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Shugang Zhao, Jiamin Niu, Linying Yun, Kai Liu, Shuang Wang, Jing Wen, Hongxia Wang and ZhiHua Zhang

The role of the walnut (Juglans regia L.) shell in nut development, transportation, cleaning, and storage is often ignored. The shell suture seal and thickness are directly associated with kernel characteristics. In the present study, shell differentiation and microstructure were observed with an optical microscope using paraffin-sectioning and cryosectioning. The results showed that the parenchymal cells of the endocarp began to differentiate into sclerenchymal cells from 49 d after flowering (DAF), and the entire process continued until fruit maturation. The mature shell consists of three parts, including the sclereid layer (L1), sclerenchymal cell layer (L2), and shrunken cell layer (L3), from the outside to the inside. The shell thickness, suture seal grade, and mechanical strength were evaluated, as well as the lignin, cellulose, and phenolic compounds of the shell. Suture seal grade was positively correlated with lignin content, shell thickness, and L1 thickness and negatively correlated with shell cell diameter. Similarly, the mechanical strength of the shell was positively correlated with lignin content and L1 thickness. ‘Qingxing’ fruits were subjected to two treatments, namely, 30% shading and 70% shading, from 10 d after anthesis to maturity, with no shading used as control. After harvesting in September, nutshell sections showed thinner shells, with decreased contents of lignin and polyphenols, obtained under shaded conditions, and two of the three parts of the shell changed dramatically. The thinning of L1 and thickening of L3 eventually led to a thinner shell. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship among the shell structure, cellular components, and physical properties and provide a theoretical basis for cultivar breeding, rational planting density, and regulation of shell development.

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Jia-yi Wang, Jian-shuang Shen, Mengmeng Gu, Jia Wang, Tang-ren Cheng, Hui-tang Pan and Qi-xiang Zhang

Yellow-leafed cultivars usually do not grow as vigorous as their green-leafed counterparts, which affect their use in landscapes. To breed Forsythia cultivars with both yellow leaves and vigorous growth, crosses between F. ‘Courtaneur’ (♀) and Forsythia koreana ‘Suwon Gold’ (♂) were conducted, and 52 F1 hybrid progenies with different leaf colors (green, chartreuse, and yellow) were obtained. The progenies were categorized into three groups [Yellow Group (YG), Chartreuse Group (CG), and Green Group (GG)] based on leaf colors. The growth index (GI) and the number of branches and leaves of YG progenies were significantly lower at 2%, 35%, and 34% of GG progenies. As the leaves changed from green to chartreuse and to yellow, chlorophyll content, leaf thickness, and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters decreased and the chloroplast structures were disintegrated gradually, which influenced the leaf photosynthetic activity and led to weak growth. Compared with yellow-leafed progenies, the leaf chlorophyll content and leaf thickness of chartreuse-leafed progenies were significantly higher at 71% and 9%. The chloroplast structure of stroma lamella of chartreuse-leafed progenies was relatively intact. Carboxylation efficiency (CE), photochemical efficiency of PS II (F v/F m), and the number of branches and leaves of GG progenies were significantly higher than YG progenies; however, they have no significant difference with CG progenies. The results were promising for breeding new forsythia cultivars from moderate growth and chartreuse leaves.

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Haishan An, Jiajia Meng, Fangjie Xu, Shuang Jiang, Xiaoqing Wang, Chunhui Shi, Boqiang Zhou, Jun Luo and Xueying Zhang

Vegetative propagation by cuttings is a very popular method. However, blueberry propagation using cuttings is still a main factor limiting its expansion because its results can vary according to the blueberry cultivar and environmental factors. This study aimed to evaluate the rooting abilities of hardwood cuttings for six blueberry cultivars (O’Neal, Misty, Diana, Biloxi, Bluebeauty, and Coville) using three different exogenous indole-butyric acid (IBA) concentrations (1000, 2000, and 3000 ppm), and to determine if the cutting position (basal, central, apical) affects rooting performance. A control treatment (0 ppm IBA) was also performed. After 90 days of each treatment, rooting percentage, average root length, and average root number per cutting were assessed and used to calculate rooting index, which is a measure of rooting ability. The rooting percentages of hardwood cuttings differed largely among cultivars and were highest for ‘Bluebeauty’ (68.55%), followed by ‘Biloxi’ (68.01%). The rooting index values of these two cultivars (33.59 and 35.18, respectively) were significantly higher than those of the other four cultivars. The rooting response of blueberry hardwood cuttings to IBA concentrations was quadratic, and 1000 and 2000 ppm IBA were sufficient to express the maximum rooting percentage in most cultivars. The rooting abilities of basal, central, and apical cuttings were similar with treatments with high IBA concentrations. The effects of the cultivar, IBA concentration, and interaction between them on rooting percentage, average root length, and average root number were significant; however, the effects of the cutting position on the rooting percentage and average root length were not. This suggested that the rooting abilities of blueberry hardwood cuttings were significantly influenced by the cultivar and IBA concentration rather than by the cutting position.