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Liyuan Huang, Jun Yuan, Hui Wang, Xiaofeng Tan, and Genhua Niu

High concentration of aluminum ion (Al3+) in acidic soil often negatively affects plant growth. To deepen understanding of the mechanisms of physiological response to Aluminum (Al) toxicity, changes in physiology and cell ultrastructure of oil tea (Camellia oleifera) were investigated under different Al levels. Oil tea plants were grown in pots filled with sand and treated with Al at 0, 0.5, 1.25, 2.0, or 4.0 mm. Results showed that Al at 0.5–2.0 mm improved plant growth, whereas Al at 4.0 mm inhibited root growth and damaged cell ultrastructure. Net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g s), transpiration rate (Tr), and photochemical efficiency increased as Al concentration increased from 0 to 2.0 mm; however, all parameters mentioned previously decreased at 4.0 mm. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT) in leaves treated with 2.0 mm Al reached the maximum, which were 29%, 63%, and 28% higher than that of control. When Al was ≤2.0 mm, the content of soluble sugar and soluble protein increased with increasing Al concentration. These results may indicate that oil tea adapted to Al stress through osmotic adjustment and through increasing antioxidant enzyme system. In summary, Al at low concentration (0.5–2.0 mm) improved growth and physiological performance, whereas 4.0 mm negatively impacted performance of oil tea.

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

The decline of garden rose sales over the past 20 years can be partially attributed to the lack of material adapted to a wide range of landscapes, which includes adaptation to high temperature stress. Current methods for evaluating high temperature susceptibility in garden roses are based on field observations, which are time consuming and subjected to ever-changing environmental conditions. A series of experiments were conducted to optimize protocols and compare the use of chlorophyll fluorescence (CFL) and cell membrane thermostability (MTS) by way of electrolyte leakage as methods to screen for high temperature susceptibility. Immature leaves proved better than mature leaves for both CFL and MTS measurements, using either detached leaf or whole plant stress assays. MTS measured on immature leaves stressed in a water bath at 50 °C for 45 minutes proved most consistent in separating rose clones based on high temperature susceptibility. Stressing actively growing plants with flower buds of 2 mm in diameter in a heat chamber at 44 °C for 3 hours resulted in increased flower abscission and leaf necrotic lesions on more susceptible clones when compared with those that were heat tolerant. Combining MTS measurements from immature leaves stressed in a water bath with the flower abscission and leaf necrosis responses 10 days after stress in a heat chamber could be the first step to screen and select against the more susceptible clones in a garden rose breeding program. Power analyses suggest that the proposed MTS protocol would be efficient in detecting differences between clones when the difference in electrolyte leakage is greater than 10%.

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Genhua Niu, Pedro Osuna, Youping Sun, and Denise S. Rodriguez

Ornamental chile peppers are popular bedding plants. As high-quality water supply becomes limited in many parts of the world, alternative waters such as municipal reclaimed water is encouraged to be used for landscape irrigation. The purpose of this study was to assess the relative salt tolerance of 10 cultivars of ornamental chile peppers by irrigating the mature plants with saline solutions and germinating seeds in saline substrate in a greenhouse. In the mature plant salt tolerance experiment, plants were irrigated with nutrient solution (no addition of salts, control) or saline solution at electrical conductance (EC) of 4.1 dS·m−1 or 8.1 dS·m−1 for 8 weeks. Plants in the EC of 4.1 dS·m−1 treatment did not have any foliar salt damage regardless of cultivar. At EC of 8.1 dS·m−1, ‘NuMex Memorial Day’ had the most severe foliar salt damage, whereas ‘NuMex April Fool’s Day’, ‘NuMex Cinco de Mayo’, ‘NuMex Thanksgiving’, and ‘NuMex Twilight’ had little or no foliar damage. Shoot dry weight (DW) reduction at EC of 8.1 dS·m−1 compared with control was smallest in ‘NuMex Thanksgiving’ (15%), whereas ‘NuMex Memorial Day’ had the greatest reduction of 74% followed by ‘NuMex Christmas’ of 61%. The highest shoot DW reduction in ‘NuMex Memorial Day’ coincided with lowest visual score, indicating that this cultivar was the least tolerant to salinity. The leaf Na+ and Cl concentrations increased dramatically with increasing EC of the irrigation water in all cultivars. The highest Na+ concentration of 10.9 mg·g−1 DW at EC of 8.1 dS·m−1 was observed in ‘NuMex Christmas’. The highest Cl concentration at EC of 8.1 dS·m−1 was found in ‘NuMex Memorial Day’ with 64.8 mg·g−1 DW, which was four times higher than the control. In the seedling emergence experiment, seeds of the 10 cultivars were germinated in substrate either moistened with reverse osmosis water (EC ≈0) or saline solution at EC of 17.1 dS·m−1. ‘NuMex Christmas’ and ‘NuMex Memorial Day’ had the lowest relative seedling emergence index, indicating that these two cultivars were the least tolerant to salinity during the seedling emergence stage. ‘NuMex Thanksgiving’ and ‘NuMex Cinco de Mayo’ had the highest relative seedling emergence index. Combining the results from both experiments, we concluded that ‘NuMex Cinco de Mayo’ and ‘NuMex Thanksgiving’ were the most tolerant cultivars, whereas ‘NuMex Christmas’ and ‘NuMex Memorial Day’ were the least tolerant ones.

