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Zejin Zhang, Dongxian He, Genhua Niu, and Rongfu Gao

Dendrobium officinale, endemic to China, is a rare and endangered medicinal herb. As a result of its high economic value, slow growth, and diminishing wild population, protected cultivation is preferred. However, little information is available on its growing environment and photosynthetic characteristics. In this study, the photosynthetic patterns of D. officinale were investigated under various environmental conditions by measuring the net CO2 exchange rates continuously for several days or weeks. Under non-stressed growth chamber conditions with 12-hour light and 12-hour dark periods, D. officinale had concomitance of C3 and crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis patterns. Different degrees of CAM in D. officinale, expressed as the percentage of CO2 exchanges in the dark period to the daily amount of CO2 exchanges, were observed depending on environmental conditions. With decreasing substrate water content, a typical CAM pattern was found, and concomitance of C3 and CAM patterns was found again when plants were rewatered. The accumulation of leaf titratable acidity during a dark period increased as substrate dried out but decreased again as plants were rewatered. A shorter light–dark cycle (4-hour light and 4-hour dark periods) led to a C3 pattern alone. The substrate moisture and light–dark cycle were inducible factors for switching between C3 and CAM patterns in D. officinale. These results indicate that D. officinale is a facultative CAM plant and the C3 pathway can be induced by controlling the growing environment. Further studies are needed to identify the optimal environmental conditions to enhance the growth of D. officinale.

Open access

Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, Haijie Dou, Christina Perez, and Lisa Alexander

Hydrangeas are popular landscape plants that are widely grown in many parts of the world. The objective of this study was to evaluate the salinity tolerance of three novel Dichroa ×hydrangea hybrids [Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yamaguchi Hardy’ × Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hamburg’ (YH × Hamburg), Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yellow Wings’ ×Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nigra’ (YW × Nigra), and Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yellow Wings’ ×Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Oakhill’ (YW × Oakhill)]. A 52-day greenhouse study was conducted by irrigating container-grown plants with nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.1 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 (EC 5) or 10.0 dS·m−1 (EC 10). At harvest, YH × Hamburg and YW × Nigra in EC 5 and EC 10 still exhibited good quality with average visual scores greater than 4.1 (0 = dead; 5 = excellent). For YW × Oakhill, moderate foliar salt damage was observed with an average visual score of 2.9 in EC 5 and 2.2 in EC 10. Compared with control, the shoot dry weight of YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill in EC 5 reduced by 35%, 35%, and 55%, respectively, whereas that in EC 10 decreased by 58%, 58%, and 67%, respectively. Elevated salinity also decreased plant height, leaf area, and leaf greenness [Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD) readings]; chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm); performance index (PI); and net photosynthetic rate (Pn). All these responses might result from excess accumulation of sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) ions in hydrangea leaves. In this study, compared with control, leaf Na+ concentration of YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill increased 11, 36, and 14 times, respectively, in EC 5, and 31, 53, and 18 times, respectively, in EC 10. Compared with control, leaf Cl concentration increased 4, 9, and 7 times in EC 5, and 10, 11, and 8 times in EC 10 for YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill, respectively. Leaf nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K+), and iron (Fe3+) concentrations decreased at elevated salinity levels but did not cause any nutrient deficiency. In summary, the three Dichroa ×hydrangea hybrids exhibited different salinity tolerance: YH × Hamburg and YW × Nigra were more tolerant than YW × Oakhill. Salt-tolerant hydrangea hybrids should be chosen for landscape use if soil and/or irrigation water are salty.

Full access

Genhua Niu, Raul I. Cabrera, Terri W. Starman, and Charles R. Hall

Significance and objectives

Many communities in Texas and other states are facing water shortages and water quality issues (poor or marginal water quality). A tremendous population growth in many southern states is also putting a strain on their water supplies and creating a worrisome competition between urban and agricultural activities. Future drought is unpredictable, and some regions have encountered extended and devastating drought periods in the past years. In addition, intensive agricultural operations like nurseries and greenhouses are under pressure to conserve water and minimize fertilizer- and chemical-laden water drainages and runoff effluents (Briggs et al., 1998;

