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Carl D. Schlagnhaufer, Richard N. Arteca, and Eva J. Pell

Ethylene production is involved in many plant physiological processes including stress responses and is frequently associated with foliar senescence. Ethylene emission is a common plant response to many biotic and abiotic stresses. We have cloned two ACC synthase cDNAs (OIP-1, PAC-1) from the leaves of ozone treated Solanum tuberosum L. plants. Plants treated with ozone produced ethylene within 1 hour following treatment initiation. Levels continued to increase reaching a peak after 2 h. PAC-1 was expressed after 1 hour reaching a maximum by 2 hours and showed a marked decline after 4 h. OIP-1 was first expressed after 2 hours and high levels of expression continued up to 4 hours following treatment initiation. Leaves treated with CuCl2 produced high levels of ethylene within 0.5 hour after treatment initiation. Ethylene levels continued to increase reaching a peak after 2 hours with no change after 4 h. PAC-1 was expressed after 0.5 hour reaching a peak at 1 hour and showed a progressive decline from 2 to 4 h. However, OIP-1 expression was first detected 2 hours following treatment initiation and high levels of expression continued up 4 h. Leaves exposed to Alternaria solani produced increased levels of ethylene 1 day following inoculation reaching a peak after 3 days. PAC-1 was expressed at a low level 1 day after inoculation and expression remained constant for the duration of the experiment, whereas, OIP-1 was not expressed until day 4.

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Amnon Levi, John Coffey, Laura Massey, Nihat Guner, Elad Oren, Yaakov Tadmor, and Kai-shu Ling

The bitter desert watermelon, Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad is a wild species valuable for biotic and abiotic stress resistance that could be exploited for improving watermelon cultivars [Citrullus lanatus (Thunberg) Matsum & Nakai var. lanatus]. The objective of this study was to survey and identify C. colocynthis accessions displaying resistance to the Papaya ringspot virus-watermelon strain (PRSV-W). Thirty-one accessions of C. colocynthis, collected in Africa, the Middle East, southwest Asia, and India were evaluated for PRSV-W resistance. Of these 31 accessions, 4 U.S. Plant Introduction (PI) accessions, including 525080 (collected in Qena, Egypt) and PI 537277, PI 652554, and Griffin 14201 (collected at the northern Indian desert of Rajasthan and the neighboring region of Punjab, Pakistan) showed high resistance to PRSV-W. Plants of these four resistant PIs were self-pollinated to produce S1 and S2 seeds that continued to maintain the high levels of PRSV resistance. Since there is a wide genetic distance between watermelon cultivars and C. colocynthis, we performed crosses and backcrosses with watermelon cultivars, including ‘Charleston Gray’ and ‘Sugar Baby’ to produce viable seed that would be useful in the development of genetic populations and in introducing the resistance into watermelon cultivars.

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Jim Syvertsen and Yoseph Levy

Multiple stresses almost always have synergistic effects on plants. In citrus, there are direct and indirect interactions between salinity and other physical abiotic stresses like poor soil drainage, drought, irradiance, leaf temperature, and atmospheric evaporative demand. In addition, salinity interacts with biotic pests and diseases including root rot (Phytophthora spp.), nematodes, and mycorrhizae. Improving tree water relations through optimum irrigation/drainage management, maintaining nutrient balances, and decreasing evaporative demand can alleviate salt injury and decrease toxic ion accumulation. Irrigation with high salinity water not only can have direct effects on root pathogens, but salinity can also predispose citrus rootstocks to attack by root rot and nematodes. Rootstocks known to be tolerant to root rot and nematode pests can become more susceptible when irrigated with high salinity water. In addition, nematodes and mycorrhizae can affect the salt tolerance of citrus roots and may increase chloride (Cl-) uptake. Not all effects of salinity are negative, however, as moderate salinity stress can reduce physiological activity and growth, allowing citrus seedlings to survive cold stress, and can even enhance flowering after the salinity stress is relieved.

