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Jack E. Staub, Matthew D. Robbins, Yingmei Ma, and Paul G. Johnson

Continued reduction in limited natural resources worldwide increasingly necessitates the incorporation of low-maintenance and low-input plant materials into urban landscapes. Some fine-leaved Festuca grass species have been used in formal gardens and native urban landscapes because of their inherent tolerance to abiotic stresses, but native, ornamental types (tall and non-spreading with multicolored culms and panicles) are not common in landscapes of the western United States. A native fine-leaved Festuca collection made in Montana (designated FEID 9025897) by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Services possesses such ornamental characteristics but has not been evaluated for its horticultural potential. Therefore, a study was designed to assess its phenotypic and genotypic attributes by cloning 270 FEID 9025897 plants and evaluating them along with native F. idahoensis and F. ovina PIs (five) and commercial checks (five) for genetic diversity and plant morphology for 2 years (2010–11). Plant genetic constitution was determined using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. Plant height, width, biomass, relative vigor (visual rating of 0 = dead to 5 = green, abundant growth), persistence (number of plants alive per plot), and regrowth after clipping (visual rating of 0 = none to 5 = most) were estimated by evaluation of plants under replication at Hyde Park, UT. Based on AFLP-based coancestry analysis, FEID 9025897 plants possessed considerable genetic affinities with F. idahoensis. Morphological traits as averaged over both years varied in height (13.9 to 105.0 cm), width (9.9 to 66.2 cm), biomass (0 to 170.4 g), vigor (0.2 to 4.7), persistence (0 to 3.9), and regrowth (0 to 4.0). Based on these differences, 19 (7%) FEID 9025897 plants were identified for their ornamental potential that possessed multicolored (red, orange, and yellow) culms and varied in morphology with 2-year means of height (79.8 cm), width (45.2 cm), biomass (88.5 g), vigor (2.9), persistence (1.8), and regrowth (3.7).

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Lop Phavaphutanon*, Yonit Hebbe, Shlomo Cohen, and Joshua D. Klein

Compounds that modulate the synthesis of gibberellin (GA) can also enhance resistance to abiotic stress in treated plants. Seed treatments of 600 ppm trinexapac-ethyl (TE), which inhibits GA synthesis by blocking the transformation of GA20 to GA1 and foliar applications of 15 ppm paclobutrazol (Paclo), which inhibits the oxidation of ent-kaurene to kaurenoic acid, were applied separately or together to three varieties of hot pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) that are popular in Thailand. Greenhouse-grown plants were subjected to 7-10 days of drought, and then rewatered before transfer to a screenhouse. Khee Noo (an upright “bird type” pepper) was most sensitive to drought, compared to Bang Chang and Hot (“cayenne type”). In all varieties, both Paclo and TE treatments reduced the height of irrigated plants, but led to the retention of both plant size and pepper yield in droughted plants, compared to either irrigated plants or to untreated droughted plants. Treatment with Paclo provided the greatest retention of leaf relative water content (RWC) under drought conditions, with no advantage to the combination Paclo+TE treatment. Only Paclo treatment increased leaf thickness in Bang Chan and Hot, whereas both Paclo and TE had similar effects on increasing leaf thickness in Khee Noo. Khee Noo was the variety most responsive to Paclo or TE treatments, with increases in leaf thickness, epicuticular wax, and leaf pigments, all of which may better allow the plants to survive stress by storing leaf moisture, enhancing photosynthesis (chlorophyll), and preventing oxidative injury (carotenoids). Electrolyte leakage, indicative of membrane permeability and thus of susceptibility to stress, was diminished by 25% to 33% in leaves from plants treated with Paclo or TE.

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Adriana Robbins, Ying Jia, and Eliezer Louzada*

In Texas, the freezes of 1951 and 1962 together killed 125,000 acres of citrus trees and the freeze of 1983 killed 40,000 acres. The low temperature is one of the most important abiotic stresses to be understood and manipulated molecularly. Cold hardiness is found in the deciduous citrus relative, trifoliate orange, which can withstand temperatures as low as -26 °C when it is cold acclimated. Exposure of the cold hardy trifoliate orange plants to temperature from 28 °C to -5 °C enabled us to isolate and characterize one novel citrus low temperature gene (clt) with two transcripts, called clt-a and clt-b from leaves and twigs. Clt-a was produced when plants were subjected to low temperatures (starting at 10 °C), while cltb was constitutively expressed. Both clt-a and clt-b have the same open reading frame of 165 nucleotides and encodes a small protein of 54 amino acid. However, clt-a has an additional 98 bp nucleotides at the 3'-untranslated region (UTR), which is absent in clt-b. Expression analysis using relative quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated that clt-a is expressed exclusively at low temperatures, while clt-b is expressed constitutively (expression verified from 2 °C to -5 °C). In the process of deacclimation from -1 °C to 28 °C, the clt-a transcript degraded dramatically after 2 °C and was completely absent at 28 °C, while the clt-b transcript remain stable. When the acclimated plant was taken from -1 °C to room temperature, the clt-a gene degraded within 2 hours. Moreover, when acclimated plant was continuously exposed at -1 °C for 20 days, both transcripts clt-a and clt-b remained stable. Involvement of alternative splicing in transcript stability will be discussed.

