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

Relative salt tolerance of eight Berberis thunbergii (japanese barberry) cultivars (B. thunbergii ‘Celeste’, ‘Kasia’, ‘Maria’, ‘Mini’, and ‘Talago’; B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea ‘Concorde’, ‘Helmond Pillar’, and ‘Rose Glow’) was evaluated in a greenhouse experiment. Plants were irrigated with nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solutions at an EC of 5.0 or 10.0 dS·m−1 (EC 5 or EC 10) once a week for 8 weeks. At 4 weeks after treatment, all barberry cultivars in EC 5 had minimal foliar damage with visual scores of 4 or greater (visual score 0: dead, 5: excellent). At 8 weeks after treatment, in EC 5, ‘Helmond Pillar’, ‘Maria’, ‘Mini’, and ‘Rose Glow’ plants exhibited slight foliar salt damage with an average visual score of 3.5, whereas ‘Celeste’, ‘Concorde’, ‘Kasia’, and ‘Talago’ had minimal foliar salt damage with an averaged visual score of 4.4. However, most barberry plants in EC 10 exhibited severe foliar salt damage 4 weeks after treatment with the exception of ‘Concorde’ and were dead 8 weeks after treatment. Compared with control, at the end of the experiment (8 weeks of treatments), shoot dry weight (DW) of ‘Celeste’, ‘Helmond Pillar’, ‘Maria’, and ‘Rose Glow’ in EC 5 was reduced by 47%, 47%, 50%, and 42%, respectively, whereas shoot DW of ‘Concorde’, ‘Kasia’, ‘Mini’, and ‘Talago’ in EC 5 did not change. In EC 10, shoot DW of ‘Celeste’, ‘Concorde’, ‘Kasia’, and ‘Talago’ was reduced by 75%, 35%, 55%, and 46%, respectively. The averaged sodium (Na) concentration of all barberry cultivars in EC 5 and EC 10 was 34 and 87 times, respectively, higher than the control, whereas leaf chloride (Cl) concentration of all barberry cultivars in EC 5 and EC 10 was 14–60 and 29–106 times, respectively, higher than the control. Growth, visual quality, and performance index (PI) were all negatively correlated with leaf Na and Cl content in all cultivars, suggesting that excessive Na and Cl accumulation in the leaf tissue led to growth reduction, salt damage, and death. In summary, ‘Concorde’, ‘Kasia’, and ‘Talago’ were relatively salt tolerant; ‘Helmond Pillar’, ‘Maria’, ‘Mini’, and ‘Rose Glow’ were relatively salt sensitive; and ‘Celeste’ was in between the two groups. Generally, barberry plants had moderate salt tolerance and can be irrigated with marginal water at an EC of 5 dS·m−1 or lower with slight foliar damage.

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Yuxiang Wang, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, Chaoyi Deng, Yi Wang, and Jorge Gardea-Torresdey

Ornamental grasses are commonly used in urban landscapes in Utah and the Intermountain West of the United States. The relative salt tolerance of Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud. (purple love grass), Miscanthus sinensis Andersson ‘Gracillimus’ (maiden grass), Panicum virgatum L. ‘Northwind’ (switchgrass), and Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash (little bluestem) were evaluated in a greenhouse. Plants were irrigated with a nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m–1 (control), or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 or 10.0 dS·m–1. At harvest (65 days after the initiation of treatment), P. virgatum and S. scoparium exhibited no foliar salt damage, and E. spectabilis and M. sinensis had minimal foliar salt damage when irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m–1. At an EC of 10.0 dS·m–1, P. virgatum and S. scoparium still had no foliar salt damage, but E. spectabilis and M. sinensis displayed slight foliar salt damage, with visual scores greater than 3 (0 = dead; 5 = excellent). Compared with the control, saline solution at an EC of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m–1 reduced the shoot dry weight of all ornamental grasses by 25% and 46%, respectively. The leaf sodium (Na+) concentration of E. spectabilis, M. sinensis, P. virgatum, and S. scoparium irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS·m–1 increased 14.3, 52.6, 5.3, and 1.7 times, respectively, and the chloride (Cl) concentration increased by 9.4, 11.1, 2.8, and 2.7 times, respectively. As a result of the salt-induced water deficit, plant height, leaf area, number of inflorescences and tillers, net photosynthesis rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration rate of four tested ornamental grasses decreased to some extent. Although high Na+ and Cl accumulated in the leaf tissue, all ornamental grass species still had a good visual quality, with average visual scores greater than 3. In conclusion, all ornamental grasses showed a very strong tolerance to the salinity levels used in this research.

