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Carl D. Schlagnhaufer, Richard N. Arteca, and Eva J. Pell

Ethylene production is involved in many plant physiological processes including stress responses and is frequently associated with foliar senescence. Ethylene emission is a common plant response to many biotic and abiotic stresses. We have cloned two ACC synthase cDNAs (OIP-1, PAC-1) from the leaves of ozone treated Solanum tuberosum L. plants. Plants treated with ozone produced ethylene within 1 hour following treatment initiation. Levels continued to increase reaching a peak after 2 h. PAC-1 was expressed after 1 hour reaching a maximum by 2 hours and showed a marked decline after 4 h. OIP-1 was first expressed after 2 hours and high levels of expression continued up to 4 hours following treatment initiation. Leaves treated with CuCl2 produced high levels of ethylene within 0.5 hour after treatment initiation. Ethylene levels continued to increase reaching a peak after 2 hours with no change after 4 h. PAC-1 was expressed after 0.5 hour reaching a peak at 1 hour and showed a progressive decline from 2 to 4 h. However, OIP-1 expression was first detected 2 hours following treatment initiation and high levels of expression continued up 4 h. Leaves exposed to Alternaria solani produced increased levels of ethylene 1 day following inoculation reaching a peak after 3 days. PAC-1 was expressed at a low level 1 day after inoculation and expression remained constant for the duration of the experiment, whereas, OIP-1 was not expressed until day 4.

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Amnon Levi, John Coffey, Laura Massey, Nihat Guner, Elad Oren, Yaakov Tadmor, and Kai-shu Ling

The bitter desert watermelon, Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad is a wild species valuable for biotic and abiotic stress resistance that could be exploited for improving watermelon cultivars [Citrullus lanatus (Thunberg) Matsum & Nakai var. lanatus]. The objective of this study was to survey and identify C. colocynthis accessions displaying resistance to the Papaya ringspot virus-watermelon strain (PRSV-W). Thirty-one accessions of C. colocynthis, collected in Africa, the Middle East, southwest Asia, and India were evaluated for PRSV-W resistance. Of these 31 accessions, 4 U.S. Plant Introduction (PI) accessions, including 525080 (collected in Qena, Egypt) and PI 537277, PI 652554, and Griffin 14201 (collected at the northern Indian desert of Rajasthan and the neighboring region of Punjab, Pakistan) showed high resistance to PRSV-W. Plants of these four resistant PIs were self-pollinated to produce S1 and S2 seeds that continued to maintain the high levels of PRSV resistance. Since there is a wide genetic distance between watermelon cultivars and C. colocynthis, we performed crosses and backcrosses with watermelon cultivars, including ‘Charleston Gray’ and ‘Sugar Baby’ to produce viable seed that would be useful in the development of genetic populations and in introducing the resistance into watermelon cultivars.

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Samir Droby, Ron Porat, Lea Cohen, Batia Weiss, Boris Shapiro, Sonia Philosoph-Hadas, and Shimon Meir

Jasmonic acid (JA) and methyl jasmonate (MJ), collectively referred to as jasmonates, are naturally occurring plant growth regulators involved in various aspects of plant development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, we found that postharvest application of jasmonates reduced decay caused by the green mold Penicillium digitatum (Pers.: Fr.) Sacc. after either natural or artificial inoculation of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi `Marsh Seedless'). These treatments also effectively reduced chilling injury incidence after cold storage. The most effective concentration of jasmonates for reducing decay in cold-stored fruit or after artificial inoculation of wounded fruit at 24 °C was 10 μmol·L-1. Higher and lower jasmonate concentrations were less effective at both temperatures. MJ at 10 μmol·L-1 also most effectively reduced the percentage of fruit displaying chilling injury symptoms after 6 weeks of storage at 2 °C and 4 additional d at 20 °C. When tested in vitro, neither JA nor MJ had any direct antifungal effect on P. digitatum spore germination or germ tube elongation. Therefore, it is suggested that jasmonates probably reduced green mold decay in grapefruit indirectly by enhancing the natural resistance of the fruit to P. digitatum at high and low temperatures.

