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Ahmed A. Tawfik and Jiwan P. Palta

We have shown that tuber calcium can be enhanced by supplying soluble forms of calcium near the tuber stolon region during bulking. In the present study we applied calcium nitrate or N-HIB during bulking (hilling, 3 and 6 wks after hilling) by injecting these Ca sources into sprinkler irrigation line. Field plots were established with cv `Russet Burbank' in sandy loam soil containing about 1200 Kg Ca ha-1. All plots received equal amounts of nitrogen. Plots receiving only nitrogen (as NH4NO3) at the same time served as split N controls and the plots receiving complete nitrogen by the time of hilling (non-split N) served as the grower control.

In 1990 compared to non-split-N control a consistently higher tuber yield was obtained with split-N, N-HIB (113 Kg.Ca ha-1) calcium nitrate (113 Kg Ca ha-1). However, these differences were not significant. Tuber calcium contents were increased with N-HIB and calcium nitrate. After 5 months of storage the incidence of soft rot and of internal brown spot was significantly reduced. In 1991 N-HIB (113 Kg ha-1) gave significantly higher tuber yield than other treatments. Tuber calcium contents were increased with both calcium nitrate and N-HIB treatments. After four months of storage incidence of internal brown spot was reduced by calcium nitrate and N-HIB although calcium nitrate was most effective. These results demonstrate that it is possible to improve tuber calcium contents by application of 113-226 Kg Ca ha-1 during bulking even in a soil containing sufficient calcium for plant growth.

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Zienab F.R. Ahmed and Jiwan P. Palta

Banana is one of the most consumed tropical fruits around the world. It is marketed nearly all year-around and has a relatively short shelf life. Fruits are harvested mature green and treated with ethylene to stimulate ripening before distribution and sale. The fruits generally ripen within 4–5 days after ethylene treatment and sold primarily at yellow stage of ripening. After turning yellow the fruit becomes unsuitable for marketing in 1–3 days. Thus 1–2 days of improvement in the fruit shelf life could enhance the market value of banana. Previous studies conducted in our laboratory have demonstrated that both pre- and postharvest application of lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE) can retard aging and improve shelf life of various fruits. The objective of this study was to investigate the possibility of improving shelf life of banana fruit by a postharvest dip in LPE. For this purpose, whole fruits obtained from the market at ripeness stage of 2.5 (about 75% green) were dipped in solution of 500 ppm LPE for 30 minutes and observed for a period of five days at room temperature. Each treatment was applied to 50 uniform fruits. From each hand bought, an equal number of fruits were separated for LPE and control treatments to reduce the variability. Five days after dip treatment, the fruit treated with LPE were firmer and thicker as compared with the control. Starch breakdown was also delayed in the LPE-treated fruits. LPE treatment slowed the development of brown spots on the peel tissue. Both peel and pulp tissue of LPE-treated fruits had lower ion leakage compared with the control. Fruit peel slices treated with LPE for 3 hours also showed a decrease in ion leakage and respiration rate at 24 hours after treatment. Results of the present study indicate that a postharvest dip treatment with LPE may improve shelf life of banana fruit by 1–2 days. These results suggest that LPE may improve shelf life by maintaining membrane integrity, reducing respiration, and slowing the breakdown of starch and cell walls during ripening and senescence of banana fruit tissue.

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Mustafa Özgen, Sookhee Park, and Jiwan P. Palta

Mitigation of ethylene promoted leaf senescence by lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE) was studied. Micropropagated `Russet Burbank' potato (Solanum tuberosum L.,) plantlets were grown on MS media in sterile culture tubes. After 2 weeks of growth, tubes were sealed and ethylene gas was applied to obtain 5 nL·L–1 final concentration in the culture tubes. Observations and measurements were taken two weeks after ethylene injection. Potato plantlets treated with ethylene showed severe leaf senescence symptoms such as epinasty, lack of growth, yellowing and axillary shoot formation. These observations indicate that apical dominance has been lost with ethylene treatment. The same experiment was repeated with different concentrations of LPE in the MS medium. Inclusion of 50 or 100 mg·L–1 of LPE in the medium mitigated the damage normally caused by applied ethylene. Leaves of plantlets exposed simultaneously to LPE and ethylene had significantly higher chlorophyll content and more healthy leaves compared to plantlets grown on medium lacking LPE. Results of this study suggest that LPE may have the potential to retard ethylene-promoted leaf senescence and may mitigate ethylene induced loss in apical dominance of micropropagated potato plantlets.

