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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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Mustafa Ozgen, Senay Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta

Recent studies from our laboratory have demonstrated that lysophoshatidylethanolamine (LPE) is able to accelerate fruit ripening while at the same time promoting shelf life. LPE is a natural lipid and is commercially extracted from egg yolks and soybeans. We studied the influence of LPE on the pattern of anthocyanin accumulation and storage quality of cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. cultivar Stevens). For this purpose 2 x 2-m plots were established in cranberry beds at two separate locations near Wisconsin Rapids. Experiments were conducted in 1997 and 1998 seasons. Plots were sprayed with LPE (extracted from egg yolk and soybean) 3 to 4 weeks before harvest. Spray solution included 200 ppm LPE, 3% ethanol, and 0.1% detergents (either Tergitol or Sylguard). Fruit samples were taken from a part in the plot periodically to determine the changes in the fruit. The rest of the plots were commercially wet harvested with a machine and stored in cold storage. Marketable fruit were counted at various times of cold storage to determine effect of LPE on shelf life of cranberries. In general, application of LPE from both sources resulted in 20% to 35 % increase in fruit anthocyanin contents. Also LPE treatment resulted in 10% to 20% increase in marketable fruit in cold storage. A postharvest dip of cranberry fruit with 50 ppm LPE solution for 15 min also resulted in about a 20% to 30% increase in marketable berries during cold storage. The results of this study shows that pre- and postharvest applications of LPE can add value to cranberry crop including better and more uniform colored fruit, enhance self life, and earlier harvest.

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Senay Ozgen, Mustafa Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta

Several recent studies, including from our laboratory, have provided evidence that by improving tuber calcium level, we can improve tuber quality such as low internal defects and better storability. The purpose of this study was to be determine the influence of supplemental calcium fertilization on tuber size and tuber number. For this purpose, plantlets of Solanum tuberosum cv. Russet Burbank raised in tissue culture were planted in 20-L pots filled with sandy loam soil with pH of 6.9 and soil calcium level of 350 ppm. All treatments received same total amount of nitrogen (at the rate of 280 kg·ha–1). Five treatments were evaluated: i) nonsplit nitrogen (from ammonium nitrate), ii) split nitrogen (from ammonium nitrate), iii) split nitrogen + gypsum, iv) split nitrogen (from liquid nitrogen) + calcium chloride, and v) split nitrogen (from calcium nitrate). The total calcium was applied at the rate of 168 kg·ha–1. Gypsum application was made at 4 weeks after planting, and other sources of calcium were applied on a split schedule (equally split at 4, 6, 8 weeks after planting). Four months after planting, tubers were harvested and evaluated. In general, all calcium treatments had lower tuber number and greater tuber size compared to the nonsplit nitrogen control. The percentage of total A-grade tubers as well as the percentage yield from A-grade tubers was increased by all calcium applications. These results suggest that calcium content I the soil can influence both potato tuber number and tuber size.

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Matthew D. Kleinhenz and Jiwan P. Palta

Micropropagated `Red Norland' plants were transferred to an inert mixture of 1 perlite: 1 medium-grain quartzite (v/v) and grown 21 days at 20°C day/15°C night on a 25% Hoagland solution without Ca(NO3)2 (Ca at 10 mg·L–1 from CaCl2, N at 35 mg·L–1 from KNO3). Thereafter, Ca treatments (Ca at 0.2, 1, 5, 25, 125 mg·L–1) were imposed for 21 days with other nutrients unchanged. Day/night temperatures were 20/15°C and 35/20°C for control and stress plants, respectively. Continuous drip supply of nutrient solution in excess of demand maintained target rhizospheric Ca levels. All experiments were conducted in controlled-environment chambers with 400-μmol·m–2·s–1 light level. The following results were obtained. 1) Stress, but not control, plants grown with Ca at 0.2 and 1.0 mg·L–1 displayed reduced leaf expansion, extreme senescence, and death of the primary shoot meristem. 2) Plants grown with Ca at 5, 25 and 125 mg·L–1 grew normally under both temperature regimens, although plants responded to temperature with different biomass partitioning. (3) Total root mass at harvest was similar under all Ca–temperature combinations but low-Ca-treated plants had comparatively darker roots with fewer branches. (4) Light microscopic evaluation revealed normal staining patterns of lignified elements in leaves and stems of all plants. These data suggest that constant rhizospheric Ca levels >1 mg·L–1 are required for continued plant growth during exposure to heat stress.

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Beth Ann A. Workmaster and Jiwan P. Palta

Little is known about the growth and development of the cranberry plant (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) in response to air and soil temperatures in the spring. During this period, marked changes in cranberry bud hardiness are known to occur (from –20 to 0 °C), with the greatest changes occuring before bud elongation. The ability to predict changes in bud phenology and hardiness in relation to thermal time would be useful to growers in making frost management decisions. To establish a working growth model, canopy air and soil temperatures were continuously recorded in 1996, 1997, and 1998 in a cranberry bed (cv. Stevens) in central Wisconsin. In spring, samples of uprights were randomly collected from several locations within the bed and sorted according to a nine stage bud classification from tight bud to bloom. Controlled freezing tests were performed on uprights from the most advanced stages present that constituted 10% or more of a sample on a given date. Heat units were calculated from hourly canopy air temperatures. Despite the varied weather conditions over the3 years, a distinct relationship existed between the accumulation of heat units and the advancement of the crop. Spring 1998 was very early and resulted in the accumulation of more heat units before initial and advanced bud swell was observed compared to the other 2 years. Initial evaluation suggests that soil temperatures between 5 to 10 °C and photoperiod may play a role in modulating the effect of air temperatures. Further refinement of this model and the predictive value for frost hardiness changes will be discussed.

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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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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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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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Laurie S. Weiss, John B. Bamberg, and Jiwan P. Palta

Solanum acaule (acl) and Solanum commersonii (cmm) represent the extremes of frost tolerance and cold acclimation ability among potato species. We have combined these species with cultivated S. tuberosum (tbr) to develop a potato with desired tuber traits and a high degree of frost tolerance. For this purpose diploid cmm was made 4x and crossed with naturally 4x acl. The F1 and F2 appear to exhibit hybrid vigor for vine growth for flowering, but none had frost tolerance greater than the parents. The F1 and F2 were crossed with S. tuberosum ssp. andigena and Katahdin via 2n eggs resulting in 6x 3-way hybrids. These hybrids were evaluated both in the field and laboratory for frost tolerance and acclimation ability. Results showed an increase of 1°C of frost tolerance and 2°C increase in cold acclimation capacity in the hybrids as compared to the sensitive tbr parents. Some of the 6x (3-way) hybrids produced significant tubers but yield and earliness needs much improvement. These results demonstrate that it should be possible to move both non acclimated freezing tolerance and cold acclimation ability from wild to cultivated species and offer exciting opportunities to enhance potato production in frost prone areas in the world.

Supported by USDA/NRI grant 91-3700-6636 to J.P.P. and J.B.B..

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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.