Free access

Genhua Niu, Royal D. Heins, Arthur C. Cameron, and William H. Carlson

Flower size generally decreases as temperature increases. The objective of this research was to investigate during development when flowers of Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' and `Birch Hybrid' are sensitive to temperature by conducting two temperature-transfer experiments. In the first experiment, plants were grown initially at 20 °C and then transferred at visible bud to 14, 17, 20, 23, or 26 °C until flower. In the second experiment, plants were transferred from 14 to 26 °C or from 26 to 14 °C at 1, 3, or 5 weeks (`Blue Clips') or at 1, 2, or 3 weeks (`Birch Hybrid') after flower induction. Temperature before visible bud had little effect on final flower size for both species. For example, flower diameter of `Blue Clips' was similar among plants grown at constant 14 °C or grown at 20 °C initially and then transferred at visible bud to 14 or 17 °C. Similarly, flower diameter of plants grown at constant 26 °C was similar to those grown at 20 °C initially and then transferred at visible bud to 26 °C. Flower diameter in these species is correlated with the temperature after VB in the 14 to 26 °C and decreases linearly as the temperature after VB increases.

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Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, Kevin Crosby, Daniel Leskovar, and John Jifon

Chile peppers are economically important crops in southern regions of the United States. Limited information is available on irrigation management with low-quality water or on salt-affected soils. The objective of this study was to determine the relative salt tolerance of 20 genotypes of chile peppers. In Expt. 1, seeds of selected pepper types (Anaheim, Ancho, Cayenne, Paprika, Jalapeño, Habanero, and Serrano) were germinated in potting mix and seedlings were grown in 2.6-L pots. Six weeks after sowing, salinity treatments were initiated by irrigating plants with nutrient solutions of different electrical conductivities (ECs): 1.4 (control), 3.0, or 6.0 dS·m−1. After 1 month of initiating treatments, shoots were harvested and dry weights were determined. All plants survived and no visual salt injury was observed regardless of pepper variety and treatment. There were no statistical differences between control and saline solution treatments in final height and shoot dry weight of Habanero 1, ‘Early Jalapeño’, ‘AZ-20’, ‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’, and ‘NuMex Sandia’. In Expt. 2, seeds of 20 genotypes were directly sown in 2.6-L containers filled with loamy sand. Saline water irrigation was initiated 37 days after sowing by irrigating plants either with saline (nutrient solution based, similar to Expt. 1) or nutrient solution (control). More than half the genotypes did not have 100% survival in the salinity treatment. Ancho 1, Ancho 2, Cayenne 1, ‘Early Jalapeño’, and ‘AZ-20’ had 100% survival regardless of salinity treatment. No plants of ‘TAM Mild Habanero’ survived when irrigated with saline water and less than half of the plants survived in the control. The relative tolerance of chile genotypes to salinity varied with substrate in some genotypes. From the combined results of the two experiments, the 20 pepper genotypes were ranked for salt tolerance based on seedling survival, visual quality, and growth. ‘Early Jalapeño’ and ‘AZ-20’ were relatively tolerant to salinity among the 20 genotypes, whereas ‘TAM Mild Habanero’ and ‘Ben Villalon’ were sensitive. Ancho 1, Ancho 2, Cayenne 1, and Cayenne 2 also had relatively high tolerance based on survival and visual quality, although shoot growth was reduced significantly.

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Qiang Liu, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, James Altland, Lifei Chen, and Lijuan Jiang

