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Rebecca L. Darnell

Containerized `Climax' and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to 5 weeks of natural daylengths (i.e. gradually decreasing daylengths from 12 to 11 hr) or shortened daylengths (i.e. gradually decreasing daylengths from 10 to 8 hr) starting October 1. `Beckyblue' initiated twice as many flower buds under short days compared to longer days. The following spring, `Beckyblue' plants exposed to shortened photoperiods the previous fall had a greater percentage of floral budbreak (based on the number of flower buds formed within each treatment) and a shorter, more concentrated bloom period than did plants exposed to longer photoperiods the previous fall. Fresh weight per berry increased following the short fall photoperiod treatment, despite the fact that fruit number was higher. `Climax' did not respond to the photoperiod treatments in any way. Leaf carbon assimilation rates of both cultivars increased under short days, but there was no detectable effect of photoperiod on current carbon partitioning in either cultivar, suggesting that flower bud initiation is not limited by current source leaf assimilate supply under these conditions.

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Rebecca L. Darnell

Containerized `Climax' and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to 5 weeks of natural daylengths or shortened daylengths starting 30 Sept. `Beckyblue' plants exposed to short daylengths in the fall initiated more flower buds and had a shorter, more concentrated bloom period than did plants exposed to natural fall daylengths. Reproductive development of `Climax' was not influenced by photoperiod treatments. Leaf carbon assimilation of both cultivars increased under short days. Partitioning of translocated 14C-labeled assimilates to stem tissue increased under short photoperiods for `Beckyblue'; however, partitioning patterns in `Climax' were not affected. Increased carbon fixation and increased partitioning of carbon to stem tissue under short days may contribute to the observed effect of short days on enhancing reproductive development in `Beckyblue'.

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Umpika Poonnachit and Rebecca L. Darnell

Vaccinium corymbosum, one of the cultivated blueberry species, is not well-adapted to mineral soils, which are generally marked by high pH, the predominance of NO3-N over NH4-N, and limited iron availability. A wild species, V. arboreum, grows naturally on mineral soils, and thus may be better adapted than V. corymbosum. This adaptation may be related to the ability of V. arboreum to assimilate NO3 and/or iron more efficiently than V. corymbosum. Both species were grown in a hydroponic solution containing 5.0 mM N as (NH4)2SO4 or NaNO3, and buffered to pH 5.5. Nitrate reductase (NR) and iron reductase (FeR) activities were measured. NR activity was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum when grown with N03-N, while no difference between species was observed when grown under NH4-N. Activity of FeR was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum, and higher under NO3-N compared with NH4-N. After 5 months in hydroponics, Fe was removed from one-half of the solutions. The activity of NRA in both species was higher under Fe-sufficient compared with Fe-limited conditions, but in both cases, activity was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum. FeR activity continued to be higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum, and under NO3 compared with NH4-N. Activity decreased in both species under limited Fe conditions, and there were no interactions between species and Fe. These data indicate that V. arboreum possesses higher NR and FeR activities than V. corymbosum, under both Fe-sufficient and Fe-limited conditions. This may play a role in the better adaptability of V arboreum to mineral soil conditions.

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Rebecca L. Darnell and Steven A. Hiss

Most Vaccinium species have narrow soil adaptation and are limited to soils that have low pH, high available iron (Fe), and nitrogen (N) primarily in the ammonium (NH4+) form. Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. is a wild species that can tolerate a wider range of soil conditions, including higher pH and nitrate (NO3-) as the predominant N form. This wider soil adaptation may be related to the ability of V. arboreum to acquire Fe and NO3- more efficiently than cultivated Vaccinium species, such as V. corymbosum L. interspecific hybrid (southern highbush). Nitrate and Fe uptake, and nitrate reductase (NR) and ferric chelate reductase (FCR) activities were compared in these two species grown hydroponically in either 1.0 or 5.0 mm NO3-. Nitrate uptake rate (on a whole-plant and FW basis) and root NR activity were significantly greater in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum. Iron uptake on a FW basis was also greater in V. arboreum, and was correlated with higher root FCR activity than was found in V. corymbosum. Increased Fe and NO3- uptake/assimilation in V. arboreum were reflected in increased organ and whole-plant dry weights compared with V. corymbosum. Vaccinium arboreum appears to be more efficient in acquiring and assimilating NO3- and Fe than is the cultivated species, V. corymbosum. This may partially explain the wider soil adaptation of V. arboreum.

