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Zhaolong Wang and Bingru Huang

Drought is a major limiting factor for turfgrass growth. Understanding genetic variations in physiological responses of turfgrass to drought stress would facilitate breeding and management programs to improve drought resistance. This study was designed to evaluate responses of abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation, water relations, and gas exchange to drought stress in four Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars differing in drought resistance. Plants of `Midnight' and `A82-204' (drought resistant) and `Brilliant' and `RSP' (drought susceptible) were grown under well-watered (control) or drought stress conditions for 25 days in growth chambers. Turf quality, leaf water potential (Ψleaf), relative water content (RWC), leaf net photosynthesis rate (Pn), and stomatal conductance (gs) declined, while electrolyte leakage (EL) increased during drought progression in all cultivars. The magnitudes of the change in these parameters were greater for `RSP' and `Brilliant' than for `Midnight' and `A82-204'. Leaf ABA content in `RSP' and `Brilliant' increased sharply after 2 days of stress to as much as 34 times the control level at 10 days of drought. Leaf ABA content in `Midnight' and `A82-204' also increased with drought, but to a lesser extent than in the other two cultivars. Leaf ABA level was negatively correlated with Ψleaf and gs. `A82-204' had a significantly lower ABA accumulation rate with changes in Ψleaf during drought compared to `Midnight', `RSP' and `Brilliant'; however, no differences in ABA accumulation rate were detected among the latter three cultivars. In addition, leaf gs was more sensitive to changes in ABA accumulation in `Midnight' and `A82-204' than in `RSP' and `Brilliant'. These results demonstrated that drought tolerant cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass were characterized by lower ABA accumulation and less severe decline in Ψleaf, Pn, gs, and turf quality during drought stress than drought sensitive cultivars. Drought tolerance of Kentucky bluegrass could be related to sensitivity of stomata to endogenous accumulation of ABA under drought stress conditions.

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J.R. McKenna and E.G. Sutter

Experiments with field-grown hybrid Paradox (Juglans hindsii × J. Regia) walnut trees were conducted to assess the effects of stock plant water status, auxin application method, and the addition of spermine on adventitious root formation in stem cuttings. A 2-fold increase in rooting was noted when semihardwood cuttings were collected from dry (midday Ψw = –1.3 MPa) stock plants compared to the same trees six days later when fully hydrated (midday Ψw = –0.6 MPa). Spermine, when combined with potassium indolebutyric acid (KIBA) and applied as a quick dip, enhanced the rooting percentage in hardwood cuttings (54%) compared to controls treated with KIBA alone (18%). Spermine had no effect when it was applied together with KIBA using a toothpick application, producing 65% rooting compared to controls which had 75% rooting. By itself, spermine had no effect on rooting. The toothpick method for applying rooting compounds resulted in significantly higher rooting percentages for hardwood cuttings, but not for semihardwood cuttings. Combining spermine with KIBA had no effect on rooting of semihardwood cuttings.

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Toshio Shibuya, Ryoko Terakura, Yoshiaki Kitaya, and Makoto Kiyota

Application of a low-relative-humidity treatment (LHT) to seedlings can reduce water stress on cuttings harvested from the seedlings, after the cuttings are planted. Effects of illumination during LHT and LHT duration on leaf water potential and leaf conductance in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings used as the model plant material and on growth of harvested cuttings were investigated to determine optimal LHT conditions. The seedlings received LHT for 12 or 24 h in a lighted or dark growth chamber at air temperatures of 28 to 31 °C and relative humidity of 12% to 25%. Cuttings including a foliage leaf and two cotyledons were harvested by cutting the hypocotyl of the seedlings immediately after the treatment, and then the cuttings were planted in vermiculite medium. Four days after planting, the total fresh weight of the cuttings from seedlings that had received LHT in the lighted chamber was 2.2 times that of cuttings from seedlings that had not received LHT, whereas the total fresh weight of those that had received LHT in the dark increased by 1.3 to 1.8 times. Significant effects of illumination during LHT were also observed in the transpiration rate and growth of the cuttings, harvested following the treatment, after they were planted. By varying LHT duration, it was also found that leaf water potential and leaf conductance of the seedlings decreased as LHT duration increased up to 18 h. Thus, illumination during LHT increased the growth of cuttings taken following the treatment, and optimal treatment duration of around 18 h was estimated from the seedlings' leaf conductance and leaf water potential.

