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L. Phavaphutanon, F.T. Davies Jr., and S.A. Duray

Growth recovery of mycorrhizal (VAM) and nonmycorrhizal (non-VAM) neem plants after drought exposure were followed under low phosphorus conditions. Drought significantly decreased plant growth regardless of mycorrhiza. Relative growth rate of droughted plants was greater than nondroughted plants during the growth recovery period, and compensated the loss of growth during the previous drought. VAM increased plant growth and improved regeneration of new roots outside the original root balls, particularly in plants previously exposed to drought. New roots of VAM plants were readily colonized by the VAM fungi, while those of non-VAM plants remained uncolonized. VAM growth enhancement after drought exposure was associated with greater uptake of phosphorus and other nutrients, and improved root regeneration.

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M.T. Vidal, C. Azcón-Aguilar, J.M. Barea, and F. Pliego-Alfaro

Micropropagated plantlets of avocado (Persea americana Mill.) exhibit a very slow rate of growth during the acclimatization phase, possibly because mycorrhizae are absent. Inoculation of plantlets with the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus fasciculatum (Thaxter sensu Gerd) Gerd and Trappe improved formation of a well-developed root system that was converted into a mycorrhizal system. Introduction of the mycorrhizal fungus at the time plantlets were transferred from axenic conditions to ex vitro conditions improved shoot and root growth; enhanced the shoot: root ratio; increased the concentration and/or content of N, P, and K in plant tissues; and helped plants to tolerate environmental stress at transplanting. Inclusion of soil as a component of the potting medium appeared to favor mycorrhiza formation and effectiveness. Thus, mycorrhiza formation seems to be the key factor for subsequent growth and development of micropropagated plants of avocado.

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Michael R. Sweatt and Jayne Zajicek

Castilleja indivisa (Indian Paintbrush normally grows hemiparasitically in association with various hosts. Research at Texas A&M University has shown that depending on which host plant is selected, growth rates are increased two to five times over Castilleja grown without a host.

Haustorial connections form between the roots of Castilleja and the roots of its host plant. Published papers show that water and nutrients are transferred from the host to the hemiparasite, although this has not been characterized on a quantative level.

Water relations of Castilleja and various hosts are being examined by psychrometry to determine the importance of water transfer in the relationship. Carbon transfer and partitioning is being examined using steady state 14CO2 labeling. Water relations, carbon transfer, and host specific growth enhancement will be discussed.

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Michael A. Arnold and Eric Young

Bare-root Malus × domestica Borkh. seedlings were chilled for 0, 600, 1200, or 1800 hours at 5C (CH). Seedlings were then placed with roots and/or shoots in all combinations of 5 and 20C forcing conditions (FC) for up to 21 days. Virtually no growth occurred at 5C FC. When the whole plant was forced at 20C, all measures of root and shoot growth increased in magnitude, occurred earlier and at a faster rate with increasing CH. Thus, roots and shoots responded similarly to chilling. When shoots or roots were subjected to 20C FC, while the other portion of the plant was at 5C, the responses were reduced in magnitude and delayed. However, the overall growth enhancement by chilling was not negated. Root and shoot growth enhancement by chilling appeared to be increased if the other portion of the plant was actively growing also, but not dependent on it. Growth of adventitious shoots on roots (root suckers) was greatly enhanced with increasing CH on plants subjected to 5C shoot and 20C root FC. While total root and shoot bark protein levels on a per-seedling basis were similar, protein concentrations were lower in root bark than in shoot bark. During chilling, total protein per seedling generally increased until just before the time that chilling requirements for vegetative budbreak were satisfied. Protein degradation then began, resulting in lower protein levels through 2300 CH. Rapid protein breakdown (1200 to 1800 CH, roots; 1000 to 1800 CH, shoots) occurred at about the same time that root (1000 to 1800 CH) and shoot (800 to 1800 CH) growth responses to chilling were increasing. Warm FC resulted in increased protein breakdown with increased CH and forcing time.