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Peter A.W. Swain and Rebecca L. Darnell

Two cultivars of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrid) were grown in containers under the traditional deciduous production system, or the dormancy-avoiding evergreen production system. In the dormancy-avoiding system, plants are maintained evergreen and do not enter dormancy in the winter. This alleviates the chilling requirement, thus extending the potential growing area of blueberries into subtropical regions. Plants in the evergreen production system were maintained in active growth through weekly or biweekly N fertilization (≈21–23 g N/ plant per year). Keeping foliage through the year lengthens the duration of the photosynthetic season of the plant and is hypothesized to improve the carbohydrate (CHO) status of the evergreen plants. This, in turn, may decrease source limitations to reproductive development and potentially increase fruit number and/or size. In both cultivars, the evergreen production system advanced the time of anthesis by 3 to 4 weeks compared to the deciduous production system. Plants in the evergreen system initiated 10% to 25% more flower buds than plants in the deciduous system, depending on cultivar. Average leaf area, leaf fresh weight, total above-ground fresh weight, bud density, and cane length were greater in the evergreen plants than deciduous. The evergreen production system increased plant fresh weight and flower bud number compared to the deciduous system, and may ultimately increase yield.

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Rebecca L. Darnell and Jimmy G. Cheek

Graduate student enrollment in the plant sciences has decreased over the past several years, and there is increasing interest in recruitment/retention strategies. Before successful strategies can be implemented, however, the status of current plant science graduate programs needs to be determined. Survey data on graduate student demographics, research area, support levels, current recruitment strategies, and career opportunities were collected from 23 plant science graduate programs. Overall, 55% of graduate students in plant sciences were male and 45% were female; approximately 60% were domestic and 40% were international. Cellular/molecular biology and breeding/genetics were the two disciplines that had the greatest number of graduate students and the greatest number of job opportunities. Although most programs cited financial support as the biggest obstacle to recruitment, there was not a strong correlation between graduate student number/program and stipend amount. However, other funding factors besides stipend amount; such as stipend number, the guarantee of multiple years of support, the funding of tuition waivers, and health insurance costs, likely impact student number. As more of these costs are shifted to faculty, there appears to be an increasing inability and/or reluctance to invest grant funds (which support 60% of the plant science graduate students) in graduate student education. These data suggest that the decline in plant science graduate student enrollment may not be directly due to low stipend amounts, but rather to shifting of more of the total cost of graduate training to faculty, who may be unable/unwilling to bear the cost. There is also a clear shift in the research focus of plant science graduate students, as postdoctoral and career opportunities are weighted towards molecular biology/genetics, leaving the more applied plant science areas particularly vulnerable to low graduate enrollment.

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Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell

Ammonium and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} uptake and partitioning were monitored in `Sharpblue' southern highbush blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum L. interspecific hybrid) using 10% 15N-enriched N. Shoots and roots were harvested at 0, 6, 12, 24, and 48 hours after labeling. The rate of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\) \end{document} uptake was higher than that of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\) \end{document} uptake, averaging 17.1 vs. 8.6 g N/g plant dry weight per hour during the 48-hour period for \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\mathrm{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\mathrm{-treated}\) \end{document} plants, respectively. At the end of the 48 hours, \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\) \end{document} accumulation averaged 79 mg N/plant compared to 40 mg accumulated by the \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\mathrm{-treated}\) \end{document} plants. Similarly, the translocation rate of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\) \end{document} to shoots was higher than translocation of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\) \end{document} to shoots (7.7 vs. 1.9 g N/g shoot dry weight per hour, respectively) during the 48 hours. Shoot accumulation of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\) \end{document} averaged 40 mg N/plant at the end of 48 hours, while accumulation in shoots of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\mathrm{-}\mathrm{N}\mathrm{-treated}\) \end{document} plants averaged 10 mg N/plant. Short-term \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} uptake and translocation to shoots appears to be limited relative to \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} uptake and translocation in southern highbush blueberry when plants are previously fertilized with NH4NO3.