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Milton E. Tignor, Frederick S. Davies, Wayne B. Sherman, and John M. Davis

Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf. seeds were germinated in perlite under intermittent mist at about 25 °C and natural daylight in a greenhouse. Two-week-old seedlings were then transferred into a growth chamber at 25 °C and 16-hour daylength for 1 week. Tissue samples were collected at 0, 6, 24, 168, and 504 hours after temperature equilibration at 10 °C. Freezing tolerance at –6.7 °C, as determined by electrolyte leakage, and stem (leaves attached) water potential (ψx), measured using a pressure chamber, was recorded for a subset of seedlings for each time interval. Red coloration (apparently anthocyanin) developed at the petiole leaflet junction and buds after 48 hours at 10 °C and gradually occurred throughout the leaves during further exposure. Complementary DNA clones for phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), 4-coumarate: coA ligase (4CL), and chalcone synthase (CHS) were used to probe RNA isolated from the leaves. No increase in steady-state messenger RNA level was detected. Increases in freeze hardiness occurred within 6 hours in the leaves, and continued for up to 1 week. Water potential initially decreased from –0.6 to –2.0 MPa after 6 hours, then returned to –0.6 MPa after 1 week. Thus, Poncirus trifoliata seedlings freeze-acclimate significantly after only 6 hours at 10 °C.

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Kuo-Tan Li and James P. Syvertsen

Mechanical harvesting of citrus trees can cause physical injuries, such as shedding of leaves, exposing roots, and scuffing bark. Although mechanical harvesting usually has not reduced yield, physiological consequences to the tree from these visible injuries have not been investigated. We hypothesized that physical injuries to tree canopies and root systems from a properly operated trunk shaker would not cause short-term physiological effects. Tree water status and leaf gas exchange of mature `Hamlin' and `Valencia' sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] trees that were harvested by a trunk shaker were compared to hand-harvested trees. A trunk shaker was operated with adequate duration to remove >90% of mature fruit or with excessive shaking time under various environmental conditions and drought stress treatments throughout the harvest season. Mid-day stem (Ψstem) and leaf (Ψleaf) water potentials along with leaf gas exchange were measured before and after harvest. Trees harvested by the trunk shaker did not develop altered water status under most conditions. Trees harvested with excessive shaking time and/or with limited soil water supply developed low Ψstem resembling Ψstem of drought-stressed trees. However, water potential of all treatments recovered to values of the well-irrigated, hand-harvested trees after rainfall. In addition, mechanical harvesting did not reduce CO2 assimilation, transpiration, stomatal conductance, water use efficiency, or photosystem II efficiency as measured by chlorophyll fluorescence. Thus, despite visible injuries, a properly operated trunk shaker did not result in any measurable physiological stress.

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Wansang Lim, Kenneth W. Mudge, and Jin Wook Lee

We determined the effect of moderate water stress on the growth of american ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), and on concentrations of six major ginsenosides (Rg1, Re, Rb1, Rc, Rb2, and Rd). Two-year-old “rootlets” (dormant rhizome and storage root) were cultivated in pots, in a cool greenhouse (18.3 ± 2 °C). Pots were watered either every 5 days (control) or every 10 days (stress), repeatedly for 8 days. Soil volumetric water content was measured during the last 10 days of the experiment for both treatments. Leaf water potential, measured on the last day of the experiment, was -0.43 MPa for the control and -0.83 MPa for the stress treatment. Drought stress did not affect above-ground shoot or root dry weight. Initial rootlet fresh weight (covariate) had a significant effect on the concentration of ginsenosides Re, Rb1, Rc, and Rb2. Drought stress increased the concentration of ginsenosides Re, Rb1, and total ginsenoside concentration.

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T.K. Hartz, P.R. Johnstone, and J.J. Nunez

Carrot (Daucus carota L.) root cracking and breakage during harvest and handling operations result in serious losses. The environmental and management factors affecting carrot cracking and breakage susceptibility were investigated in a survey of fields and a series of trials conducted in California from 2000–02. Roots, leaves and soil were collected from a total of 31 commercial fields of `Sugar Snax' carrot, and soil texture and plant and soil fertility status were determined. Soil moisture was monitored in 10 fields to determine whether irrigation management was correlated with root cracking susceptibility; in 4 of these fields roots were harvested both before 0800 hr and at 1300 hr on the same day to directly compare the effects of root water status on cracking. The effect of N fertilization on cracking and breakage was investigated in 5 field trials. The relative susceptibility of 10 cultivars to cracking and breakage was also compared. Cracking susceptibility was determined with an impact test, and breakage with a loading test. Roots were selected by size (18 to 24 mm diameter) and cooled to 5 °C before testing. The percentage of roots cracked in the impact test varied from 7% to 75% among survey fields. Initial root water potential was not correlated with cracking incidence. However, after hydrating roots to minimize differences in water potential among fields, cracking incidence was correlated with turgor potential (r = 0.41). Soil sand content and mean air temperature in the 30 days preceding harvest were also correlated with cracking (r = –0.48 and 0.36, respectively), suggesting that cracking susceptibility may be minimized in cool weather and in light-textured soil. Irrigation management in the final 30 days preceding harvest had no consistent effect on root cracking. Time of day of harvest had a small but significant effect, with roots harvested before 0800 hr being more crack-susceptible. N fertilization in excess of that required to maximize root yield significantly increased cracking susceptibility. Cultivars varied widely in cracking susceptibility, with less variation in tissue strength and stiffness. Removal of the periderm dramatically decreased susceptibility to both cracking and breakage.