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A.M. Shirazi and K.A. Jacobs

Near-lethal abiotic stresses, e.g., low or high temperatures, chemicals, etc., can break endodormancy prematurely and reduce cold hardiness in woody plants. It is not well-ducumented whether biotic stresses can cause the same effect. Botryosphaeria dothidea causes canker in redbud (Cercis canadensis) and many other woody plants and is one of the most limiting factors growing redbud in the landscape. Two-year-old seedlings were planted in a nursery in May 1998 at The Morton Arboretum. Trees were inoculated (n = 10/treatment) with the fungus in Sept. 1998 using the stem slit method (a slit was cut about 5 cm above the base of the trunk and the wound was covered with parafilm after treatment). The treatments were T1 = control (PDA, Potato Dextrose Agar),T2 = 1-mm mycelium plug, T3 = low spore suspension (25 μL), T4 = high spore suspension (25 μL). Stem cold hardiness was evaluated by artificial freezing tests in Nov. 1998. The mean LT50 (the temperature at which 50% of the tissues is killed) from ion leakage were T1 (Control) = -29.3 °C, T2 (mycelium): -24.05 °C, T3 (low spore) = -18.75 °C, and T4 (high) = -16.4 °C. T3 and T4, the low- and high-spore inoculation, significantly reduced cold hardiness in redbud stem tissues. The LST (lowest survival temperature) based on visual observation of the samples after 7 days indicated all Botryosphaeria dothidea-treated plants had lower cold hardiness compared to control. Endodormancy was broken in B. dothidea-treated plants after placing plants under 16 h of light and 23 /18 °C day/night temperature for 1 month after the treatment. The highest percent budbrealk was for T4 (high spore), followed by T3 (Low Spore) and T2 (Mycelium).

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Xunzhong Zhang, R.E. Schmidt, E.H. Ervin, and S. Doak

Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris Huds.) is an extensively used cool-season grass for fine turf areas such as golf course putting greens, but suffers from poor summer stress tolerance. These studies were conducted to investigate the influences of natural plant growth regulators (NPGR) and Fe on creeping bentgrass photochemical activity (PA), antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, root growth and leaf color under two fertilization regimes. The bentgrass was maintained in well-watered field conditions or water-stressed glasshouse conditions. A mature bentgrass was treated monthly during the field season with seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum Jol.) extract (SWE) at 50 mg·m-2 or humic acid (HA) at 150 mg·m-2 or in combination with or without FeSO4 at 520 mg·m-2 and grown under a low or a high fertilization regime. Foliar application of SWE + Fe increased PA (14% to 15%), while applications of SWE + HA or SWE + HA + Fe increased SOD activity (49% to 114%) of creeping bentgrass in Summer 1997 and Summer 1998. There was no significant fertilization × NPGR interaction for PA and SOD activity. Bentgrass PA was increased by 13% to 46% when treated with NPGR with or without Fe compared to the control measured in May. The addition of Fe with each NPGR application improved fall and winter leaf color. All NPGR and Fe treatments increased root mass (17% to 29%) in Aug. 1997 and 1998, except HA alone in 1998. Under sustained low soil moisture (-0.5 MPa) conditions, application of NPGR with or without Fe increased PA and SOD activity. The data indicate that SWE and HA enhance the physiological function of `Southshore' creeping bentgrass, resulting in improved root growth regardless of low or high fertilization regime. However, addition of Fe to these NPGR served primarily to improve late season leaf color. The results suggest that, in addition to maintaining adequate plant-available nutrients, applications of natural PGRs, such as SWE and HA, prior to and during summer abiotic stresses would be beneficial.

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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.