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Xinjing Qu, Hui Wang, Ming Chen, Jiao Liao, Jun Yuan, and Genhua Niu

Oil tea (Camellia oleifera) is an important edible oil tree. However, its growth and yield are strongly limited by drought. This study investigated the physiological and metabolic responses of two common oil tea cultivars, Huajin and Changlin53, to moderate and severe drought stress. Based on the photosynthetic and physiological indices, ‘Changlin53’ may be more tolerant to drought than ‘Huajin’. A total of 41 key metabolites induced by drought stress, including 12 amino acids, 12 organic acids, 10 carbohydrates, 3 fatty acids, and 4 phenols, have been identified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Under moderate drought stress, the contents of carbohydrates, amino acids, and some organic acids in ‘Changlin53’ were significantly increased; however, under severe drought stress, the contents of soluble sugars were decreased and the synthesis ability of amino acids and organic acids were enhanced. The glutamic acid–mediated proline biosynthesis pathway and salicylic acid synthesis were continuously upregulated in ‘Changlin53’ under moderate and severe drought stress, which could regulate osmotic pressure and maintain intracellular environmental stability. Under moderate drought stress, the contents of monosaccharides, amino acids, and organic acids increased in ‘Huajin’ leaves. Furthermore, the shikimic acid–mediated secondary metabolite synthesis pathway was weakened. More secondary metabolites were used to increase glycolysis and tricarboxylic acid cycle to accelerate energy production and to enhance the glutamic acid–mediated proline biosynthesis pathway, which are necessary to increase osmotic regulation. Under severe drought stress, the contents of carbohydrates, organic acids, and some amino acids were significantly decreased in ‘Huajin’ leaves, indicating serious damage. These results deepened our understanding of the mechanisms involved in oil tea drought tolerance, which will help improve water management of oil tea seedlings.

Free access

Susmitha Nambuthiri, Amy Fulcher, Andrew K. Koeser, Robert Geneve, and Genhua Niu

Market researchers have found that nursery and greenhouse production practices that reduce plastic use can increase consumer interest. However, there are broader crop performance, production efficiency, and environmental factors that must be considered before adopting containers made with alternative materials. This review highlights current commercially available alternative containers and parent materials. In addition, findings from recent and ongoing nursery, greenhouse, and landscape trials are synthesized, identifying common themes, inconsistencies, research gaps, and future research needs.

Free access

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

Pansy [Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. `Delta Yellow Blotch' (Yellow) and `Delta Primrose Blotch' (Primrose)] plants were grown in a greenhouse under two CO2 concentrations [ambient (≈400 μmol·mol-1) and enriched (≈600 μmol·mol-1)], three daily light integrals (DLI; 4.1, 10.6, and 15.6 mol·m-2·d-1), and nine combinations of day and night temperatures created by moving plants every 12 h among three temperatures (15, 20, and 25 °C). Time to flower decreased and rate of flower development increased as plant average daily temperature (ADT) increased at all DLIs for Yellow or at high and medium DLIs for Primrose. Increasing the DLI from 4.1 to 10.6 mol·m-2·d-1 also decreased time to flower by 4 and 12 days for Yellow and Primrose, respectively. Both cultivars' flower size and Yellow's dry weight [(DW); shoot, flower bud, and total] decreased linearly as plant ADT increased at high and medium DLIs, regardless of how temperature was delivered during day and night. DW in Yellow increased 50% to 100% when DLI increased from 4.1 to 10.6 mol·m-2·d-1 under both CO2 concentrations. Flower size in Yellow and Primrose increased 25% under both CO2 conditions as DLI increased from 4.1 to 10.6 mol·m-2·d-1, but there was no increase between 10.6 and 15.6 mol·m-2·d-1, regardless of CO2 concentration. Plant height and flower peduncle length in Yellow increased linearly as the difference between day and night temperatures (DIF) increased; the increase was larger under lower than higher DLIs. The ratio of leaf length to width (LL/LW) and petiole length in Yellow increased as DIF increased at medium and low DLIs. Carbon dioxide enrichment increased flower size by 4% to 10% and DW by 10% to 30% except for that of the shoot at medium DLI, but did not affect flower developmental rate or morphology. DW of vegetative and reproductive parts of the plant was correlated closely with photothermal ratio, a parameter that describes the combined effect of temperature and light.