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Coye A. Balok and Rolston St. Hilaire

Identification of tree taxa that can thrive on reduced moisture regimes mandated by xeriscape programs of the southwest United States could be facilitated if responses to drought of those taxa are determined. Leaf water relations, plant development, and cuticular wax content of seven taxa maintained as well-irrigated controls or exposed to drought and irrigated based on evapotranspiration were studied. Leaf water potential of drought-stressed Fraxinus velutina Torr. (Arizona ash), Koelreuteria paniculata Laxm. (golden rain tree), Quercus macrocarpa Michx. (bur oak), and Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm. (chinkapin oak) were lower at predawn than the controls. Drought-stressed plants of F. velutina, K. paniculata, and Quercus lobata Née (California white oak) had more negative midday water potential than the control plants. Drought reduced stomatal conductance to as little as 17%, 23%, and 45% of controls in F. velutina, K. paniculata, and Q. macrocarpa, respectively. Drought-stressed plants of F. velutina, K. paniculata, Q. macrocarpa, and Q. muehlenbergii had reduced transpiration rates. Fraxinus velutina had both the highest net assimilation rate (NAR) and relative growth rate (RGR) regardless of irrigation treatment. Mean specific leaf weight (dry weight (DW) of a 1-cm2 leaf disc divided by the weight), trichome density, stomatal density, leaf thickness, and cuticular wax content varied among species but not between irrigation treatments. Leaves of Q. buckleyi Buckl. (Texas red oak) had one of the highest stomatal densities, and also had leaves which were among the waxiest, most dense, and thickest. Abaxial leaf surfaces of F. velutina were the most pubescent. Across species, drought led to lower ratios of leaf surface area to root DW, and leaf DW to root DW. Quercus buckleyi plants subjected to drought had the highest root to shoot DW ratio (3.1). The low relative growth rate of Q. buckleyi might limit widespread landscape use. However, Q. buckleyi may merit increased use in landscapes on a reduced moisture budget because of foliar traits, carbon allocation patterns, and the relative lack of impact of drought on plant tissue water relations.

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Daniel I. Leskovar and Ronald R. Heineman

Two studies were conducted to determine how greenhouse irrigation systems alter root elongation, root morphology, shoot growth, and water status of `TAM-Mild Jalapeño-1' pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) seedlings. Transplants were grown in containerized trays for 48 days in a greenhouse. Irrigation systems were 1) flotation (FI), 2) 28 days FI plus 14 days overhead (OI; FI + OI), 3) alternate OI and FI (OI–FI), and 4) OI. FI and OI–FI transplants maintained a uniform lateral root length increase between 20 and 41 days after seeding (DAS). In FI + OI and OI transplants, lateral root elongation tended to plateau at ≈31 DAS; however, by increasing the number and length (33%) of basal roots, OI transplants had a total root growth compensation during the remaining growth period. At 41 DAS, OI transplants had a higher shoot: root ratio (S: R = 5) and maintained a higher shoot water potential (Ψstem = –0.58) than FI transplants (S: R = 3; Ψstem= –0.69 MPa, respectively). In the second study, OI transplants maintained higher Ψstem than FI transplants. The latter had a lower stomatal conductance and photosynthesis rate than OI and FI + OI transplants. FI may be used to lower the S: R ratio and promote hardiness in jalapeño transplants.

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Mebelo Mataa and Shigeto Tominaga

The effects of root restriction, induced by root restriction bags, was evaluated on `Yoshida' Ponkan mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco). Trees were planted in 0.02-m3 volume root wrap bags (RWBs), which were made from woven polystyrene fiber, or root control bags (RCBs) made from nonwoven UV-stabilized Duon polystyrene fibre with plastic bottoms. A direct soil planted, nonrestricted root treatment (DPC) was included as a control. After 3 years, reductions in height (14% to 29%), canopy volume (66% to 43%), girth (10% to 22%), and leaf area (8% to 12%) were recorded in both of the root restriction treatments. Greater reductions occurred in the RWB treatment. Photosynthesis, transpiration, water potential, and leaf carbohydrate content were not affected by root restriction although soil moisture content was lower in the root restricted treatments. Fruiting efficiency (i.e., number of fruit per unit volume of tree canopy) improved only in the RWB treatment over the control. Total soluble solids and the fruit color index were enhanced by root restriction.