The present study investigated growth properties and flowering response of seed-propagated strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) seedlings under artificial lighting with different photoperiods to support the development of a high-performance system for the indoor production of strawberry plug transplants. Seedlings of ‘Elan’ and ‘Yotsuboshi’ were grown for 38 days under sunlight in a greenhouse or under light-emitting diode (LED) illumination with photoperiods of 8/16, 12/12, 16/8, or 24/0 hours (light/dark) in growth chambers. The photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) in these photoperiods was maintained at 350, 230, 175, or 115 μmol·m−2·s−1, respectively, to provide the same daily light integral (DLI) of 10 mol·m−2·d−1. The average of DLI of sunlight was 9.9 mol·m−2·d−1. Seedling growth was greater with the 16- and 24-hour photoperiods than with sunlight even though all three treatments provided about the same DLI. Flower buds of the seedlings grown under longer photoperiods started significantly earlier after transplanting in ‘Elan’ but not in ‘Yotsuboshi’. Thus, strawberry transplant production under artificial lighting with an optimized photoperiod can provide high-quality transplants, although the effectiveness is cultivar-specific.
Johshin Tsuruyama and Toshio Shibuya
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.
Toshio Shibuya, Akihito Sugimoto, Yoshiaki Kitaya, and Makoto Kiyota
To evaluate the effects of plant density on gas exchanges under water stress resulting from high vapor-pressure deficit (VPD), we measured net photosynthetic rate (P n), transpiration rate, and leaf conductance (g l) of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings before and after raising the VPD at different plant densities. Measurements were conducted continuously using a chamber and weighing method. Five, nine, or 12 seedlings with leaf area index (LAI) of 0.39, 0.73, and 1.10, respectively, were placed in the assimilation chamber. The average VPD in the chamber was raised from 1.1 to 3.7 kPa 30 min after the starting measurement. The P n and g l decreased after raising the VPD above the plant community from 1.1 to 3.7 kPa. The VPD near the leaf surface (measured with 3-mm diameter humidity sensors) decreased with increasing LAI of the plant community, whereas average VPD in the whole chamber did not change with LAI. We noted significant negative correlations between the VPD near the leaf surface and P n and g l. These results indicate that higher plant density mitigates the inhibition of photosynthesis resulting from high VPD by maintaining a lower VPD near the leaf surface with the development of a thicker boundary layer above the canopy.
Kaori Itagaki, Toshio Shibuya, Motoaki Tojo, Ryosuke Endo, and Yoshiaki Kitaya
The development of powdery mildew fungus (Podosphaera xanthii) is suppressed on cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings acclimatized to higher red-to-far-red ratio (R:FR) than natural R:FR (≈1.2), but its early development and any limiting factors are still unclear. The present study evaluated conidial germination, initial invasion, and subsequent development of P. xanthii on cucumber seedlings raised under light-emitting diode (LED) lights with R:FRs of 1.2, 5.0, or 10. There were no differences in conidial germination or initial invasion between the treatments, so there was no effect of acclimatization to R:FR on either. But, the development of hyphae, hyphal cells, and haustoria after inoculation were suppressed on seedlings acclimatized to higher R:FR. Because differences occurred only after the initial invasion, nonstructural properties of the host leaves may have affected conidial development. Higher R:FR also suppressed conidial development under natural light filtered through a photo-selective film, which absorbs near-infrared (NIR)-light. However, this effect was reduced when the plants were moved to natural R:FR after inoculation, possibly because of reacclimatization of the seedlings.
Toshio Shibuya, Kaori Itagaki, Motoaki Tojo, Ryosuke Endo, and Yoshiaki Kitaya
We investigated the effects of fluorescent illumination with a high red-to-far-red ratio (R:FR) on the resistance of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seedlings to powdery mildew fungus (Sphaerotheca cucurbitae; PM). Seedlings were grown at a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 300 μmol·m−2·s−1 provided by fluorescent lamps with high R:FR light (R:FR = 7.0; FLH) or low R:FR light (R:FR = 1.1; FLL) until cotyledons or the first foliage leaf were fully expanded. Spores of PM were then inoculated onto the leaves, and the seedlings were grown for 7 days (from cotyledon stage) or 9 days (from foliage–leaf stage) under FLH. The number of PM colonies on FLH seedlings was 0.80× (cotyledons) and 0.62× (foliage leaves) the number on FLL seedlings. The reduction on the FLH seedlings was probably the result of changes in leaf morphological characteristics such as a thicker epidermal tissue as a result of the higher R:FR illumination. The number of PM colonies on cotyledons of the FLH seedlings was also smaller than that on seedlings grown under metal-halide lamps providing a spectrum similar to that of natural light (R:FR = 1.2).
Kaori Itagaki, Toshio Shibuya, Motoaki Tojo, Ryosuke Endo, and Yoshiaki Kitaya
The present study evaluated the development of powdery mildew fungus (Podosphaera xanthii) on leaves of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) acclimatized to different CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) to examine plant–pathogen interactions under the wide range of [CO2] that can occur in greenhouse cultivation. Seedlings of resistant and nonresistant cultivars were acclimatized to reduced (200 µmol·mol−1), ambient (400 µmol·mol−1), or elevated (1000 µmol·mol−1) [CO2]. Powdery mildew spores were inoculated onto the adaxial surface of cotyledons or first true leaves, and colonization was measured after 7 days. Colony density decreased as acclimatization [CO2] increased at the cotyledon stage but increased at the first-true-leaf stage in both cultivars. This result implies that when the effects of [CO2] on plant–pathogen interactions are described, growing stage must be specified. The acclimatization [CO2] was correlated positively with leaf mass per area, dry matter content, and carbon (C) content and negatively with nitrogen (N) content at both stages. Therefore, these leaf properties could not explain the changes in host-plant susceptibility between stages. The effect of acclimatization [CO2] was greater on the resistant cultivar than on the nonresistant cultivar, indicating that the resistant cultivar was more responsive.