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Zhiyong Wang, Paul Raymer, and Zhenbang Chen

St. augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum sp.) is a warm-season perennial turfgrass that grows widely in tropical regions around the world. St. augustinegrass is valued for both its turf performance and high levels of resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The current study was aimed at developing nuclear microsatellite markers for st. augustinegrass. Pyrosequencing of an enriched microsatellite library on the Roche FLX platform using a 454 Titanium kit produced 57,306 sequence reads; 2614 of which contained short tandem repeats. One hundred primer pairs were tested with 18 accessions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Plant Germplasm System st. augustinegrass collection grown in Griffin, GA. This collection contains both Stenotaphrum dimidiatum and Stenotaphrum secundatum accessions. Among revealed 100 primer pairs, 33 were polymorphic. A total of 175 alleles were amplified. The number of observed alleles per primer pair ranged from two to 10, with an average of 5.3. Shannon’s information index and Nei’s genetic diversity values were 0.4403 and 0.2873, respectively. This set of microsatellite markers is useful for assessment of genetic diversity and construction of molecular genetic linkage maps in st. augustinegrass.

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Hrvoje Rukavina, Harrison Hughes, and Yaling Qian

Freezing is the major abiotic stress that limits geographical distribution of warm-season turfgrasses. Prior studies have indicated variation in freezing tolerance in saltgrass clones. Therefore, this 2-year study examined the freezing tolerance of 27 saltgrass clones as related to collection sites in three zones of cold hardiness. Furthermore, these clones were evaluated for time of leaf browning in the fall with the intent to determine if there was a correlation between this trait and freezing tolerance. Rhizomes were sampled during 2004 and 2005 midwinters from clones established in Fort Collins, Colo., and then subjected to a freezing test. Saltgrass freezing tolerance was highly influenced by the climatic zone of clone origin in both years of the experiment. Clones with greater freezing tolerance turned brown earlier in fall in both seasons. Ranking of zones for the average LT50 was: zone 4 (–17.2 °C) < zone 5 (–14.4 °C) < zone 6 (–11.1 °C) in 2004 and zone 4 (–18.3 °C) < zone 5 (–15.7 °C) < zone 6 (–13.1 °C) in 2005. Clones from northern areas tolerated lower freezing temperatures better overall. This confirmed that freezing tolerance is inherited. Large intraspecific variation in freezing tolerance may be effectively used in developing cold-hardy cultivars.

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Xin Zhao, C.B. Rajashekar, Edward E. Carey, and Weiqun Wang

Demand for organically grown produce is increasing, largely due to concerns of consumers about health and nutrition. Previous studies have not shown a consistent difference of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, between organic food crops and the conventional counterparts. However, to date, little consideration has been given to phytochemicals, secondary plant metabolites with potential health-promoting properties. We first discuss factors that can infl uence the levels of phytochemicals in crops, and then we critically review the results of published studies that have compared the effects of organic and conventional production systems on phytochemical contents of fruit and vegetables. The evidence overall seems in favor of enhancement of phytochemical content in organically grown produce, but there has been little systematic study of the factors that may contribute to increased phytochemical content in organic crops. It remains to be seen whether consistent differences will be found, and the extent to which biotic and abiotic stresses, and other factors such as soil biology, contribute to those differences. Problems associated with most studies tend to weaken the validity of comparisons. Given the limitations of most published studies, needs for future research are discussed.

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Qi Zhang, Liqi Yang, and Kevin Rue

Drought is the most important abiotic stress in crop production including turfgrass management. Using drought tolerant plants can help minimize stress damage. In this study, 23 commercially available cultivars of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) were evaluated for their responses to drought stress that was induced by polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000 in a hydroponic system during the seed germination and seedling growth stage. In such a system, water potential was adjusted to 0.0 (the control), −0.3, and −0.6 MPa to mimic the drought condition. The absolute water content (AWC), shoot dry weight (SDW), root dry weight (RDW), longest root length (LRL), specific root length (SRL), and root-to-shoot dry weight ratio (RSR) in the plants grown for 4 weeks in the treatment were determined. Results showed that SDW and LRL were unaffected by drought; however, RDW and RSR increased, whereas SRL and AWC were reduced under drought. Among the 23 creeping bentgrass cultivars evaluated, Independence and Crystal Bluelinks had a higher turfgrass performance index (TPI), which represented the number of times a cultivar ranked in the top statistical group across all parameters. The results suggest that ‘Independence’ and ‘Crystal Bluelinks’ may be more adapted to drought than the other cultivars at the seedling stage.