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Xin Zhao, C.B. Rajashekar, Edward E. Carey, and Weiqun Wang

Demand for organically grown produce is increasing, largely due to concerns of consumers about health and nutrition. Previous studies have not shown a consistent difference of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, between organic food crops and the conventional counterparts. However, to date, little consideration has been given to phytochemicals, secondary plant metabolites with potential health-promoting properties. We first discuss factors that can infl uence the levels of phytochemicals in crops, and then we critically review the results of published studies that have compared the effects of organic and conventional production systems on phytochemical contents of fruit and vegetables. The evidence overall seems in favor of enhancement of phytochemical content in organically grown produce, but there has been little systematic study of the factors that may contribute to increased phytochemical content in organic crops. It remains to be seen whether consistent differences will be found, and the extent to which biotic and abiotic stresses, and other factors such as soil biology, contribute to those differences. Problems associated with most studies tend to weaken the validity of comparisons. Given the limitations of most published studies, needs for future research are discussed.

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Yongfeng Yang, Zhixiao Yang, Shizhou Yu, and Hongli Chen

Organic acid secretion from higher plant roots into the rhizosphere soil plays an important role in nutrient acquisition and metal detoxification; however, their precise functions and the related mechanisms in abiotic stress tolerance remain poorly understood. Tobacco is an important crop plant, so thoroughly elucidating these factors in tobacco is of high priority. In the present study, the activation effect on soil potassium (K), contents of exuded organic acids, and physiological changes in the roots of various tobacco varieties under both normal K supply and K-deficiency stress were investigated. Our results showed that one high-K variety (ND202) exhibited a significantly higher total content of organic acids in the root exudates and the highest available K content in the rhizosphere soil, compared with two common ones (K326 and NC89). Moreover, the high-K tobacco variety was less affected in terms of root vigor under K-deficiency stress, and displayed greater increases in the activities of the stress-resistant enzymes consisting of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT). Taken together, these results provide evidence that tobacco roots exude large amounts of organic acids to increase the available K content in the rhizosphere soil and improve the utilization rate of soil K.

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Rebecca Grube Sideman

High tunnels can facilitate production of ripe colored bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) in locations with short growing seasons by extending the length of the growing season and protecting fruit from biotic and abiotic stressors. We grew 10 cultivars of bell pepper over 3 years in a high tunnel in Durham, NH. Yields of marketable colored fruit ranged from 1576 to 2285 g/plant in 2015, from 1194 to 1839 g/plant in 2016, and 1471 to 2358 g/plant in 2017. Significant differences in marketable yield among cultivars existed only in 2015 and 2017. Of the 10 cultivars evaluated, those developed for controlled environments produced greater marketable yields than those developed for production in the field or unheated tunnels (P < 0.0001). The seasonal production patterns were similar among cultivars in all 3 years: a single peak in production occurred between 159 and 175 days after seeding, followed by much lower but steady production until frost ended each growing season. Our results demonstrate that reasonable yields of colored bell peppers can be produced in high tunnels in locations with short growing seasons. We suggest that further work may be needed to identify optimal pruning and canopy management strategies to maximize yields and fruit quality.

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Qi Zhang, Liqi Yang, and Kevin Rue

Drought is the most important abiotic stress in crop production including turfgrass management. Using drought tolerant plants can help minimize stress damage. In this study, 23 commercially available cultivars of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) were evaluated for their responses to drought stress that was induced by polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000 in a hydroponic system during the seed germination and seedling growth stage. In such a system, water potential was adjusted to 0.0 (the control), −0.3, and −0.6 MPa to mimic the drought condition. The absolute water content (AWC), shoot dry weight (SDW), root dry weight (RDW), longest root length (LRL), specific root length (SRL), and root-to-shoot dry weight ratio (RSR) in the plants grown for 4 weeks in the treatment were determined. Results showed that SDW and LRL were unaffected by drought; however, RDW and RSR increased, whereas SRL and AWC were reduced under drought. Among the 23 creeping bentgrass cultivars evaluated, Independence and Crystal Bluelinks had a higher turfgrass performance index (TPI), which represented the number of times a cultivar ranked in the top statistical group across all parameters. The results suggest that ‘Independence’ and ‘Crystal Bluelinks’ may be more adapted to drought than the other cultivars at the seedling stage.