Free access

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

High soil salinity often results in poor stand establishment, reduced plant growth, and reduced yield of many horticultural crops such as peppers (Capsicum annuum). We investigated the effects of soil salinity and soil type on seedling emergence and growth of four commercial peppers (‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’, ‘NuMex Nematador’, ‘NuMex Primavera’, and ‘Jupiter’) in greenhouse experiments. Seeds were sown in either a loamy sand or a silt loam soil in pots and irrigated with saline solutions at electrical conductivity of 0.9 (tap water), 3.0, or 6.0 dS·m−1 (Expt. 1) or at 0.0 [reverse osmosis (RO) water], 0.9, or 1.5 dS·m−1 (Expt. 2). No seedling emergence was observed in treatments irrigated with 3.0 or 6.0 dS·m−1 solutions. The salinity at the top soil layer increased linearly with time when subirrigated with tap and saline solutions in both soil types, whereas no substantial increase in soil salinity was found when subirrigated with RO water or overhead irrigation with tap water. Salt accumulation at the top soil layer was greater in loamy sand than in silt loam. Seedling emergence percent subirrigated with RO water ranged from 70% to 80% in loamy sand and 45% to 70% in silt loam, depending on pepper cultivars. When subirrigated with tap water and saline solutions, the emergence percent ranged from 0% to 60%, depending on pepper and soil types. In Expt. 3, seedlings were germinated in commercial potting mix and grown in 1.8-L pots containing commercial potting mix. Saline solution treatments of 1.4 (control, nutrient solution), 2.1, 2.9, 3.5, or 4.2 dS·m−1 were initiated when seedlings had 11 to 13 leaves. Five weeks after initiating saline water irrigation, the reduction in shoot dry weight was greater in ‘Jupiter’ and ‘NuMex Primavera’ as compared with ‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’ and ‘NuMex Nematador’, but the differences were small.

Open access

Ji Jhong Chen, Haifeng Xing, Asmita Paudel, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, and Matthew Chappell

More than half of residential water in Utah is used for landscape irrigation. Reclaimed water has been used to irrigate urban landscapes to conserve municipal water. High salt levels in reclaimed water may pose osmotic stress and ion toxicity to salt-sensitive plants. Viburnums are commonly used landscape plants, but salinity tolerance of species and cultivars is unclear. The objective of this study was to characterize gas exchanges and mineral nutrition responses of 12 viburnum taxa subjected to salinity stress in a greenhouse study. Plants were irrigated with a nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.3 dS·m–1 or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m–1 or 10.0 dS·m–1. The net photosynthesis rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration rate (E) of all viburnum taxa, except for Viburnum ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’, decreased to various degrees with increasing salinity levels. The Pn, g S, and E of V. ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’ were unaffected by saline solutions of 5.0 dS·m–1 at the 4th and 9th week after treatment initiation, with the exception of the Pn of V. ×burkwoodii, which decreased at the 9th week. Leaf sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) concentrations of all viburnum taxa increased as salinity levels increased. Viburnum ×burkwoodii had relatively low leaf Na+ and Cl when irrigated with saline solutions of 10.0 dS·m–1. Plant growth and gas exchange parameters, including visual score, plant height, Pn, g S, E, and water use efficiency (WUE) correlated negatively with leaf Na+ and Cl concentrations. The ratio of potassium (K+) to Na+ (K+/Na+) and ratio of calcium (Ca2+) to Na+ (Ca2+/Na+) decreased when salinity levels increased. Visual score, plant height, Pn, g S, E, and WUE correlated positively with the K+/Na+ and Ca2+/Na+ ratios. These results suggest excessive Na+ and Cl accumulation inhibited plant photosynthesis and growth, and affected K+ and Ca2+ uptake negatively.

