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Haijie Dou, Genhua Niu, and Mengmeng Gu

Green light penetrates deeper into the plant canopy because of its high transmittance and reflectance, and may potentially increase light interception and whole-canopy photosynthesis, whereas red and blue light is absorbed primarily by upper leaves. Moreover, green light induces shade avoidance responses and regulates secondary metabolism in plants. In this study, we investigated the effects of substituting partial red and/or blue light with green light on plant growth and development in basil (Ocimum basilicum) ‘Improved Genovese Compact’ (green) and ‘Red Rubin’ (purple) plants. There were four treatments: one combined red and blue (R&B) light treatment, R76B24 [the proportion of red (R) and blue (B) light was 76% and 24%, respectively]; and three green (G) light treatments—R44B24G32, R74B16G10, and R42B13G45—with green light proportions of 32%, 10%, and 45%, respectively. The experiment was conducted in a growth room and the photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of all treatments was set at 220 μmol·m−2·s−1 with a 16-h photoperiod. Plants were subirrigated as needed using a nutrient solution with an electrical conductivity (EC) of 2.0 dS·m−1 and a pH of 6.0. The net photosynthetic rate (Pn) in lower leaves was unaffected by green light treatments in green basil plants, whereas in purple basil plants it increased by 59% and 45% under treatments R44B24G32 and R74B16G10, respectively, compared with the combined R&B light. In green basil plants, treatments R44B24G32 and R42B13G45 induced stem elongation, but green light treatments showed no effects on petiole elongation, leaf expansion, leaf thickness, or plant yield. In purple basil plants, treatments R44B24G32 and R42B13G45 induced stem elongation and decreased leaf thickness and plant yield, but only the R42B13G45 treatment induced petiole elongation, and green light treatments showed no effects on leaf expansion. Concentrations of anthocyanin, phenolics, and flavonoids, and antioxidant capacity in green basil leaves showed no differences between treatments R76B24 and R44B24G32, but decreased under treatments R74B16G10 and R42B13G45. Concentrations of phenolics and flavonoids, and antioxidant capacity in purple basil leaves showed no differences between treatments R76B24 and R74B16G10, but decreased under treatments R44B24G32 and R42B13G45. Combining plant yield, nutritional values, and the working environment for growers, a white light with low green light proportion (≈10%) is recommended for basil production in a controlled environment.

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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, Royal D. Heins, Arthur Cameron, and Will Carlson

The effects of temperature on flower size and number of flower buds of Campanula carpatica Jacq. 'Blue Clips', 'Deep Blue Clips', and Campanula 'Birch Hybrid' were investigated in four temperature and light-transfer experiments. In year 1, 'Blue Clips' and 'Birch Hybrid' plants were grown initially at 20 °C and then transferred at visible flower bud (VB) to 14, 17, 20, 23, or 26 °C until flower (Expt. 1). In Expt. 2, 'Blue Clips' and 'Birch Hybrid' plants were transferred from 14 to 26 °C or from 26 to 14 °C at various intervals after flower induction. Flower size of both species was negatively correlated with average daily temperature (ADT) after VB; flowers on plants grown at 14 °C were 35% larger than those on plants grown at 26 °C. In contrast, temperature before VB had only a small effect on final flower size in both species, although flower diameter of 'Birch Hybrid' plants grown at constant 26 °C was 20% smaller than that of the plants grown initially at 20°C and then transferred to VB to 26 °C. For both species, the longer the exposure to high temperature after VB, the smaller the flowers. Number of flower buds at flower in 'Birch Hybrid' decreased as ADT after VB increased. In year 2, 'Deep Blue Clips' plants were grown at constant 20 °C under high or low daily light integral (DLI, 17 or 5.7 mol·m-2·d-1) until VB, and then transferred to 14, 17, 20, 23, or 26 °C under high or low DLI (Expt. 3). In Expt. 4, 'Deep Blue Clips' plants were grown at 14, 17, 20, 23, or 26 °C until VB, and then transferred to constant 20 °C under high or low DLI until flower. Flower size (petal length) was negatively correlated with ADT both before and after VB, while flower bud number was negatively correlated with the ADT only after VB, regardless of DLI. In both experiments, petal length decreased by 0.3 to 0.5 mm per 1 °C increase in ADT before or after VB. Flowers were larger and more numerous under high than under low DLIs after VB, regardless of the DLI before VB.