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Bjorn H. Karlsson and Jiwan P. Palta*

Supplemental calcium application has been shown in our previous work to improve tuber quality and reduce internal defects. We evaluated the response under field conditions of five commerically significant cultivars to a combination of calcium nitrate, calcium chloride and urea (168 kg·ha-1 per season) over three seasons. We were able to determine that the cultivar with the greatest response to supplemental calcium for reduced bruising, `Atlantic' had the lowest levels of tuber tissue calcium. Conversely, cultivars with least response to supplemental calcium, `Dark Red Norland' and `Superior', had the highest levels of tuber tissue calcium. `Snowden' was both intermediate in response to calcium and tuber tissue concentration. Based on data for 3 years, we determined that across cultivars the calcium concentration at which tubers no longer respond is ≈250 ppm and ranges for individual years from 195 to 242 ppm. These results suggest that seasonal variation for individual cultivars may affect the tuber need for calcium for reduced bruising. Although the exact mechanism is not known, we believe that calcium supplemented to bulking tubers may lead to improved cell membrane stability, increased wall structure or enhanced ability of tubers to repair following injury. The results of our study show that supplemental calcium fertilization has the ability to significantly reduce the incidence of tuber bruising for several cultivars.

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Karim M. Farag and Jiwan P. Palta

We have demonstrated that postharvest treatment of McIntosh apple fruits with Lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE) delays the loss of firmness. In the present study, McIntosh apples were preharvest treated by hand spray to the run off point. Fruits were sprayed on August 28, 1991 and harvested two weeks later. One half of the tree was sprayed with LPE (100 ppm) and the other half was the control. Three trees were used in this study. Periodical samples for starch test, internal CO2 and ethylene, total soluble solids and evolved CO2 and ethylene were taken to monitor the progress of ripening. At harvest, on average, LPE treated apples abscised 26% while the control trees abscised 55%. LPE treated apples colored earlier and had more uniform and intense color than the control. In a related study, we have found the LPE can delay senescence of tomato leaf and fruit tissues. The delay of the abscission of apples by LPE, found in the present study, might be due to the effect of LPE on delaying senescence of cells in abscission zone of apple fruit pedicle. These results suggest that LPE has the potential to substitute for the use of NAA on apples before harvest and at the same time LPE can improve color uniformity and density of McIntosh apples.

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Beth Ann A. Workmaster and Jiwan P. Palta

`Stevens' cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) terminal bud freezing stress resistance was assessed by nonlinear regression utilizing relative scoring of the post-thaw bud growth and development based on defined bud stages 2 weeks following controlled freezing tests. Bud stages tested were chosen based on a phenology profile from each sampling date throughout the spring season. Previous year (overwintering) leaf freezing stress resistance was evaluated after both 2 days (injury) and 2 weeks (survival). The Gompertz function with a bootstrapping method was used to estimate the tissues' relative freezing stress resistance as the LT50. Bud injury levels (LT50) were expressed as the temperatures at which the mean potential regrowth capability was impaired by 50%, as compared with the unfrozen controls. In leaves, the LT50 is the temperature at which 50% injury (2-day evaluation) or survival (2-week evaluation) was modeled to occur. Dramatic changes in terminal bud relative freezing stress resistance occurred both within and between the tight and swollen bud stages. These results clearly show that seasonal changes in freezing stress resistance do not necessarily parallel changes in crop phenology and bud development. These results indicate that some physiological, biochemical, or fine anatomical changes may explain the seasonal loss in hardiness within a visual bud stage. Previous year leaves may possess the ability to recover from freeze-induced injury, as leaf survival was found to be the most reliable indicator of cranberry leaf hardiness. Major shifts in phenology and bud and leaf hardiness coincided with the rise of minimum canopy-level air temperatures to above freezing. The nonlinear regression technique utilized made it possible to estimate LT50 with data points comprising half or more of the sigmoidal dose response curve. Our study provides precise and quantitative estimates of the cold hardiness changes in cranberry terminal buds and leaves in spring. From precise estimates we were able to define critical temperatures for the impairment of cranberry bud growth. This is the first systematic study of cranberry terminal bud cold hardiness and spring bud development in relation to changes in the soil and air temperatures under natural conditions. Our study shows that regrowth assessment of the cranberry upright inherently describes the composite effects of freezing stress on plant health.

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Björn H. Karlsson and Jiwan P. Palta

Recent studies suggest cold-regulated heat-stable proteins mitigate the potential damaging effects of low water activity associated with freezing. A proposed function of these proteins is stabilization of enzymes during exposure of plants to subzero temperatures. To test this hypothesis for tuber-bearing Solanum L. species we determined the quantitative expression of heat-stable proteins, the qualitative changes in dehydrin proteins, and the capacity of heat-stable proteins to cryoprotect a freeze-thaw labile enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). We used five tuber-bearing Solanum species (S. tuberosum L. `Red Pontiac', S. acaule Bitter, S. sanctae rosea Hawkes, S. commersonii Dunal, and S. cardiophyllum Bitter), which vary in nonacclimated relative freezing tolerance (NA RFT), acclimated relative freezing tolerance (AC RFT), and acclimation capacity (ACC). The protein fraction containing a mixture of heat-stable proteins demonstrated cryoprotective capacities greater or equal to other cryoprotective compounds (bovine serum albumin, polyethylene glycol, glycerol, and sucrose). Heat-stable proteins extracted from acclimated S. commersonii had superior cryoprotective capacity than those extracted from nonacclimated S. commersonii plants. Interestingly, in the presence of these proteins extracted from acclimated plants (in S. commersonii and S. sanctae rosea), LDH activity was elevated above that of unfrozen controls. No quantitative relationships were found between heat-stable protein concentration and NA RFT, AC RFT, or ACC among the five species. This was also true for dehydrin protein expression. Cold acclimation treatment resulted in increased dehydrin expression for acclimating and nonacclimating species. In three of the cold acclimating species (S. acaule, S. sanctae rosea, and S. commersonii), an increase in dehydrin expression may play a role in increased freezing tolerance during cold acclimation. In the cold sensitive, nonacclimating species (S. tuberosum and S. cardiophyllum), however, an increase in dehydrin level maybe related to the response of these species to changed (perhaps stressful) environment during cold treatment. By exploiting the genetic variation in NA RFT and ACC for five tuber-bearing species, we were able to gain new insight into the complexity of the relationship between heat-stable protein and cold response.