Because of limited supply of high-quality water, alternative water sources have been used for irrigation in water-scarce regions. However, alternative waters usually contain high salt levels, which can cause salt damage on salt-sensitive plants. A greenhouse study was conducted to evaluate the relative salt tolerance of 10 common ornamental taxa to saline water irrigation. The 10 taxa studied were Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Orange Storm’ and ‘Pink Storm’ (Chaenomeles Double Take); Diervilla rivularis ‘G2X885411’, ‘G2X88544’ (Diervilla Kodiak®, Black, Orange, and Red, respectively), and ‘Smndrsf’; Forsythia ×intermedia ‘Mindor’ (Forsythia Show Off®); Hibiscus syriacus ‘ILVOPS’ (Hibiscus Purple Satin®); Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Smhmtau’ and ‘Smnhmsigma’ (Hydrangea Let’s Dance® Blue Jangles® and Rave, respectively); and Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Troki’ (Parthenociss quinquefolia Red Wall®). Plants were irrigated with a nutrient solution at an 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) eight times on a weekly basis. The results indicated that the 10 ornamental taxa had different morphological and physiological responses to salinity. The C. speciosa and D. rivularis plants in EC 5 had severe salt foliar damage, whereas those in EC 10 were dead. Hibiscus syriacus ‘ILVOPS’ performed well in EC 5 treatment with a shoot dry weight (DW) reduction of 26%, but those in EC 10 had severe foliar salt damage. Hydrangea macrophylla, F. ×intermedia ‘Mindor’ and P. quinquefolia ‘Troki’ were the most salt tolerant with minor foliar salt damage. The two H. macrophylla cultivars had the highest shoot sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) concentrations with a visual quality of 3 (scale 0 to 5 with 0 for dead plants and 5 for excellent performance), indicating that H. macrophylla plants adapted to elevated salinity by tolerating high Na and Cl concentrations in leaf tissue. Forsythia ×intermedia ‘Mindor’ and P. quinquefolia ‘Troki’ had relatively low leaf Na and Cl concentration, indicating that both taxa are capable of excluding Na and Cl. Chaenomeles speciosa and D. rivularis were sensitive to salinity with great growth reduction, severe foliar salt damage, and high Na and Cl accumulation in leaf tissue.

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Raul I. Cabrera, L. Rahman, Genhua Niu, Cynthia McKenney, and Wayne Mackay

In this preliminary study, we evaluated the salinity tolerance of selected herbaceous perennials. Liners of Rudbeckia hirta `Becky Orange', Phlox paniculata `John Fanick', Coreopsis grandiflora `Early Sunrise', Lantana ×hybrida `New Gold' and Cuphea hyssopifolia `Allyson' were transplanted to 4-gal plastic containers filled with peat moss: pine bark: sand (3:1:1) medium amended with dolomite, Micromax and Osmocote 18-6-12 (at 2, 0.6, and 6 kg·m3, respectively). The plants were irrigated for 14 weeks with tap water containing 0, 1.5, 3, 6, 12, and 24 mM of NaCl: CaCl2 salt mixture (2:1 molar ratio). Increasing salt stress had differential effects on plant growth and quality, with Rudbeckia and Phlox being the most adversely affected even by the lowest salt treatment of 1.5 mM, with dry weight reductions of ∼25% compared to the controls. Conversely, Lantana and Cuphea tolerated extremely well salinity up to 12 mM, where dry weight reductions were less than 10% of the nonsalinized controls. The Lantana and Cuphea plants also presented the lowest leaf Cl accumulation with increasing salinity, whereas Coreopsis showed the highest Cl accumulations at any salinity level. Plots of leaf Cl concentration against dry weights showed steeply declining relationships for Rudbeckia and Phlox plants, confirming our observations and assessment that these species are to be considered salt-sensitive. Leaf Na accumulation is currently being analyzed.

Free access

Huan Xiong, He Sun, Feng Zou, Xiaoming Fan, Genhua Niu, and Deyi Yuan

Castanea henryi is an important woody grain tree species native to China. The objective of the current study was to find the suitable plant growth regulators (PGRs) and the optimal concentrations for direct organogenesis by using axillary shoots and cotyledonary nodes. Seeds were collected from the field, sterilized, and germinated in vitro. Axillary shoots and cotyledonary nodes of 3-week-old seedlings were used as explants. To find the suitable PGR for adventitious shoot induction, 0.5 mg·L–1 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA), 0.1 mg·L–1 indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), 0.1 mg·L–1 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), or 0.1 mg·L–1 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) was supplemented to Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium containing 0.65% agar and 3% sucrose. A high induction percentage of adventitious shoots (85.67%) was obtained from cotyledonary nodes supplemented with 0.1 mg·L–1 2,4-D. The type of explant influenced shoot proliferation rates and quality. Apical explants produced more and longer shoots than nodal segments. For shoot multiplication, 1 mg·L–1 6-BA + 0.05 mg·L–1 indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) supplemented with MS medium produced 12.33 and 6.25 shoots per explant, respectively, from apical and nodal explants. For shoot elongation and strengthening, 2 mg·L–1 6-BA + 0.05 mg·L–1 IBA supplemented with MS medium was the best combination, producing shoots with a mean length of 3.50 cm, a diameter of 0.46 cm, and about eight leaves per shoot. The greatest rooting of 76.70% and 11.33 roots per shoot was achieved when cultured in MS medium supplemented with 3.5% perlite + 1.5 mg·L–1 IBA. For acclimatization of the rooted plantlets in the greenhouse, a survival rate of 80% was achieved. This protocol—from multiplication to acclimation—is helpful to realize mass propagation of high-quality trees of chinquapin for increasing production and nut quality.