Open access

Ariel Singerman, Stephen H. Futch, and Brandon Page

Citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) has caused sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) yield in Florida to decrease by 55% since the disease was first discovered in 2005. As a consequence, the profitability and sustainability of citrus (Citrus sp.) production in Florida have been jeopardized, as evidenced by the 62% reduction in the number of citrus growers statewide. Because there is still no effective treatment or management strategy to cure the disease, it is crucial to optimize grove practices and management. The use of improved rootstocks could increase the tolerance of citrus scions to biotic and abiotic stresses, thereby allowing growers to cope better with the impact of HLB in the field. We used yield data collected from commercial trials over the course of multiple seasons to assess the side-by-side performance of various commercially available rootstocks developed by the two major breeding programs in Florida in HLB-endemic field conditions. We found that some of the rootstocks attained not only statistically significant differences in yield relative to the control but also meaningful differences in revenue. Those estimates provide evidence regarding the effect of rootstock during the first few seasons after planting. Our findings are useful to improve growers’ decision-making processes regarding rootstock selection for new groves.

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Yiming Liu, Hongmei Du, Kai Wang, Bingru Huang, and Zhaolong Wang

Salinity is a detrimental abiotic stress for plant growth in salt-affected soils. The objective of this study was to examine photosynthetic responses to salinity stress in two warm-season turfgrasses differing in salinity tolerance. Salt-tolerant species seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) and salt-sensitive species centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) were exposed to salinity at three NaCl concentrations (0, 300, and 500 mm) in a growth chamber. Turf quality, relative water content (RWC), and leaf photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined, whereas electrolyte leakage (EL) increased under the two NaCl regimes for both grass species, and the changes were more dramatic in centipedegrass than that in seashore paspalum as well as in the higher salinity concentration. Two grass species showed different phytosynthetic responses to salinity stress. The earlier inhibition of photosynthesis in seashore paspalum was mainly associated with stomatal closure. As salinity increased and salinity stress prolonged, the inhibition of photosynthesis in seashore paspalum was mainly associated with non-stomatal factors. The inhibition of photosynthesis in centipedegrass was associated with both stomatal closure and non-stomatal factors at both salinity levels. The sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis demonstrated the Rubisco large subunit had no obvious decrease during the whole stress period under the 300-mm and 500-mm treatments in seashore paspalum, whereas it significantly decreased in centipedegrass under both the 300-mm and 500-mm treatments. The results indicated that the superior salinity tolerance in seashore paspalum, compared with centipedegrass, could be attributed to its maintenance of Rubisco stability, chlorophyll content, photochemical efficiency as well as photosynthetic rate (Pn) capacity under salinity stress.

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Xunzhong Zhang, R.E. Schmidt, E.H. Ervin, and S. Doak

Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris Huds.) is an extensively used cool-season grass for fine turf areas such as golf course putting greens, but suffers from poor summer stress tolerance. These studies were conducted to investigate the influences of natural plant growth regulators (NPGR) and Fe on creeping bentgrass photochemical activity (PA), antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, root growth and leaf color under two fertilization regimes. The bentgrass was maintained in well-watered field conditions or water-stressed glasshouse conditions. A mature bentgrass was treated monthly during the field season with seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum Jol.) extract (SWE) at 50 mg·m-2 or humic acid (HA) at 150 mg·m-2 or in combination with or without FeSO4 at 520 mg·m-2 and grown under a low or a high fertilization regime. Foliar application of SWE + Fe increased PA (14% to 15%), while applications of SWE + HA or SWE + HA + Fe increased SOD activity (49% to 114%) of creeping bentgrass in Summer 1997 and Summer 1998. There was no significant fertilization × NPGR interaction for PA and SOD activity. Bentgrass PA was increased by 13% to 46% when treated with NPGR with or without Fe compared to the control measured in May. The addition of Fe with each NPGR application improved fall and winter leaf color. All NPGR and Fe treatments increased root mass (17% to 29%) in Aug. 1997 and 1998, except HA alone in 1998. Under sustained low soil moisture (-0.5 MPa) conditions, application of NPGR with or without Fe increased PA and SOD activity. The data indicate that SWE and HA enhance the physiological function of `Southshore' creeping bentgrass, resulting in improved root growth regardless of low or high fertilization regime. However, addition of Fe to these NPGR served primarily to improve late season leaf color. The results suggest that, in addition to maintaining adequate plant-available nutrients, applications of natural PGRs, such as SWE and HA, prior to and during summer abiotic stresses would be beneficial.