Open access

Qiang Liu, Youping Sun, James Altland, and Genhua Niu

Tatarian dogwood (Cornus alba) is an ornamental shrub with white fruits, creamy-white flowers, and red stems in fall through late winter and is widely used in residential landscape, public parks, and botanical gardens. Two greenhouse experiments were conducted to characterize the survival, morphological, aesthetic, and physiological responses of tatarian dogwood seedlings to salinity and drought stresses. In Expt. 1, tatarian dogwood seedlings grown in three soilless growing substrates (Metro-Mix 360, 560, and 902) were irrigated with a nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solution (by adding calculated amount of sodium chloride and calcium chloride) at an EC of 5.0 or 10.0 dS·m−1 once per week for 8 weeks. Results showed that substrate did not influence the growth of tatarian dogwood seedling. All plants irrigated with saline solutions at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1 died, whereas those irrigated with saline solutions at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 exhibited severe foliar salt damage with an average visual score of 1.0 (on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 = dead and 5 = excellent without foliar salt damage). Compared with the control, saline solutions at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 reduced plant height and shoot dry weight (DW) by 50.8% and 55.2%, respectively. Relative chlorophyll content [soil plant analysis development (SPAD) reading], chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm), and net photosynthesis rate (Pn) also decreased when plants were irrigated with saline solutions at an EC of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m−1. Leaf sodium (Na+) concentration of tatarian dogwood seedlings irrigated with saline solutions at an EC of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m−1 increased 11 and 40 times, respectively, compared with the control, whereas chloride (Cl-) concentration increased 25 and 33 times, respectively. In Expt. 2, tatarian dogwood seedlings were irrigated at a substrate volumetric water contents (volume of water/volume of substrate, VWC) of 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, 40%, or 45% using a sensor-based automated irrigation system for 60 days. Results showed that drought stress decreased plant growth of tatarian dogwood seedlings with a reduction of 71%, 85%, and 87% in plant height, leaf area, and shoot DW, respectively, when VWC decreased from 45% to 15%, but all plants survived at all VWC treatments. Significant reductions of photosynthesis (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), transpiration rate (E), and water potential were also found in plants at a VWC of 15%, compared with other VWCs. However, SPAD readings and Fv/Fm of tatarian dogwood seedlings were similar among the VWCs. In conclusion, tatarian dogwood seedlings were sensitive to the salinity levels tested in this study but could survive at all tested substrate volumetric water contents and exhibited resistance to drought conditions.