Free access

Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, Raul I. Cabrera, Cynthia McKenney, and Wayne Mackay

Relatively little work has been done to determine the water requirements of ornamental plants. To meet this need, five woody ornamental species including Abelia grandiflora `Edward Goucher', Buddleia davidii `Burgundy', Ilex vomitoria `Pride of Houston', Euonymus japonica, and Nerium oleander `Hardy Pink' were investigated to determine their water use and crop coefficients. Parallel experiments were conducted by growing the shrubs both in 56-L (15 gal) drainage lysimeters and in aboveground 10-L containers. Water use per plant, crop coefficients, and overall growth parameters differed by species and culture system. Of the five species tested, Buddleia and Nerium had higher water use per plant in the lysimeters than in the containers. There was no significant difference in water use per plant for Abelia, Euonymus, and Ilex between the two culture systems. Crop coefficients and growth indices of Abelia, Euonymus, and Ilex were statistically similar between the two systems. The growth index of Buddleia and Nerium was much higher in the lysimeters than in the containers. Abelia and Euonymus had more growth in the containers than in the lysimeters while Ilex had slightly larger leaf area in the lysimeters than in the containers. The culture system did not affect the water use per unit leaf area of all species. Therefore, our results indicated that by quantifying the leaf area, the plant water use in the two culture systems is convertible.

Free access

Xi Wang, Genhua Niu, Mengmeng Gu, Paul A. Baumann, and Joseph Masabni

Mustard Seed Meals (MSMs) are by-products of biodiesel and an alternative to conventional herbicides for organic farming. However, MSMs might also suppress the emergence of vegetable seedlings. The objective of this study was to determine the response of vegetable seedling emergence to different MSM types and rates applied as an alternative herbicide. Six types of vegetable seeds, onion (Allium cepa), two cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ and ‘Buttercrunch’), mustard (Brassica juncea), kale (Brassica oleracea), and Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. japonica), were sowed in petri dishes containing germination mix. MSMs (Sinapis alba ‘IdaGold’ and B. juncea ‘Pacific Gold’) were incorporated into the germination mix at 0, 88, 176, or 265 g·m−2. Petri dishes were sealed for 1, 3, 5, or 7 days after sowing. For onion, ‘Pacific Gold’ had a greater suppressive effect on seedling emergence than ‘IdaGold’. For kale and mustard, ‘IdaGold’ and ‘Pacific Gold’ had similar suppressive effects on seedling emergence, but ‘Pacific Gold’ delayed emergence of kale at 88 g·m−2 when sealed for 3, 5, and 7 days. For Mizuna, ‘IdaGold’ had more suppressive effects than ‘Pacific Gold’ on seedling emergence, while sealing delayed but did not decrease emergence percentage (EP) at the lower rate (88 g·m−2) compared with the control treatment. For ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce, there were no differences in the suppressive effects between the two MSMs. For ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ lettuce, ‘Pacific Gold’ had more suppressive effects on seedling emergence than ‘IdaGold’ when sealed at the lower rate (88 g·m−2) for longer durations (7 days) or at higher rates (176 and 265 g·m−2) for shorter durations (1 and 3 days). These results suggest that MSMs might suppress vegetable seedling emergence when applied at high rates (176 and 265 g·m−2), and sealing for more than 7 days after sowing may strengthen the suppressive effect. Extending sealing duration at the medium rates could achieve similar weed control results to high rates without sealing.