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Zhanao Deng*, Brent K. Harbaugh, Rick Kelly, Teresa Seijo, and Robert J. McGovern

Caladiums (Caladium × hortulanum) are widely grown for their bright colorful leaves. Pythium root rot, caused primarily by P. myriotylum, is one of the most important diseases in caladiums. This disease can dramatically reduce plant growth, impact plant aesthetical value, and lower tuber yield. Pythium infection in the roots may also lead to subsequent entry of Fusarium into tubers resulting in tuber rot. There has been a strong interest in the tuber production and greenhouse plant production industries to identify cultivars that are resistant or tolerant to Pythium. However, few studies have been conducted since the pathogen was identified, and little information is available regarding the existence of any possible resistance in commercial cultivars. Pythium isolates were made from diseased plants collected from different sites; their pathogenicity was confirmed using tissue culture-derived plants. Procedures were developed for oogonia spore production, inoculation, and disease severity assessment. Nineteen major commercial cultivars were inoculated at two spore densities and then maintained in greenhouses under growing conditions favorable for root rotting. Plant appearance, leaf characteristics and severity of root rotting were evaluated 2-3 times after inoculation. Observations indicated that the isolates were highly virulent. They induced visible root rot within 3-5 days, and caused a complete loss of the root system and plant death for some cultivars within 2-3 weeks after inoculation. Several cultivars, including `Candidum' and `Frieda Hemple' which are widely grown cultivars, had much less root rot, higher plant survival, and seemed to have moderate levels of resistance.

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Zhanao Deng, Brent K. Harbaugh, Rick O. Kelly, Teresa Seijo, and Robert J. McGovern

Caladiums (Caladium ×hortulanum) are popular ornamental plants widely grown for their bright colorful leaves. Pythium root rot, caused by Pythium myriotylum, is one of the few soil-borne diseases in caladium that dramatically reduces plant growth, aesthetic value, and tuber yield. Information on the reaction of caladium cultivars to P. myriotylum is not available, but would be valuable for integrated control of this disease and for breeding new resistant cultivars. Three Pythium isolates obtained from decaying roots of plants collected from a field production site and two greenhouses were evaluated for pathogenicity and potential use in experiments to screen commercial caladium cultivars for resistance. All three isolates were found to be highly virulent; they were able to cause obvious root rotting within 3 to 5 days and severe root rotting and leaf losses on susceptible cultivars within 10 days after inoculation. Nineteen major commercial cultivars were evaluated for their resistance to these isolates. Fifteen of the cultivars were susceptible or highly susceptible to Pythium infection. Four widely grown cultivars, `Candidum', `Candidum Jr.', `Frieda Hemple', and `White Christmas', were found to have a moderate level of resistance (partial resistance) to pythium root rot. Pythium infection also caused leaf discoloration, epinasty, wilting, and collapse. Regression analyses revealed a linear relationship between the root rot and leaf loss severity on Pythium-inoculated plants.

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Fahrettin Goktepe, Teresa Seijo, Zhanao Deng, Brent K. Harbaugh, Natalia A. Peres, and Robert J. McGovern

Fusarium tuber rot, incited by Fusarium solani, is the major cause of losses of tuber quality and quantity in caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum) during storage and production. To develop a reliable inoculation method for evaluating cultivar susceptibility to Fusarium tuber rot and identifying sources of resistance, the effect of temperature on the mycelial growth of F. solani in vitro and on tuber rot in vivo was examined. The optimal temperature was then used to study the aggressiveness of F. solani isolates. The effect of temperature (13, 18, 23, 28, and 33 °C) on radial mycelial growth of nine F. solani isolates in vitro was determined, and all responded similarly to temperature variables, with optimal growth predicted to be at 30.5 °C. The relationship of these temperatures to disease development was then determined for the most aggressive F. solani isolate 05-20 and it was found that disease development in inoculated tubers was greatest at low temperatures (13 and 18 °C). Cold damage to tubers was observed at 13 °C; therefore, 18 °C was chosen for all future disease screening. The aggressiveness of nine isolates was tested on two caladium cultivars. Significant differences among isolates were observed for the diameter of rotted tissue in both cultivars, indicating that choice of isolate was important for screening. Isolates 05-20 and 05-257 were highly aggressive on both cultivars. Tubers of 17 commercial caladium cultivars were inoculated with three isolates (04-03, 05-20, and 05-527) and incubated at 18 °C. The interaction between isolates and cultivars was highly significant (P < 0.0001), indicating that cultivars were not equally susceptible to different pathogenic isolates of F. solani. Lesion diameters differed significantly (P < 0.0001) among cultivars/isolates and ranged from 9.5 mm (‘Rosebud’ and ‘White Christmas’ for isolate 04-03) to 23.9 mm (‘Carolyn Whorton’ for isolate 05-20). The cultivars were ranked for susceptibility to tuber rot within each isolate and the normalized total rank for the three isolates was used to place cultivars into four categories: resistant (‘Candidum’, ‘Rosebud’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Florida Sweetheart’, and ‘Aaron’), moderately resistant (‘White Wing’ and ‘Red Flash’), susceptible (‘Candidum Jr.’, ‘White Queen’, ‘Red Frill’, ‘Florida Cardinal’, ‘Miss Muffet’, and ‘Postman Joyner’), and highly susceptible (‘Fannie Munson’, ‘Gingerland’, ‘Frieda Hemple’, and ‘Carolyn Whorton’). The availability of these sources of host plant resistance, aggressive isolates, and resistance assessment techniques will facilitate the development of new Fusarium-resistant caladium cultivars.

