20 cm, and 20–40 cm soil zones were 4.78, 4.86, and 4.59 mg·kg−1, respectively. P contents in roots, young leaves, and old leaves were 0.80, 0.82, and 0.64 mg·kg−1, respectively. The highest Al content of 11.35 g·kg−1 was found in the old leaves, followed by roots and young leaves. Correlation analyses revealed that P in roots was positively associated with available P (AP) and Al-P in rhizosphere. P in roots and young leaves also had a positive correlation with Ex-Al, whereas Al in old leaves was positively correlated with In-Al and total Al. Significant correlations between Al-P, Ex-Al, and AP were detected. The pot experiment indicated that adding Al or P alone increased plant growth and Al or P uptake, respectively. When adding both Al and P, significant synergistic effect was found. These results suggest that Al is beneficial to C. oleifera, which may be the adaptive mechanism of C. oleifera to use insoluble Al-P in red acidic soil.

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Genhua Niu, Royal Heins, Arthur Cameron, and William Carlson

The influence of vernalization temperature and duration and devernalization treatments on subsequent growth and flower development of Campanula `Birch Hybrid' and Leucanthemum ×superbum Bergman ex J. Ingram `Snow Cap' was determined. In the vernalization experiment, plants of `Birch Hybrid' were vernalized at 0, 2.5, 5, 7.5, or 10 °C for 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks. `Snow Cap' was vernalized at 0, 2.5, 5, or 10 °C for 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks. In another devernalization experiment, plants of both species were moved to a high temperature (30/10 °C, day/night) growth chamber for 2 or 4 days at various times during or after the 6-week vernalization period. A 6-week vernalization was necessary to obtain 100% flowering in `Birch Hybrid', and 8 weeks of vernalization decreased time to flower by 7 to 10 days compared with 6-week vernalization. Exposure to high temperature for 2 days during or immediately after vernalization did not devernalize `Birch Hybrid' plants, while a 4-day exposure decreased flowering percentage in some treatments and delayed flowering by 7 to 10 days. There were no significant differences in flowering characteristics of `Snow Cap' plants vernalized at 0 to 5 °C for 4 to 8 weeks. A 2-week vernalization at 0, 2.5, 5, or 10 °C or 4 to 8 week vernalization at 10 °C delayed flowering by 5 to 10 days compared with those vernalized at 0 to 5 °C for 4 to 8 weeks. Exposure to high temperature for 2 d did not devernalize `Snow Cap' plants regardless of exposure times, but a 4-day exposure delayed flowering by 4 to 5 days in some treatments. Combined, the data indicate that `Birch Hybrid' has an obligate 6-week vernalization requirement and `Snow Cap' has a facultative 4-week vernalization requirement that can be fulfilled in the 0 to 10 °C range. Exposure to temperatures of 30 °C (9 h·d-1) for 12 out of 42 days did not devernalize either species but in some cases caused a small delay in time to flower.

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Genhua Niu, Minzi Wang, Denise Rodriguez, and Donglin Zhang

As high-quality water supply becomes limited in many regions of the world, alternative water sources are being used for irrigating urban landscapes. Therefore, salt-tolerant landscape plants are needed. Two greenhouse experiments were conducted to screen the salt tolerance of Zinnia marylandica (‘Zahara Coral Rose’, ‘Zahara Fire’, ‘Zahara Scarlet’, ‘Zahara Starlight’, ‘Zahara White’, and ‘Zahara Yellow’) and Z. maritima ‘Solcito’. In Expt. 1, plants were subirrigated with nutrient or saline solutions at electrical conductivity (EC) at 1.4 (base nutrient solution, control), 3.0, 4.2, 6.0, or 8.2 dS·m−1 for 4 weeks, whereas in Expt. 2, plants were surface-irrigated with the same nutrient or saline solutions for 4 weeks. In Expt. 1, all plants, regardless of cultivar, died by the end of the treatment at EC 6.0 and EC 8.2 as a result of high salinity in the root zone. Plants became shorter and more compact as EC of irrigation water increased. Shoot dry weight of all cultivars in EC 4.2 was reduced by 50% to 56% compared with that of the control. Shoot Na+ and Cl accumulated excessively as salinity increased in the irrigation water, whereas Ca2+, Mg2+, and K+ did not change substantially. In Expt. 2, mortality varied with cultivar and treatment. Similar to Expt. 1, growth reduction resulting from elevated salinity across cultivars was found. Therefore, it is concluded that zinnia cultivars used in this study are sensitive to salinity and should not be planted in areas with high soil salinity or when alternative waters with high salinity may be used for irrigation.