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Samir Droby, Ron Porat, Lea Cohen, Batia Weiss, Boris Shapiro, Sonia Philosoph-Hadas, and Shimon Meir

Jasmonic acid (JA) and methyl jasmonate (MJ), collectively referred to as jasmonates, are naturally occurring plant growth regulators involved in various aspects of plant development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, we found that postharvest application of jasmonates reduced decay caused by the green mold Penicillium digitatum (Pers.: Fr.) Sacc. after either natural or artificial inoculation of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi `Marsh Seedless'). These treatments also effectively reduced chilling injury incidence after cold storage. The most effective concentration of jasmonates for reducing decay in cold-stored fruit or after artificial inoculation of wounded fruit at 24 °C was 10 μmol·L-1. Higher and lower jasmonate concentrations were less effective at both temperatures. MJ at 10 μmol·L-1 also most effectively reduced the percentage of fruit displaying chilling injury symptoms after 6 weeks of storage at 2 °C and 4 additional d at 20 °C. When tested in vitro, neither JA nor MJ had any direct antifungal effect on P. digitatum spore germination or germ tube elongation. Therefore, it is suggested that jasmonates probably reduced green mold decay in grapefruit indirectly by enhancing the natural resistance of the fruit to P. digitatum at high and low temperatures.

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Ariel Singerman, Stephen H. Futch, and Brandon Page

Citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) has caused sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) yield in Florida to decrease by 55% since the disease was first discovered in 2005. As a consequence, the profitability and sustainability of citrus (Citrus sp.) production in Florida have been jeopardized, as evidenced by the 62% reduction in the number of citrus growers statewide. Because there is still no effective treatment or management strategy to cure the disease, it is crucial to optimize grove practices and management. The use of improved rootstocks could increase the tolerance of citrus scions to biotic and abiotic stresses, thereby allowing growers to cope better with the impact of HLB in the field. We used yield data collected from commercial trials over the course of multiple seasons to assess the side-by-side performance of various commercially available rootstocks developed by the two major breeding programs in Florida in HLB-endemic field conditions. We found that some of the rootstocks attained not only statistically significant differences in yield relative to the control but also meaningful differences in revenue. Those estimates provide evidence regarding the effect of rootstock during the first few seasons after planting. Our findings are useful to improve growers’ decision-making processes regarding rootstock selection for new groves.

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L. V. Gusta

Plants acclimate to abiotic stresses, e.g. heat, freezing drought and salinity, in response to environmental cues such as temperature, daylength and water. Plants can respond within minutes to the cue e.g. heat tolerance or within hours or days, e.g. drought and freezing tolerance. Heat shock proteins are measurable within 20 to 30 minutes of a heat stress and the plants aclimate almost immediately. In contrast, proteins related to freezing tolerance are measurable within hours but days are required before a measurable increase in freezing tolerance can be detected. In almost all stresses it appears that the environmental cue effects the water status of the plant which in turn affects the level of endogenous abscisic acid (ABA). ABA has been implicated to ameliorate the stress by inducing genes to produce stress proteins. There is a certain degree of commodity between stresses in ragards to stress proteins, however each stress has their own unique set of stress proteins. For example heat shock proteins did not confer stress tolerance. Proteins involved in water and osmotic stress tolerance share a high degree of commonality. I” all stresses a unique class of proteins are synthesized which are classified as heat or boiling stable (do not coagulate at 100°). These proteins are suggested to be involved in the stress response. Many of these heat stable proteins are induced by ABA alone or in combination with jasmonic acid (JA). Analogs of ABA which are either slowly converted to ABA or are degraded slowly or taken up at a faster rate than ABA have been tested for the efficacy in inducing the stress responses. Analogs have also been identified which inhibit the ABA induced response. How these analogs may have practical significance will be discussed.