Toshio Shibuya, Yoshiaki Kitaya, Toyoki Kozai, and Masaichi Nakahara
Net photosynthetic and evapotranspiration rates of tomato (LAI = 2.3) and lettuce (LAI = 6.6) plug sheets were estimated based on measurements of the weight of plug sheets and vertical profiles of CO2 concentration above the plug sheets. The measurements were continued in situ for several days in a greenhouse when plugs were at transplant stage. The maximum net photosynthetic rates of tomato and lettuce plug sheets were 0.8 and 2.0 mg CO2/m2 per sec on a plug sheet area basis, respectively. The maximum evapotranspiration rates of those sheets were 100 mg·m–2·s–1. Net photosynthetic and evapotranspiration rates of tomato and lettuce plug sheets increased linearly with an increase in solar radiation flux, with a correlation coefficient of 0.9.
Toshio Shibuya, Ryosuke Endo, Yuki Kitamura, Yoshiaki Kitaya, and Nobuaki Hayashi
To evaluate the effect of fluorescent lamps with a high red:far-red (R:FR) light on the potential photosynthesis of transplants, we investigated the photosynthetic light responses of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings grown under fluorescent lamps with high R:FR light (FLH) and compared them with the responses of the seedlings grown under metal-halide lamps (ML) that provided a spectrum similar to that of natural light and under a fluorescent lamp with low R:FR light (FLL). The seedlings were grown under FLH (R:FR = 7.0), ML (R:FR = 1.2), or FLL (R:FR = 1.1) at a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 350 μmol·m−2·s−1. The gross photosynthetic rate (Pg), quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII), and photosynthetic electron transfer rate (ETR) of the foliage leaves were then evaluated at PPFDs ranging from 0 to 1000 μmol·m−2·s−1. The photosynthetic light response of FLH seedlings was similar to those of sun leaves, and the responses of ML and FLL seedlings were similar to those of shade leaves. The Pg, ETR, and ΦPSII of FLH seedlings at PPFD of 1000 μmol·m−2·s−1 was 1.38, 1.32, and 1.28 times, respectively, those of ML seedlings, and was 1.40, 1.23, and 1.22 times, respectively, those of FLL seedlings. The Pg was closely correlated with ETR in each treatment. FLH seedlings had thicker leaf and greater chlorophyll content per leaf area than ML and FLL seedlings. The greater Pg of FLH seedlings than in the other two groups of seedlings at high PPFD was probably the result of the improved ETR resulting from physiological and morphological changes in response to the high R:FR light.
Toshio Shibuya, Ryosuke Endo, Yoshiaki Kitaya, and Mizuki Tsuchida
The light competition in dense plant stands may be disadvantageous in transplant production because competition stimulates stem elongation and can reduce photosynthate allocation to leaves; this, in turn, may reduce the early growth rate after transplanting. In this study, we focused on how the proportion of far-red (FR) light affected light competition among cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings and investigated the effects of the plant density × FR interaction on photosynthate allocation and subsequent early growth after transplanting. Seedlings at the cotyledon stage were planted into plug trays at densities ranging from 109 to 1736 plants/m2; then they were grown for 4 days under light-emitting diode (LED) light containing FR light (FR+) at approximately the same red-to-FR ratio as in sunlight (1.2) or under light containing no FR (FR−). The higher density significantly stimulated stem elongation under both FR+ and FR−, but the effect was small under FR−; this indicates that light competition in the dense stands was inhibited by reducing FR light. The higher plant density significantly increased photosynthate allocation to the stem and decreased allocation to the leaves under both FR+ and FR−; however, again, the effect was smaller under FR−. After transplanting the seedlings to pots, early growth decreased in the seedlings that allocated less photosynthate to their leaves. Our results indicate that light with reduced FR can mitigate the disadvantageous photosynthate allocation of transplants and the reduction of early growth after transplanting that are likely to occur as a result of light competition at high plant density.
Toshio Shibuya, Ryosuke Endo, Yoshiaki Kitaya, and Saki Hayashi
Light with a higher red to far-red ratio (R:FR) than sunlight reduces plant growth, but the cause has not been firmly established. In the present study, cucumber seedlings were grown under normal light (similar to sunlight; R:FR = 1.4) from metal-halide lamps or high-R:FR light (R:FR = 4.3) created by transmitting their light through FR-absorbing film, and then their growth parameters and photosynthesis were compared. The relative growth rate (RGR) at high R:FR was 92% of that under normal R:FR, although the net assimilation rate (NAR) did not differ between the treatments, indicating that changes in net photosynthesis per unit leaf area did not cause the growth inhibition at high R:FR. The CO2 exchange per unit leaf area did not differ between the treatments, which supports this hypothesis. The leaf area ratio (LAR) of total plant dry weight of high R:FR seedlings to that of normal R:FR seedlings was also 92%. This suggests that growth suppression in the high R:FR seedlings was caused mainly by decreased LAR. The specific leaf area (SLA) and leaf weight ratio (LWR), components of LAR, under high-R:FR light were 89% and 105%, respectively, of those under normal light, indicating that the smaller LAR at high R:FR mainly results from suppressed leaf enlargement per unit leaf dry matter.