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Kaitlin Barrios and John M. Ruter

Swamp sunflower (Helianthus simulans) is an underused perennial plant native to the southeastern United States that produces an abundance of golden yellow inflorescences in the fall. It is a vigorous grower and tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions, growing in wetland and nonwetland habitats. Swamp sunflower warrants wider use in perennial beds and landscapes, and research on production practices to make plants more suitable for shipping could promote its production. This study evaluated the effects of plant growth regulators (PGRs) on the growth and floral attributes of the swamp sunflower. Treatments were applied to rooted cuttings in 1-gal pots as a substrate drench of 1, 2, 4, or 6 mg/pot paclobutrazol; 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 mg/pot flurprimidol; or water (control)/pot for Expt. 1. A second experiment (Expt. 2) applied 4, 6, or 8 mg/pot paclobutrazol; 2, 4, or 6 mg/pot flurprimidol; or water (control)/pot. Six weeks after treatment (WAT) for Expt. 1, paclobutrazol applied at 4 and 6 mg/pot and flurprimidol at 2 and 4 mg/pot resulted in smaller plants (as reflected by growth index) by 29%, 34%, 22%, and 48%, respectively, compared with the control. Furthermore, at the termination (6 WAT) of Expt. 1, the highest rate of flurprimidol produced the smallest plants, with the exception of the highest rate of paclobutrazol. By 6 WAT, plants treated with the highest rate of paclobutrazol and flurprimidol had lower dry weights and higher chlorophyll measurements than control. All PGR treatments for Expt. 2 resulted in smaller plants than the control by 27% to 36% at 4 WAT and 23% to 41% at 6 WAT. Differences for internode length and flower diameter were observed for Expts. 1 and 2, respectively. Results from these experiments suggest a substrate drench application of 6 mg/pot paclobutrazol or 4 mg/pot flurprimidol can be used for producing smaller plants compared with nontreated plants for swamp sunflower under greenhouse conditions.

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Ryan N. Contreras and John M. Ruter

Genome size estimates and chromosome number information can be useful for studying the evolution or taxonomy of a group and also can be useful for plant breeders in predicting cross-compatibility. Callicarpa L. is a group of ≈140 species with nearly worldwide distribution. There are no estimates of genome size in the literature and the information on chromosome numbers is limited. Genome size estimates based on flow cytometry are reported here for 16 accessions of Callicarpa comprising 14 species in addition to chromosome counts on six species. Chromosome counts were conducted by staining meristematic cells of roots tips using modified carbol fuchsin. Holoploid genome size estimates ranged from 1.34 pg to 3.48 pg with a mean of 1.74 pg. Two tetraploids (2n = 4x = 68; C. salicifolia P'ei & W. Z. Fang and C. macrophylla Vahl GEN09-0081) were identified based on holoploid genome size and confirmed by chromosome counts. There was little variation among species for monoploid genome size. 1Cx-values ranged from 0.67 pg to 0.88 pg with a mean of 0.77 pg. Chromosome counts for six species revealed a base chromosome number of x = 17. Callicarpa chejuensis Y. H. Chung & H. Kim, C. japonica Thunb. ‘Leucocarpa’, C. longissima Merr., and C. rubella Lindl. were confirmed as diploids (2n = 2x = 34). Cytology supported flow cytometry data that C. salicifolia and C. macrophylla GEN09-0081 were tetraploids. The two accessions of C. macrophylla included in the study were found to be of different ploidy levels. The presence of two ploidy levels among and within species indicates that polyploidization events have occurred in the genus.

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John M. Ruter and Hendrik van de Werken

The effect of container design on physical parameters of media with different bulk densities was evaluated. A significant interaction between container design and media for water-holding capacity and air space was found. A container with a polyester fabric bottom had the largest media air space and the smallest water-holding capacity after 24 h of drainage when placed on a column of sand to allow for free drainage from the container medium. For the media tested, a blend of composted pine bark and hardwood bark (PB:HB) appeared to have good physical characteristics for a container medium in the container designs that were evaluated. Container design should be considered when selecting a container medium because physical parameters of a given medium will be influenced.

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Thomas G. Ranney and John M. Ruter

Temperature sensitivity of CO2 assimilation (ACO2), dark respiration, and chlorophyll fluorescence was evaluated among three taxa of hollies including I. aquifolium L., I. cornuta Lindl. & Paxt., and I. rugosa Friedr. Schmidt. Variations in foliar heat tolerance among these species were manifested in temperature responses for ACO2. Temperature optima of ACO2 for I. rugosa, I. cornuta, and I. aquifolium were 22.0, 26.3, and 27.9 °C, respectively (LSD0.05 = 2.9). Temperature responses of respiration were similar among taxa and did not appear to be contributing factors to variations in ACO2. At 40 °C, potential photosynthetic capacity, measured under saturating CO2, was 4.1, 9.4, and 14.8 μmol·m-2·s-1 for I. rugosa, I. aquifolium, and I. cornuta, respectively (LSD0.05 = 5.1). Variations in the relative dark-acclimated fluorescence temperature curves were used to assess thresholds for irreversible heat injury. The critical fluorescence temperature threshold (TC) was similar (48.0 °C) for all taxa. The fluorescence temperature peaks (TP) were 52.0, 52.8, and 53.5 °C for I. rugosa, I. cornuta, and I. aquifolium, respectively (LSD0.05 = 0.9). Based on these results, I. rugosa was the most heat-sensitive species, followed by I. aquifolium and I. cornuta. Ilex cornuta also had substantially greater potential photosynthetic capacity than the other species at 40 °C, indicating superior metabolic tolerance to high temperatures.