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Raouel Cano-Medrano and Rebecca L. Darnell

Exogenous applications of GA, have induced pathenocarpic fruit set in blueberry; however, size of GA,-treated fruit is smaller than pollinated fruit. The small fruit size in GA3-treated fruit may be related to either cell number and/or cell size. Thus, these parameters were examined throughout development in pollinated, non-pollinated and GA3-treated fruits. Fruit growth followed a double sigmoid pattern. During Stage I (0-25 DAA), fruit size in GA,-treated, pollinated, and non-pollinated fruits averaged 0.33, 0.39, and 0.16 g, respectively. There was little change in fruit size in Stage II (25-45 DAA). At ripening, fruit size averaged 1.7 g for GA,-treated and 2.6 g for pollinated fruits. Non-pollinated fruit abscised in Stage II. At anthesis, mesocarp cell number averaged 9910 cells per median cross sectional area and remained constant up to ripening. In Stage I, cell size in G A3-treated and pollinated fruits increased 7X and 9X respectively. Cell size in both fruit types increased 1.5X and 2.8X during Stage II and Stage 111, respectively. Fruit cell number was set at anthesis and differences in fruit size were due to differences in cell ellongation in Stage I.

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Raguel Cano—M and Rebecca L. Darnell

The effects of different GA3 concentrations and application times on fruit set, fruit development period, and fruit quality in rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were studied. Flower clusters were sprayed with 100 or 250 ppm GA3 at 90% full bloom and again 7 days later, or with 125 ppm GA3 at 90% full bloom and again 7, 21, and 42 days later, under greenhouse conditions. Fruit set was monitored every 10 days and fruit weight, fruit development period, soluble solids, and titratable acidity were measured at harvest.

Fruit set in GA3 treatments averaged 69 to 76% compared to an average of 43% for the pollinated control. Weight of GA3 treated berries averaged 1.2, g while that of pollinated berries averaged 2.0 g. However, calculated total yield was greater for the GA3 treatments compared to the pollinated control, averaging 244 and 206 g/treatment, respectively. GA3 increased the fruit development period by 2 to 11 days, depending on the treatment. Soluble solids and titratable acidity were not affected by any treatment.

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Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell

Nitrogen uptake and N and C partitioning were evaluated in `Sharpblue' southern highbush blueberries fertilized with different N forms. Plants were grown in acid-washed silica sand and fertilized with a modified Hoagland's solution supplemented with 5.0 mm N as NH4 + or NO3 -. Nutrient solution pH was adjusted to 3.0 and 6.5 for the NO3 - and NH4 +-treated plants, respectively. After 12 months of growth, plants were dual labeled with 14CO2 and 10% enriched 15N-N as either NaNO3 or (NH4)2SO4 and harvested 12 hours after labeling. Fertilization with NO3 --N increased leaf, stem, and root dry weights compared to NH4 + fertilization. Total 15N uptake did not differ between N fertilization treatments, thus whole plant and root 15N concentrations were greater in NH4 +-fertilized vs. NO3 --fertilized plants. Fertilization with NO3 --N increased C partitioning to new shoots compared to NH4 +-fertilized plants. However, C partitioning to other plant parts was not affected by N form. Although NO3 - uptake in blueberry appears to be restricted relative to NH4 + uptake, this limitation does not inhibit vegetative growth. Additionally, there appears to be adequate available carbohydrate to support concurrent vegetative growth and N assimilation, regardless of N form.