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Zhanao Deng, Brent K. Harbaugh, Rick O. Kelly, Teresa Seijo, and Robert J. McGovern

Caladiums (Caladium ×hortulanum) are widely grown as pot or landscape plants for their attractive leaves. Pythium root rot (Pythium myriotylum) is one of the most damaging diseases in caladium, severely reducing plant growth, aesthetic value, and tuber yield. Twenty-three commercial cultivars were inoculated with three aggressive isolates of P. myriotylum and evaluated for their resistance to root rot. Three cultivars, `Apple Blossom', `Blizzard', and `Etta Moore', were found to have a moderate level of resistance (partial resistance) to pythium root rot. The rest of these cultivars were susceptible or highly susceptible to Pythium infection, losing up to 94% of their root tissue to rotting within 10 days after inoculation. Data indicated a linear relationship between root rot severity and leaf loss severity on Pythium-inoculated plants and highlight the importance of controlling pythium root rot in caladium pot plant and tuber production. Comparison of some recent releases with their parents for pythium root rot resistance suggests the potential of developing new resistant caladium cultivars using the identified sources of resistance.

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Richard O. Kelly, Zhanao Deng, Brent K. Harbaugh, and Rick K. Schoellhorn

Florida is one of the top wholesale producers of bedding plants, and in 2003 was ranked fourth in annual bedding plant production and fifth in potted pansy/viola production. Evaluation of pansy cultivars is vital for continued growth of the industry. We evaluated 210 cultivars of pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana) (164 new cultivars) in replicated class tests at the University of Florida's Gulf Coast Research and Education Center at Bradenton, Fla., from 2000–04 to determine the best-of-class and use them in future trials to compare against new entries in the same class. In this report, we provide objective plant measurements of vegetative and floral characteristics as well as subjective performance ratings. Subjective ratings were on a 1 to 7 scale with the highest rating of 7 for excellent. In general, overall performance ratings (combined foliage, flower, arthropod, and disease ratings) ≥5.5 were considered outstanding. Pansy cultivars were grouped into classes based on flower color and pattern. Best-of-class selections that had an outstanding overall performance rating in one or more contested trials, never falling below 5.0 in other contested trials, were: (black class) `Accord/Banner Black Beauty', (blue shades/tints class) `Nature Blue', (blue with blotch class) `Nature Ocean', (mix class) `Panola Clear Mixture', (pink shades/tints with blotch class) `Nature Pink Shades', [purple (dark), blue-violet with white cap class] `Nature Beacon', [purple (dark), blue-violet/white face with blotch class] `Panola Purple With Face', (purple with light eye class) `Baby Bingo Lavender Blue', (white class) `Nature White', (yellow class) `Nature Yellow', (yellow with blotch and purple, blue-violet cap class) `Iona Purple & Yellow With Blotch', (yellow with blotch and red cap class) `Bingo Red & Yellow', (yellow with blotch and red cap class) `Panola Yellow With Blotch', (yellow with dark veins class) `Whiskers Yellow'. We believe these cultivars would perform well in the southern U.S. or areas of the world with similar heat and cold hardiness zones.

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Zhanao Deng, Sandra B. Wilson, Xiaobao Ying, and David M. Czarnecki II

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Mohammed I. Fetouh, Abdul Kareem, Gary W. Knox, Sandra B. Wilson, and Zhanao Deng

A number of privet species (Ligustrum spp.) that are important to the nursery and landscape industry have escaped cultivation and become invasive or weedy in the United States and other countries. Induced tetraploids in these species may produce new selections or cultivars with reduced or eliminated invasive potential. Applying drops of semisolid agar containing 0.1% to 0.3% colchicine and 0.2% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to newly emerged seedlings of japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum Thunb.) resulted in 15.6% to 22.6% tetraploid induction. The nuclear DNA content of tetraploids was 5.31 pg/2C, 101.9% higher than that of diploids. Compared with diploid plants, tetraploids were more compact, with an average of 31.0% shorter plant height and 33.1% smaller canopy width. Tetraploids had 29.2% thicker internodes, and their leaves were 39.5% larger and 33.8% thicker, resulting in 42.1% to 24.1% greater fresh or dry leaf weights (per leaf) in tetraploids compared with diploids. Without indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) treatment, cuttings from tetraploids showed 28% lower rooting than diploids. IBA treatments improved the rooting of tetraploid cuttings, resulting in 65% rooting success. These results indicate that tetraploids can be readily induced in japanese privet and induced tetraploids show significant changes in plant growth and size, shoot growth, leaf morphology, and rooting of cuttings. The modified tetraploid induction method and the induced tetraploids are expected to be useful for producing new selections or cultivars with reduced invasive potential in japanese and other privets.