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Yiming Liu, Hongmei Du, Kai Wang, Bingru Huang, and Zhaolong Wang

Salinity is a detrimental abiotic stress for plant growth in salt-affected soils. The objective of this study was to examine photosynthetic responses to salinity stress in two warm-season turfgrasses differing in salinity tolerance. Salt-tolerant species seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) and salt-sensitive species centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) were exposed to salinity at three NaCl concentrations (0, 300, and 500 mm) in a growth chamber. Turf quality, relative water content (RWC), and leaf photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined, whereas electrolyte leakage (EL) increased under the two NaCl regimes for both grass species, and the changes were more dramatic in centipedegrass than that in seashore paspalum as well as in the higher salinity concentration. Two grass species showed different phytosynthetic responses to salinity stress. The earlier inhibition of photosynthesis in seashore paspalum was mainly associated with stomatal closure. As salinity increased and salinity stress prolonged, the inhibition of photosynthesis in seashore paspalum was mainly associated with non-stomatal factors. The inhibition of photosynthesis in centipedegrass was associated with both stomatal closure and non-stomatal factors at both salinity levels. The sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis demonstrated the Rubisco large subunit had no obvious decrease during the whole stress period under the 300-mm and 500-mm treatments in seashore paspalum, whereas it significantly decreased in centipedegrass under both the 300-mm and 500-mm treatments. The results indicated that the superior salinity tolerance in seashore paspalum, compared with centipedegrass, could be attributed to its maintenance of Rubisco stability, chlorophyll content, photochemical efficiency as well as photosynthetic rate (Pn) capacity under salinity stress.

Open access

Pinki Devi, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Carol A. Miles

Separately, grafting and the use of plastic mulch can increase yield, quality, and early harvest of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), especially when plants are under biotic and/or abiotic stress. A 2-year field study was conducted to evaluate the combination of four different rootstocks and two types of plastic mulch (black and clear) on date of watermelon first flowering, fruit ripening, yield, and fruit quality when plants were exposed to Verticillium dahliae. Seedless watermelon cv. Secretariat was grafted onto rootstocks Lagenaria siceraria cv. Pelop, Benincasa hispida cv. Round, and two interspecific hybrid squash rootstocks Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata cvs. Super Shintosa and Tetsukabuto, with nongrafted ‘Secretariat’ as the control. Fruit were harvested 0, 7, and 14 days after both the leaflet and tendril attached to the fruit pedicel were completely dry (fruit considered to be physiologically mature). The area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) values for verticillium wilt were not different for mulch type in either year, although the overall AUDPC value was greatly reduced in the four grafted treatments (227) compared with nongrafted (743). There was no difference in days to male or female flowering due to mulch type or year, and rootstock did not affect first flowering of male flowers. Female flowering was 14 and 11 days later in 2018 and 2019, respectively, for ‘Secretariat’ grafted onto bottle gourd ‘Round’ compared with ‘Secretariat’ grafted onto ‘Tetsukabuto’. Female flowering of ‘Secretariat’ on ‘Round’ was also 7 days later compared with nongrafted ‘Secretariat’ both years. However, days to first harvest was not different with mulch or rootstock and was 92 days after transplanting (DAT) in 2018 and 114 DAT in 2019. There was no difference in yield (fruit number and weight) due to year, harvest date, or mulch, but there was a difference due to grafting. ‘Secretariat’ grafted onto ‘Super Shintosa’ had the greatest total number and weight of fruit per plant (3.7 and 14.8 kg, respectively), and nongrafted ‘Secretariat’ had the lowest (0.7 and 3.2 kg, respectively). Fruit quality attributes hollow heart formation (rating 3.2/5 on average), hard seed count (6 on average), total soluble solids (11% on average), and lycopene content were not different among mulch type, rootstock treatment, or harvest date; however, lycopene content did differ due to year (52.44 and 32.51 µg·g−1 in 2018 and 2019, respectively). Flesh firmness was highest for watermelon grafted onto ‘Super Shintosa’ rootstock (6.7 N) and lowest for nongrafted watermelon (4.3 N). Overall, rootstocks reduced verticillium wilt severity and increased fruit yield whereas mulch had no effects, and 5 V. dahliae colony forming units (cfu)/g of soil may be the minimum level for impact on watermelon fruit yield.

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Joohee Lee and Yeh-Jin Ahn

Heat shock proteins are a group of proteins expressed under heat and other abiotic stresses (reviewed in Lindquist and Craig, 1988 ). They are classified into five different families, HSP100, HSP90, HSP70, HSP60, and sHSP (12 to 42 kDa), based on

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Lijian Liang, Yanming Deng, Xiaobo Sun, Xinping Jia, and Jiale Su

, mediation of stomatal movement, photosynthesis regulation, ripening of fruit and senescence of organs, and so on ( Procházková et al., 2015 ). Moreover, NO is demonstrated as one of the key components of plant responses to abiotic stress including CI ( Qiao