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John L. Jifon and David W. Wolfe

Average global surface temperatures are predicted to rise due to increasing atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Attempts to predict plant response to CO2 must take into account possible temperature effects on phenology and reproductive sink capacity for carbohydrates. In this study, we investigated the effects of atmospheric CO2 partial pressure [35 Pa ambient CO2 (aCO2) vs. 70 Pa elevated CO2 (eCO2)] and temperature (26/15 vs. 35/21 °C day/night) on short- and long-term net CO2 assimilation (An) and growth of red kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). During early vegetative development [14-31 days after planting (DAP)], An, and relative growth rate (RGR) at eCO2 were significantly greater at the supra-optimum (35/21 °C) than at the optimum (26/15 °C) temperature. At 24 DAP, the CO2 stimulation of An by eCO2 was 49% and 89% at optimum and supra-optimum temperature, respectively, and growth enhancement was 48% and 72% relative to plants grown at aCO2. This high temperature-induced growth enhancement was accompanied by an up-regulation of An of eCO2-grown plants. In contrast, during later reproductive stages (31-68 DAP) the eCO2 stimulation of An was significantly less at the supra-optimum than at optimum temperature. This was associated with reduced seed set, greater leaf carbohydrate accumulation, and down-regulation of An at the higher temperature. At final harvest (68 DAP), the eCO2 stimulation of total dry weight was 31% and 14% at optimum and supra-optimum temperature respectively, and eCO2 stimulation of seed dry weight was 39% and -18% at optimum and supra-optimum temperature, respectively. These data indicate substantial shifts in the response to eCO2 during different phenological stages, and suggest that impaired reproductive development at high temperature could reduce the potential for CO2 stimulation of photosynthesis and productivity in bean and possibly other heat-sensitive species.

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A. Michel-Rosales, J. Farias, S. Guzman, G. Lopez, and G. Valdovinos

In western Mexico, banana is traditionally multiplied by vegetative reproduction in the orchard; recently, micropropagation of this species has increased considerably. Banana has been shown to give a positive response to AM fungal inoculation. However, the selection of efficient AM fungi species, currently propagated in vitro, has not been documented. The selection of the most-effective arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi for growth enhancement of banana vitroplants is the first step toward development of an AM inoculation system. This work reports the effect of nursery inoculation of Glomus aggregatum, G. clarum, G. etunicatum, G. intraradices, G. monosporum, G. mosseae, and Gigaspora margarita on the banana vitroplants growth. Pots (4 kg) containing a mixture of soil and coconut fiber (1:1) sterilized with methyl bromide were used. Treatments were arranged under a fully randomized experimental design with eight replications. The plants were harvested 120 days after inoculation and plant height, number of leaves, leaf area, fresh weight of roots, mycorrhizal colonization, and intensity of infection were measured. Glomus etunicatum, G. monosporum, G. mosseae, and G. aggregatum were shown to be the most-effective endophytes. Plant height was increased, as well as the production of banana roots in response to mycorrhizal inoculation with these fungi. On the other hand, G. intraradices and G. clarum showed low levels of colonization. The data clearly show the most efficient AM fungi for future inoculation studies in nursery banana production.

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F. Morin, J.A. Fortin, C. Hamel, R. L. Granger, and D. L. Smith

A 12-week greenhouse experiment was undertaken to test the efficiency of inoculation of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on four apple (Malus domestica Borkh) rootstock cultivars: M.26, Ottawa 3 (Ott.3), P.16, and P.22. The plants were grown in soil from an apple rootstock nursery, containing high levels of extractable P (644 kg Bray/1 ha-1). Inoculation treatments were Glomus aggregatum Shenck and Smith emend. Koske, G. intraradix Shenck and Smith, and two isolates of G. versiforme (Karsten) Berch, one originally from California (CAL) and the other one from Oregon (OR). Mycorrhizal plants were taller, produced more biomass, and had a higher leaf P concentration than the uninoculated control plants. Mycorrhizal inoculation also significantly increased the leaf surface area of `M.26' and `Ott.3' compared to the control. Glomus versiforme(CAL)-inoculated plants generally had the best nutrient balance, the greatest final height and shoot biomass, and produced an extensive hyphal network. All the mycorrhizal plants had similar percentages of root colonization, but the size of the external hyphal network varied with fungal species. Glomus versiforme(OR) had a larger extramatrical phase than G. aggregatum and G. intraradix. Mycorrhizal efficiency was associated with a larger external hyphal network, but showed no relation with internal colonization. Despite the high P fertility of the soil used, growth enhancement due to mycorrhizal inoculation was attributed to improved P nutrition.