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Karim M. Farag and Jiwan P. Palta

A natural lipid, lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE), was used as a tomato fruit ripening agent. The effect of this compound on hastening the ripening and on the defoliation of the `Heinz 7155' processing tomato and the Glamour fresh-market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) was compared to the effect of ethephon. Vines were sprayed to runoff in the field with a hand sprayer and fruits were harvested 2 weeks or 20 days later in a single harvest operation. LPE (100 mg liter-1) accelerated ripening of both processing and fresh-market tomatoes without defoliation. LPE-treated tomatoes had a better shelf life than the control or ethephon-treated fruit, whether they were harvested at the breaker, pink, or red stage of maturity. The combination of LPE and ethephon (100 mg liter-1) enhanced tomato ripening without damaging the foliage, suggesting that LPE can mitigate the undesirable effects of ethephon on foliage and the fruit. The LPE-related lipid phosphatidyldimethylethanol-amine dipalmitoyl (PDED) also was able to enhance some aspects of keeping quality of tomato fruits, but was not able to enhance fruit ripening. Phosphatidylethanolamine was not as effective as LPE or PDED. It appears that the active molecule of this natural lipid is the lyso form. Our results provide evidence that LPE can enhance tomato fruit ripening and postharvest storage life of vine-ripe fruits and fruits picked at early ripeness stages.

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J. Angel Saavedra, Elden J. Stang, and Jiwan P. Palta

Uniconazole (UCZ) can control tree size by suppressing tree growth. Growth control of one year-old `Haralred' on MAC 9 `MARK' (dwarf) and EMLA 7 (semidwarf) rootstock was evaluated in the greenhouse. Uniconazole (65 or 130 mg/L) was sprayed 0, 1, 2 or 3 times at 3 week intervals. Total shoot growth was inhibited 31% and 24% on `MARK' and EMLA 7 rootstock, respectively, with 130 mg/L. Rootstock and scion diameter and number of leaves per tree were not affected by UCZ. Total leaf area on `MARK' rootstock increased when UCZ was applied once at 65 or 130 mg/L. On EMLA 7 two 130 mg/L sprays resulted in 22% less total leaf area compared to the control. UCZ applied three times reduced specific leaf weight on EMLA 7 trees 12% compared to the control. Branch angle was increased proportional to UCZ applications on semidwarf rootstock from 40° to 47°, and decreased on dwarf rootstock from 47° to 39°. Stomatal conductance increased 43% on `MARK' with 130 mg/L UCZ applied two times. Net photosynthesis of attached leaves did not differ. All UCZ treatments produced 18 to 56% fewer total flower clusters per tree than the control. UCZ appeared to delay bloom significantly.

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Sandra E. Vega-Semorile, John B. Bamberg, and Jiwan P. Palta

Frost damage to the foliage is a common problem where potatoes are grown, and results in significant reductions in tuber yield. Frost injury also limits the cultivation of high-yielding S. tuberosum cultivars in the mountain regions of Central and South America, where potato is a staple crop. Recent studies have shown that some wild potato species possess a high degree of non-acclimated frost tolerance (growing in normal conditions) as well as high cold acclimation capacity (able to increase frost tolerance upon exposure to cold). Natural frosts affecting potatoes are of two types: a) late spring or early fall frost, where the minimum temperature during the frost episode can be very low; b) frost during the growing season, where the minimum temperature during the frost episode is not as low. It is expected that potato species able to acclimate rapidly would survive better from the latter type of frosts, whereas species having higher acclimation capacity might have a great chance to survive better from the former type of frosts. The objective of this study was to find out if there is genetic variability for the speed of acclimation among different tuber-bearing wild potato species. The species used were: S. acaule, S. commersonii, S. megistacrolobum, S. multidissectum, S. polytrichon, S. sanctae-rosae, and S. toralapanum. Relative freezing tolerance of these species was measured during cold acclimation. Preliminary results suggest that there are differences in the speed of acclimation among these species. We found that these species can be divided into four groups: i) non-acclimators; ii) rapid acclimators, with low to medium acclimation capacity; iii) slow acclimators, with low to medium acclimation capacity; iv) slow acclimators, with high acclimation capacity. We plan to use this information in our breeding program aimed at improving the freezing tolerance of potatoes.