Free access

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

The influence of daily light integral (DLI) before vernalization and vernalization temperature and duration on growth and flower development was determined for seed-propagated perennials Aquilegia ×hybrida Sims `Remembrance', Coreopsis grandiflora Hogg ex Sweet `Sunray', and Lavandula angustifolia Mill. `Hidcote Blue'. Seedlings were grown under two DLIs (4 or 14 mol·m-2·d-l) for 5 weeks before being vernalized at -2.5, 0, 2.5, or 5 °C for 2,4,5, or 8 weeks. `Remembrance' and `Sunray' plants were vernalized in the dark, while `Hidcote Blue' plants were vernalized in light at 5 to 10 μmol·m-2·s-l for 9 hourslday. After vernalization, plants were forced under a 16-h photoperiod in the greenhouse at 20±2 °C. `Remembrance' plants flowered uniformly when vernalized at 0 to 2.5 °C for 2 weeks or longer, and flower number, plant height, time to visible bud or to flower were generally not influenced by vernalization temperature or duration. No `Sunray' plants flowered without vernalization, and only a low percentage flowered with 4-week vernalization. Compared with low DLI, a 14 mol·m-2·d-1 before vernalization delayed flowering by 7 to 20 days in `Remembrance', but there were no substantial differences in flowering characteristics of `Sunray'. `Hidcote Blue' plants were best vernalized in the light at 5 °C for 8 weeks to obtain rapid and uniform flowering and the highest number of inflorescences. Flowering and survival percentages of `Hidcote Blue' were much lower for plants at 14 mol·m-2·d-l DLI compared to 4 mol·m-2·d-1.

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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.

Free access

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.

Free access

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

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Summer-green) plug transplants were grown for 3 weeks under 16 combinations of four levels (100, 150, 200, and 300 μmol·m-2·s-1) of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), two photoperiods (16 and 24 h), and two levels of CO2 (400 and 800 μmol·mol-1) in growth chambers maintained at an air temperature of 20 ±2 °C. As PPF increased, dry mass (DM), percent DM, and leaf number increased, while ratio of shoot to root dry mass (S/R), ratio of leaf length to leaf width (LL/LW), specific leaf area, and hypocotyl length decreased. At the same PPF, DM was increased by 25% to 100% and 10% to 100% with extended photoperiod and elevated CO2 concentration, respectively. Dry mass, percent DM, and leaf number increased linearly with daily light integral (DLI, the product of PPF and photoperiod), while S/R, specific leaf area, LL/LW and hypocotyl length decreased as DLI increased under each CO2 concentration. Hypocotyl length was influenced by PPF and photoperiod, but not by CO2 concentration. Leaf morphology, which can be reflected by LL/LW, was substantially influenced by PPF at 100 to 200 μmol·m-2·s-1, but not at 200 to 300 μmol·m-2·s-1. At the same DLI, the longer photoperiod promoted growth under the low CO2 concentration, but not under the high CO2 concentration. Longer photoperiod and/or higher CO2 concentration compensated for a low PPF.

Free access

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.

Free access

Min Lin, Terri W. Starman, Yin-Tung Wang, and Genhua Niu

The flowering time and flower quality of three hybrid Dendrobium nobile cultivars in relation to light intensity during cooling and duration of vernalization were studied in the first experiment. Mature Dendrobium Red Emperor ‘Prince’, Den. Sea Mary ‘Snow King’, and Den. Love Memory ‘Fizz’ plants were vernalized at 10 °C under 300 to 350 μmol·m−2·s−1 photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) (12-h photoperiod) or darkness, each with four cooling durations (2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks). Plants were forced in a greenhouse after vernalization. At least 4 weeks of 10 °C cooling in light was needed for complete flower initiation of Den. Red Emperor ‘Prince’, whereas Den. Sea Mary ‘Snow King’ and Den. Love Memory ‘Fizz’ only needed 2 weeks of 10 °C cooling regardless of light. For all three cultivars, darkness during vernalization slightly delayed flowering and resulted in fewer but larger flowers. Longer cooling duration delayed flowering, decreased flower longevity, and produced more and larger flowers. In a second experiment, Den. Love Memory ‘Fizz’ plants were vernalized at 15 °C for 4 weeks under a 12-h photoperiod and PPF of 0, 50, 100, or 200 μmol·m−2·s−1. Compared with 200 μmol·m−2·s−1, low PPF at 50 or 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 did not affect flowering time or flower qualities; however, darkness delayed flowering and reduced flower qualities except flower diameter.