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John M. Ruter and Dewayne L. Ingram

Respiration of excised Ilex crenata `Rotundifolia' roots as influenced by root-zone growth temperature and buffer solution temperature was measured in the presence and absence of SHAM and KCN. Respiration rates of roots excised from plants grown for three weeks at root-zone temperatures of 30, 34, 38, and 42 C decreased linearly as root-zone temperature increased when the buffer solution was maintained at 25 C. When the buffer solution temperature was the same as the root growth temperature, no differences in respiration rate were found. When plants were grown at a root-zone temperature of 30 C, respiration was maximal at 34 C and decreased to a minimum at 46 C. Above 46 C, stimulation of O2 consumption occurred which was presumed to be extra-mitochondrial. CN-resistant pathway activity decreased at a buffer solution temperature of 46 C which was similar to the critical threshold temperature (48±1.5 C) for `Rotundifolia' holly roots.

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John M. Ruter and Dewayne L. Ingram

Ilex crenata Thunb. `Rotundifolia' split-root plants were grown for 3 weeks with root zones at 30/30, 30/34, 30/38, 30/42, 34/34, 38/38, and 42/42C. The 38C root-zone treatment was the upper threshold for several growth and physiological characteristics. A portion of the root system grown at or near the optimum temperature could compensate, in terms of shoot growth, for part of the root system exposed to supraoptimal root-zone temperatures up to 38C. Higher root-zone temperatures did not affect short-term photosynthetic rates or root : shoot ratios, but altered photosynthate partitioning to various stem and root sinks. Although no differences were found for total 14C partitioned to the roots, partitioning of 14C into soluble and insoluble fractions and the magnitude of root respiration and exudation were influenced by treatment. Heating half of a root system at 38C increased the amount of 14C respired from the heated side and increased the total CO2respired from the nonheated (30C) half. Exposure of both root halves to 42C resulted in membrane damage that increased the loss of 14C-labeled photosynthates through leakage into the medium.

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John M. Ruter and Dewayne L. Ingram

Seeds of Sophora secundiflora (Ort.) Lag ex. DC. (mescal bean) were scarified with hot water or concentrated sulfuric acid to determine an optimal pretreatment for successful germination. Scanning electron micrographs indicated that the acid scarification treatment removed the seed cuticle. One-year-old seeds were successfully stored and germinated ≈2 days sooner than from the current year if both were given an acid pretreatment. Germination rate increased as acid pretreatment time increased from 30 to 120 minutes. Soaking seeds in water at room temperature or in hot water (initially 93C) for 24 hours had no effect on germination.

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John M. Ruter and Dewayne L. Ingram

Ilex crenata Thunb. `Rotundifolia' split-root plants were grown for 3 weeks at root-zone temperatures of 30/30, 30/34, 30/38, 30/42, 34/34, 38/38 and 42/42. The 38 C root-zone temperature treatment was the upper threshold for a number of growth and physiological parameters. A portion of the root system grown at near optimum temperatures could compensate in terms of shoot growth for part of the root system exposed to supraoptimal root-zone temperatures up to the 38 C critical threshold. Higher root-zone temperatures did not affect photosynthetic rates or root:shoot ratios, but altered photosynthate partitioning to different stem and root sinks. Although no differences were found for total 14C partitioned to the roots, partitioning of the 14C into soluble and insoluble fractions and the magnitude of root respiration and exudation were influenced by treatment. Heating half of a root system at 38 C increased the amount of 14C respired from the heated side and increased the total CO2 respired from the non-heated (30 C) half. Exposure of both root halves to 42 C resulted in membrane damage which increased the leakage of 14C photosynthates into the medium.

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Susan M. Hawkins, John M. Ruter, and Carol D. Robacker

Dissotis rotundifolia (Sm.) Triana and Tibouchina fothergillae ×pilosa are members of the Melastomataceae family with high ornamental potential. The growth habits of these species are not ideal for nursery production or shipping. D. rotundifolia grows rapidly and needs frequent pruning. T. fothergillae ×pilosa has an open growth habit and could benefit from a more compact form. The effect of the plant growth regulator (PGR) paclobutrazol on D. rotundifolia and T. fothergillae ×pilosa was assessed to determine whether it could produce plants with a more compact growth habit. Paclobutrazol was applied as a drench and a spray. Drench application was more effective in reducing the growth of both species. Spray application was effective in reducing the growth of D. rotundifolia but was not effective on T. fothergillae ×pilosa. Neither drench nor spray application delayed or reduced flowering in D. rotundifolia. T. fothergillae ×pilosa did not flower during the study. For both D. rotundifolia and T. fothergillae ×pilosa, neither drench nor spray application had an effect on root dry weight. Low-to-medium dosages were effective at controlling plant growth in D. rotundifolia and T. fothergillae ×pilosa without adverse effects on plants. Drench treatments have more persistent effects on plant growth than spray treatments.

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Susan M. Hawkins, John M. Ruter, and Carol D. Robacker

Four species of Dissotis and three species of Tibouchina, two genera of the Melastomataceae family, were crossed in an attempt to create interspecific and intergeneric hybrids. Intergeneric crosses set seed at a rate of 18.1% and interspecific crosses had a 32.3% rate of seed set. Germination was extremely poor, with only four crosses having germinated seed. Crosses produced 31 seedlings. Three of the seedlings were from intergeneric crosses between Dissotis canescens and Tibouchina lepidota. Interspecific crosses produced 25 seedlings from crosses between Dissotis princeps and Dissotis rotundifolia and three seedlings from crosses between D. canescens and D. princeps. The prognosis for conventional breeding for species in Dissotis and Tibouchina is poor due to low seed set, poor germination, and slow growth of progeny.