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Yoshiaki Kitaya, Genhua Niu, Maki Ohashi, and Toyoki Kozai

Artificial lighting is widely used in controlled environment plant production to enhance plant growth and quality. However, high light intensity with artificial lighting is costly, and often causes increase of leaf temperature and, thus, leaf burn. We investigated the effects of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) and photoperiod on the growth and morphogenesis of lettuce plug transplants under ambient and enriched CO2 levels. Three days after seeding, the plants were cultured under four PPF levels (100, 150, 200, and 300 μmol·m–2·s–1), two photoperiods (16 and 24 hr), and two CO2 levels (400 and 800 μmol·mol–1) for 18 days in growth chambers. Light source was fluorescent lamps. The air temperature around the plants was kept at 20°C. The results showed that dry weight of the plants increased linearly as PPF and daily integrated PPF (product of PPF and photoperiod) increased under both CO2 levels. At the same daily integrated PPF, higher CO2 level and longer photoperiod led to higher dry weight of the plants. CO2 enrichment increased significantly dry weight of the plants. The ratio of T/R and specific leaf area of the plants decreased quadratically as daily integrated PPF increased under both CO2 levels. The ratio of leaf length to leaf width of the plants decreased quadratically as PPF increased under the two photoperiods and CO2 levels.

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Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, and Yin-Tung Wang

The effect of drought on the growth and gas exchange of six bedding plant species—agastache [Agastache urticifolia (Benth.) O. Kuntze `Honeybee Blue'], dusty miller (Cineraria maritima L. `Silverdusty'), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida `Wave Purple'), plumbago (Plumbago auriculata Lam. `Escapade'), ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum L. `Black Pearl'), and vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don `Titan']—was quantified under greenhouse conditions. Seeds were sown in January and seedlings were grown in the greenhouse until 18 Apr., when two irrigation treatments—drought (D, ≈18% volumetric moisture content at reirrigation) and control (C, ≈25% volumetric moisture content at reirrigation)—were initiated. Leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gs), and transpiration (E) were determined in response to a range of substrate moisture content (from ≈5% to 30% by volume) and temperature (from 20 °C to 40 °C). Dry weight of agastache, ornamental pepper, and vinca was unaffected by drought, whereas that of other species was reduced. Leaf area of plumbago and height of plumbago and vinca were reduced by drought. As substrate moisture content decreased from 25% to 10%, Pn, E, and gs decreased linearly in all species except petunia and plumbago. Leaf net photosynthetic rate of all species declined as leaf temperature increased from 20 °C to 40 °C. In contrast, E of all species, except petunia, increased as temperature increased. Transpiration rate of petunia increased as temperature increased from 20 °C to 30 °C, and then decreased between 30 °C and 40 °C. Although petunia had the highest Pn among the tested species, its Pn and gs declined more rapidly compared with the other species as temperature increased from 20 °C to 40 °C or as substrate moisture content decreased, indicating that petunia was most sensitive to high temperature and drought.

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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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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.

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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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Ockert Greyvenstein, Brent Pemberton, Terri Starman, Genhua Niu, and David Byrne

The decline in sales of garden roses can, in part, be attributed to the lack of well-adapted cultivars. Successful selection for any trait requires an accurate phenotyping protocol. Apart from field screening, a protocol for phenotyping high-temperature tolerance in garden roses is yet to be established. An experiment was conducted to determine the stage of development when flowers were most sensitive to high-temperature stress. Liners of Rosa L. ‘Belinda’s Dream (BD) and the Knock Out® rose ‘RADrazz’ (KO) were planted in a soilless medium and grown in a greenhouse. Established plants were pruned retaining several nodes with leaves on two main shoots and treatments started. The experiment was conducted in growth chambers held at either 24/17 °C (control) or 36/28 °C (stress) day/night temperatures. Six time and duration temperature treatments included 8 weeks of continuous control conditions, 8 weeks of continuous stress conditions, and four sequential 2-week high-temperature shock treatments. Continuously stressed plants flowered in the least amount of days but did not differ from the continuous control-treated plants based on nonlinear thermal unit accumulation until flowering. Both cultivars had a 70% reduction in flower dry weight under continuous stress conditions. Flowers were most sensitive to high-temperature stress at the visible bud stage, which corresponds to Weeks 5 to 6 and Weeks 7 to 8 for BD and Weeks 3 to 4 and Weeks 5 to 6 for KO, respectively. KO was more resistant to flower abscission than BD when treated at the visible bud stage, but no difference in flower dry weight reduction between BD and KO was found. The number of vegetative nodes to the flower was unaffected by treatment and differed between the cultivars.

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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.