Full access

Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, Christina Perez, H. Brent Pemberton, and James Altland

Marigolds (Tagetes sp.) are ornamental plants with fine-textured, dark green foliage, and yellow, orange, or bicolored flowers. The relative salt tolerance of eight marigolds [‘Discovery Orange’, ‘Discovery Yellow’, ‘Taishan Gold’, ‘Taishan Orange’, and ‘Taishan Yellow’ african marigold (Tagetes erecta); ‘Hot Pak Gold’, ‘Hot Pak Orange’, and ‘Hot Pak Yellow’ french marigold (Tagetes patula)] was evaluated in a greenhouse experiment. Plants were irrigated weekly with nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solutions at an EC of 3.0 or 6.0 dS·m−1 (EC 3 or EC 6). Marigold plants began to show foliar salt damage (leaf burn and necrosis) at 6 weeks after the initiation of treatment. At harvest (9 weeks after the initiation of treatment), ‘Discovery Orange’, ‘Discovery Yellow’, ‘Taishan Gold’, and ‘Taishan Yellow’ plants exhibited severe foliar salt damage with visual scores less than 2 (on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 = dead and 5 = excellent with no foliar salt damage) in EC 6. In the same treatment, ‘Hot Pak Gold’ and ‘Taishan Orange’ plants all died and only one of nine ‘Hot Pak Orange’ and ‘Hot Pak Yellow’ plants survived. In EC 3, all cultivars had slight or minimal foliar salt damage with visual scores ≈4 with the exception of Taishan Gold and Taishan Orange plants that showed moderate foliar damage with a visual score of 2.3 and 2.1, respectively. Treatment EC 3 reduced the flower number of ‘Discovery Orange’, ‘Discovery Yellow’, ‘Hot Pak Gold’, and ‘Hot Pak Yellow’ by 52%, 28%, 50%, and 30%, respectively, whereas EC 6 decreased the flower number of ‘Discovery Orange’ and ‘Discovery Yellow’ by 48% and 52%, respectively. In addition, both EC 3 and EC 6 did not reduce total dry weight (DW) of any cultivars, except Hot Pak Yellow and Taishan Yellow. In conclusion, all marigold cultivars are moderately sensitive to salt. ‘Discovery Orange’, ‘Taishan Yellow’, ‘Discovery Yellow’, and ‘Taishan Gold’ were more tolerant than ‘Hot Pak Gold’, ‘Hot Pak Orange’, ‘Hot Pak Yellow’, and ‘Taishan Orange’.

Free access

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

Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' plants were grown in a greenhouse under ambient (400 μmol·mol-1) and enriched (600 μmol·mol-1) CO2 concentrations, three daily light integrals (DLI; 4.2, 10.8, and 15.8 mol/m per day), and nine combinations of day and night temperatures created by moving plants every 12 h among three temperatures (15, 20, and 25 °C). Time to flower decreased as plant average daily temperature (ADT) increased. Flower diameter decreased linearly as ADT increased in the 15 to 25 °C range and was not related to the difference between day and night temperatures (DIF). Increasing DLI from 4.2 to 10.8 mol/m per day also increased flower diameter by 3 to 4 mm regardless of temperature, but no difference was observed between 10.8 and 15.8 mol/m per day. Carbon dioxide enrichment increased flower diameter by 2 to 3 mm. Number of flower buds and dry mass at high and medium DLI decreased as plant ADT increased. Plant height increased as DIF increased from ñ6 to 12 °C. Number of flower buds and dry mass were correlated closely with the ratio of DLI to daily thermal time using a base temperature of 0 °C.

Free access

Christine Yung-Ting Yen, Terri W. Starman, Yin-Tung Wang, and Genhua Niu

The effects of cooling temperature [constant (10, 13, 15, or 18 °C, or 15, 18, or 21 °C)] and duration (2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 weeks, or 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 weeks) at two separate locations (College Station and Weslaco, TX) on growth and flowering of Dendrobium Sea Mary ‘Snow King’, a Dendrobium nobile Lindl. hybrid, were investigated and the cooling requirement for flowering was quantified. Interactions between temperature and cooling duration were significant on time required to reach anthesis from either the beginning or completion of cooling, average flower number per flowering node, and percentage of nodes with aborted buds. Increasing cooling duration from 2 to 6 or 3 to 7 weeks resulted in less time to reach anthesis after the completion of cooling. However, the increased cooling durations extended the time needed for producing a flowering crop. Plants cooled at a relatively higher temperature among 10, 13, and 15 °C required less time to reach anthesis after the completion of cooling. Plants had more flowering nodes and total flowers when cooled at 10, 13, or 15 °C than at 18 °C in College Station or at 15 or 18 °C than at 21 °C in Weslaco. The results suggest that 3 weeks at 13 °C has saturated the cooling requirement, and 3 weeks at 13 or 15 °C is a recommended cooling treatment that saves production cost without retarding flower development.