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David M. Czarnecki II, Amanda J. Hershberger, Carol D. Robacker, David G. Clark, and Zhanao Deng

Lantana camara L., a popular nursery and landscape plant, is categorized as an invasive species in Florida, because it produces viable pollen and cross-pollinates with the native species Lantana depressa Small. The invasive potential of L. camara is a challenging issue for the nursery and landscape industry, so sterile non-invasive cultivars are needed to replace fertile invasive ones. This study aimed to determine the ploidy level and male fertility of both commercial L. camara cultivars and breeding lines to identify male-sterile cultivars and assess the effectiveness of sterile triploid production in L. camara. A polyploid series was identified among 32 L. camara cultivars and breeding lines. Male fertility, based on pollen stainability, varied widely among the cultivars/breeding lines. Ploidy level was the most important factor determining L. camara pollen stainability/male sterility. On average, diploids exhibited the highest pollen stainability (64.6%) followed by tetraploids (45.1%), pentaploids (34.6%), and hexaploids (18.0%). Triploids showed the lowest pollen stainability (9.3%), suggesting that generating triploids would be an effective genetic approach to producing sterile L. camara and reducing its pollen-mediated invasiveness. Pollen stainability of triploid cultivars, Balandpawn (LandmarkTM Pink Dawn PP15,516), Lemon Drop, Miss Huff, New Gold, New Red Lantana, Red Butler, Red Spread Lantana, Samson Lantana, and Sunset Lantana was consistently below 10%. A number of triploid cultivars had pollen stainability approaching 20% to 30%, indicating a necessity for careful examination and screening of newly produced triploids to ensure high sterility in selected triploids. Pollen stainability variation was observed within ploidy levels, implying the existence of other genetic and environmental factors that influence the pollen stainability/male fertility of L. camara. Results from this study suggest that there is excellent potential to develop genetically sterile cultivars in L. camara for the U.S. nursery and landscape industry.

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Courtney A. Weber, Gloria A. Moore, Zhanao Deng, and Fred G. Gmitter Jr.

Mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with freeze tolerance was accomplished using a Citrus grandis (L.) Osb. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf. F1 pseudo-testcross population. A progeny population of 442 plants was acclimated and exposed to temperatures of -9 °C and -15 °C in two separate freeze tests. A subpopulation of 99 progeny was genotyped for random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD), cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence (CAPS), sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR), and sequence tagged site (STS) markers to produce a linkage map for each parent. Potential QTL were identified by interval mapping, and their validity was corroborated with results from means comparison (t test), one-way analysis of variance (F test), and bulked segregant analysis (BSA). Multiple analytical methods provided evidence supporting putative QTL and decreased the probability of missing significant QTL associated with freeze tolerance. QTL with a large effect on freeze tolerance were located on both the Citrus and Poncirus linkage maps. In addition, clusters of markers with significantly different means between marker present and absent classes indicating minor QTL that contribute smaller effects on the level of tolerance were found on the linkage maps of both species.

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Carlee Steppe, Sandra B. Wilson, Zhanao Deng, Keri Druffel, and Gary W. Knox

Trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a popular low-growing ornamental plant valued for its heat and drought tolerance and continuous purple or white flowering throughout much of the year. Recently, trailing lantana was predicted to be invasive by the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida, and therefore not recommended for use. All cultivars fall under this designation unless proven otherwise. Eight trailing lantana varieties were obtained from wholesale growers and naturalized populations found in Texas and Australia. Plants were propagated vegetatively, finished in 4-inch pots, and planted under field conditions to determine morphological and cytological differences among varieties. Australian trailing lantana differed morphologically from the other varieties in its smaller habit, leaves (which had serrate-crenate leaf margins, and fewer appressed hairs), heavy fruiting, and cold sensitivity (observational reduced growth and flowering during winter months). Nuclear DNA content analysis suggests that Australian trailing lantana is likely a tetraploid and all other varieties evaluated were likely triploids with high levels of sterility. Pollen stainability of Australian trailing lantana was moderately high (58.83%), whereas pollen production was rarely observed in all other varieties. Results support that there are two forms of trailing lantana, the U.S. varieties distinguished by their leaf and flower morphology, ploidy level, and the absence of fruit and viable pollen.