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Akihiro Itai and Naoko Fujita

The maximum level of ethylene production is closely related to fruit ripening and storage potential in Asian pears. In a previous study, we identified two markers (A and B) linked to high and moderate ethylene production during fruit ripening, respectively, by restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis of two 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) synthase genes (PPACS1 and PPACS2). In this study, a total of 152 cultivars were categorized into four marker types (AB, Ab, aB, and ab); types AB and Ab show high levels, aB a moderate level, and ab a low level of ethylene production during fruit ripening. A large number of ab and aB cultivars but few AB and Ab cultivars were observed. It suggests that there has been a decrease in high ethylene producers by artificial selection because of short shelf life. The ab cultivars are a good genetic resource for production of new cultivars with a long shelf life. Such information on marker types is useful for breeding strategies aimed at improving storage ability in Asian pears.

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Caixi Zhang, Kenji Tanabe, Fumio Tamura, Akihiro Itai, and Shiping Wang

The aim of this study was to investigate the roles of spur characteristics and carbon partitioning in regulating cultivar differences in fruit size of two late-maturing japanese pear cultivars, `Atago' and `Shinkou'. The study of spur characteristics showed that the two cultivars displayed different patterns in leaf development, flower characteristics, fruit growth, and shoot type. In contrast to `Atago' with dramatically larger fruit, `Shinkou' is a heavily spurred cultivar with a higher total leaf area and leaf number per spur early in fruit growth, less vegetative shoots, and smaller fruit but larger core. No significant differences were obtained in specific leaf weight, leaf thickness, chlorophyll content, and net photosynthesis of mature leaves, and seed number per fruit between the two cultivars. The results of trace experiment with 13C revealed that on a spur basis, there were no significant differences in the amount of 13C assimilate produced by spur leaves on each labeling date except at 190 days after anthesis, however, there were highly significant differences in the amount of 13C allocated to fruit between cultivars. Moreover, a higher amount of 13C assimilates was allocated to `Atago' flesh (or fruit) than that in `Shinkou'. Analysis of relative sink strength (RSS) indicates that the sink strength of fruit was dominant over those of other organs in the spur measured in both cultivars except at the early stage of fruit growth. `Atago' exhibited a greater RSS of fruit and lower losses of 13C for respiration and export than `Shinkou'. These results suggest that the movement of photosynthates into the fruit was determined by sink strength of the fruit rather than the source strength in the two cultivars.

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Yuanwen Teng, Kenji Tanabe, Fumio Tamura, and Akihiro Itai

A total of 118 Pyrus sp. (pear) and cultivars native mainly to east Asia were subjected to randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis to evaluate genetic variation and relationships among the accessions. Two hundred fifty RAPD markers were scored from 20 decamer primers. RAPD markers specific to species were identified. Clustering analysis revealed two divisions: one comprising cultivars of P. communis L., and the other including all accessions of Pyrus native to east Asia. The grouping of the species and cultivars by RAPD data largely agrees with morphological pear taxonomy. However, some noted incongruence existed between two classification methods. Pyrus calleryana Dcne. clustered together with P. koehnei Schneid., P. fauriei Schneid. and P. dimorphophylla Makino. Pyrus betulaefolia Bge. clustered with P. ×hopeiensis Yu and P. ×phaeocarpa Rehd. A noncultivated clone of P. aromatica Kikuchi et Nakai grouped with P. aromatica cultivars. Pyrus hondoensis Nakai et Kikuchi and cultivars of P. ussuriensis Max. formed a single group. Some accessions from Korea (named Korean pear) had species-specific RAPD markers and comprised an independent group. Most of the Chinese white pears clustered together with most of the Chinese sand pears. Based on the present results, the new nomenclature P. pyrifolia var. sinensis (Lindley) Teng et Tanabe for Chinese white pear was suggested. Most accessions of Japanese pears fell into one main group, whereas pear cultivars from Kochi Prefecture of Japan subclustered with some Chinese sand pears and one accession from Korea. Our results infer that some local Japanese pear cultivar populations may have been derived from cultivars native to Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku region, and that the latter may have been introduced from ancient China and/or Korea.

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Fumio Tamura, Kenji Tanabe, Akihiro Itai, and Hiroshi Tanaka

The dormancy of Japanese pear (Pyrus pyrifolia Nakai) floral buds was broken by prolonged chilling or short-term high-temperature treatment (45 °C for 4 hours). Changes in the protein profiles of the floral buds were studied using two-dimensional electrophoretic analysis (2-DE). The quantities of nine cold-induced proteins (CIPs) increased in the floral buds with increases in chill unit (CU) value, but did not change rapidly when bud dormancy was near completion. When dormancy of floral buds was broken by high-temperature treatment, nine heat-shock proteins (HSPs) accumulated. These HSPs were distinct from the CIPs. The isoelectric point of the 19-kDa CIP shifted to the basic side by high-temperature treatment as well as by chilling. These results suggest that the 19-kDa protein may be a usable marker to measure the degree of bud dormancy in Japanese pear.

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Akihiro Itai, Takaaki Igori, Naoko Fujita, Mayumi Egusa, Motoichiro Kodama, and Hideki Murayama

Black spot disease is one of the most serious diseases in Asian pear cultivation, with the commercial cultivar Nijisseiki being susceptible. Ethylene is known to play major roles in regulating plant defense responses against various pathogens. We investigated the relationship between ethylene synthesis and black spot disease in ‘Nijisseiki’ pear leaves by treatment with an analog of ethylene and 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), an inhibitor of ethylene action. Interestingly, both treatments enhanced black spot disease symptoms. Both treatments also increased ethylene production in accordance with disease symptoms through altered gene expression of ethylene biosynthetic enzymes, especially 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) synthase genes (PpACS3 and 4). Chemical names used: 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC).

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Nobutaka Shiraiwa, Kaori Kikuchi, Ichiro Honda, Masayoshi Shigyo, Hiroko Yamazaki, Daisuke Tanaka, Kenji Tanabe, and Akihiro Itai

To clarify the role of gibberellin (GA) in the growth of bunching onion (Allium fistulosum), identification of endogenous GAs and expression analysis of a putative gibberellin 3-oxidase (AfGA3ox1) were conducted. GA1, GA3, GA4, GA9, GA20, and GA34 were identified with levels of GA4 and GA9 being higher than those of GA1, GA3, and GA20. The young seedlings were clearly elongated by exogenous GA4 treatment but not by GA3. These results indicate that the 13-non-hydroxylation pathway of GA biosynthesis may be predominant in shoots with GA4 playing an important role in the growth of bunching onion. Expression of AfGA3ox1 was higher in leaf sheaths than leaf blades during vegetative growth. In reproductive organs, expression of AfGA3ox1 was higher at early and middle development stages in the stalks but was detected at a late development stage in the umbels. AfGA3ox1 was mapped on chromosome 7A from shallot, a bunching onion-related species.