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Tomohiro Okada and Yoh-ichi Matsubara

Tolerance to fusarium root rot and the changes in free amino acid contents in mycorrhizal asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L., cv. Welcome) plants were investigated. Sixteen weeks after inoculation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF; Glomus sp. R10), mycorrhizal plants showed higher dry weight of ferns and roots than non-mycorrhizal plants, and AMF colonization level in a root system reached up to 73.3%. Ten weeks after Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. asparagi (Foa; MAFF305556, SUF1226) inoculation, disease incidence and the severity of symptoms were eased and disease indices were low as less than 20 in mycorrhizal plants compared with non-AMF plants in the both isolates. As for the changes in free amino acid, total free amino acid contents in ferns and roots were higher in AMF plants than non-AMF plants 16 weeks after AMF inoculation. In this case, eight constituents of amino acids in ferns and 16 in roots increased in AMF plants; in particular, arginine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) showed considerable increase in both ferns and roots in AMF plants. In the Foa culture by Czapec-Dox medium in vitro, suppression of Foa propagation was recognized by the addition (0.1, 1%, w/v) of arginine and GABA. From these findings, plant growth enhancement and tolerance to fusarium root rot occurred in mycorrhizal asparagus plants, and the disease tolerance was supposed to be associated with the symbiosis-specific increase in free amino acids.

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Mengmeng Gu, James A. Robbins, Curt R. Rom, and Hyun-Sug Choi

Net CO2 assimilation (A) of four birch genotypes (Betula nigra L. ‘Cully’, B. papyrifera Marsh., B. alleghaniensis Britton, and B. davurica Pall.) was studied under varied photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and CO2 concentrations (CO2) as indicators to study their shade tolerance and potential for growth enhancement using CO2 enrichment. Effect of water-deficit stress on assimilation under varied PPFD and (CO2) was also investigated for B. papyrifera. The light saturation point at 350 ppm (CO2) for the four genotypes varied from 743 to 1576 μmol·m−2·s−1 photon, and the CO2 saturation point at 1300 μmol·m−2·s−1 photon varied from 767 to 1251 ppm. Light-saturated assimilation ranged from 10.4 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. alleghaniensis to 13.1 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. davurica. CO2-saturated A ranged from 18.8 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. nigra ‘Cully’ to 33.3 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. davurica. Water-deficit stress significantly reduced the light saturation point to 366 μmol photon m−2·s−1 but increased the CO2 saturation point in B. papyrifera. Carboxylation efficiency was reduced 46% and quantum efficiency was reduced 30% by water-deficit stress in B. papyrifera.

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Joseph W. Kloepper, M.S. Reddy, Choon-min Ryu, and John F. Murphy

Use of beneficial rhizobacteria to enhance growth and induce systemic disease protection in transplants. Plant associated bacteria have been studied for the capacity to provide plant growth enhancement and biological disease control. “Rhizobacteria” are bacteria from the rhizosphere that have the capacity to colonize plant roots following introduction onto seeds or into soil. Effects of rhizobacteria on plants may be deleterious, neutral, or beneficial. Beneficial rhizobacteria are termed “PGPR—plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.” In developmental studies aimed at reducing to practice the concept of induced systemic disease protection mediated by PGPR, we discovered that mixtures of PGPR and an organic amendment into the soilless media used to prepare tomato transplants resulted in highly significant and reproducible plant growth promotion. Time for development of transplants was typically reduced from 6 weeks for controls receiving industry standard fertility and growth regimes to 4 weeks for seedlings grown in soilless mix into which the PGPR had been incorporated. This marked growth promotion was also associated with systemic protection against pathogens. When transplants were inoculated with the tomato spot pathogen, significantly fewer lesions developed on plants grown in the biological system than on control plants. Similar effects on plant growth and systemic disease protection were seen with cucumber, bell pepper, and tobacco, suggesting that the benefits are not highly crop or cultivar specific. Results of recent field studies will be presented. We conclude that incorporation of PGPR into soilless mixes is a technologically useful and feasible way to deliver benefits to transplants.