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  • Author or Editor: Beiquan Mou x
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Salinity and nutrient-depleted soil are major constraints to crop production, especially for vegetable crops. The effects of salinity and nutrient deficiency on spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) were evaluated in sand cultures under greenhouse conditions. Plants were watered every day with Hoagland nutrition solution, deprived of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), or potassium (K) for nutrient deficiency, either with or without 20/10 mm sodium chloride (NaCl)/calcium chloride (CaCl2) for salinity treatment. Salinity significantly decreased shoot fresh weight (FW) and dry weight (DW), leaf relative water content (RWC), and specific leaf area (SLA) relative to controls after 4 weeks of treatment and increased chlorophyll content, maximum photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm), and photochemical yield [Y(II)]. Nitrogen deficiency greatly reduced shoot FW and DW, SLA, and chlorophyll content, regardless of salt treatment. Y(II) and Fv/Fm were reduced by N deficiency and salinity treatment. Phosphorous and K deficiencies, similarly, decreased shoot FW and DW irrespective of salinity treatment and increased chlorophyll content without salt stress. Phosphorous deficiency increased Y(II) under control and Fv/Fm under both control and salt treatment. Salinity and nutrient deficiency also affected the nutritional value of spinach. Salt stress increased carotenoid and flavonoid contents, and reducing power in full-strength Hoagland solution, and decreased leaf ferrous ion chelating ability (FICA). Nutrient deficiency increased reducing power regardless of salinity treatment. Nitrogen deficiency increased anthocyanin and total phenolic contents, decreased carotenoids and flavonoids regardless of salinity treatment, and increased antioxidant capacity under no-salt conditions. Phosphorous deficiency increased carotenoid and flavonoid contents under no-salt condition and enhanced total phenolic content and reduced FICA and amino acid content under salt stress. Potassium deficiency increased total phenolic, carotenoid, and flavonoid contents and antioxidant capacity under non-salt condition, but decreased FICA regardless of salinity treatment. These results suggest that spinach nutritional value could be improved with only moderately or slightly reduced yield through cultural practices that impose either low fertilizer levels or slight salt stress.

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Chitosan has become of interest as a crop biostimulant suitable for use in sustainable agriculture since it is biocompatible, biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and readily available in large quantity. Short-term (35 d after transplanting) effects of chitosan, applied as a soil amendment at 0%, 0.05%, 0.10%, 0.15%, 0.20%, or 0.30% (w/w), on lettuce (Lactuca sativa) growth, chlorophyll fluorescence, and gas exchange were evaluated in a growth chamber study. Chitosan at 0.05%, 0.10%, and 0.15% increased leaf area from 674 to 856, 847, and 856 cm2, and leaf fresh weight from 28.6 to 39.4, 39.1, and 39.8 g, respectively. Only chitosan at 0.05% and 0.10% increased leaf dry weight from 3.42 to 4.37 and 4.35 g, respectively, while chitosan at 0.30% decreased leaf number, area, fresh and dry weight. Chitosan at 0.10%, 0.15%, 0.20%, and 0.30% increased leaf chlorophyll index from 29.8 to 34.4, 35.4, 37.5, and 41.4, respectively. Chitosan at 0.20% and 0.30% increased leaf maximum photochemical efficiency and photochemical yield, and chitosan at 0.10%, 0.15% 0.20%, and 0.30% increased leaf electron transport rate. Leaf photosynthesis rate and stomatal conductance (g S) increased from 9.3 to 12.7, 14.0, and 16.6 μmol·m−2·s−1 carbon dioxide, and from 0.134 to 0.183, 0.196, and 0.231 mol·m−2·s−1, under chitosan at 0.15%, 0.20%, and 0.30%, respectively. The results indicated that chitosan, at appropriate application rates, enhanced lettuce growth, and might have potential to be used for sustainable production of lettuce.

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Corky root is a major disease of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) observed in many production areas of the world. The pathogen Sphingomonas suberifaciens (van Bruggen et al.) Yabuuchi et al. varies with regard to virulence, and several strains have been isolated that can cause disease symptoms even on cultivars that have the only known resistance gene, cor. It is desirable to find new sources of resistance to diversify the genetic basis of the resistance and to confer resistance against isolates that are not adequately controlled by cor. More than 1000 plant introduction lines and cultivars were screened in assays conducted in the greenhouse, growth chamber, and field. Three L. serriola L. lines (PI 491239, PI 491096, and PI 491110) and a L. virosa L. line (PI 273597c) were highly resistant to corky root in all tests. Disease severity ratings in the field were correlated with the ratings in the greenhouse (r = 0.722) and in the growth chamber (r = 0.650). Significant genotype × environment interactions were observed for corky root severity. None of the four resistant lines had the two molecular markers closely linked to the cor allele. The information on disease resistance for these genotypes will be useful in future breeding work.

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Thermoinhibition of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seed germination is a common problem associated with lettuce production. Depending on lettuce cultivars, seed germination may be inhibited when temperatures exceed 28 °C. The delay or inhibition of seed germination at high temperatures may reduce seedling emergence and stand establishment of lettuce in the field, leading to a reduction in economic yield. To identify heat-tolerant lettuce genotypes, lettuce varieties and germplasm accessions were screened for the ability to germinate under high-temperature stress. Twenty-four to 26 genotypes were selected from each lettuce types (crisphead, romaine, butterhead, loose leaf, and wild species) and their seeds were placed in petri dishes to test their ability to germinate at high temperatures (29 and 34 °C) as compared with controls at 24 °C. Some lettuce genotypes showed thermotolerance to 34 °C (less than 20% reduction in germination) such as Elizabeth, PI 342533, PI 358025, Florida Buttercrisp, Kordaat, Corsair, FL 50105, PRO 425, PI 278070, Noemie, Picarde, Gaillarde, L. serriola (PI 491112, UC96US23, PI 491147), L. virosa (PI 274378 D), L. saligna (PI 491159), and primitive (PI 187238 A, PI 289063 C). The germination rates were consistent with the germination percentage at the high temperatures. Seed germination in the field was very low and positively correlated with seed germination at 29 and 34 °C. The highest field germination percentages (greater than 40%) were observed in Belluro, Mantilia, Mid Queen, Headmaster, PRO 874, PRO 425, FL 50105, Corsair, Romaine SSC 1148, Romaine Romea, Green Forest, Grenadier, FL 43007, Squadron, Xena, Noemie, Green Wave, Picarde, and Red Giant. The results of this study indicated that lettuce genotypes differ greatly in their ability to germinate at high temperatures as determined by the percentages and the rates of germination. Our research indicates that thermoinsensitive varieties could be used to expand lettuce production seasons in warm and low land cost areas and reduce the need for seed priming, lowering the production costs. The information may also be useful for growers to better choose cultivars for warm environments and for lettuce breeders to improve the crop for adaptation to global warming and climate change.

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Lettuce is one of the most commonly used salad vegetables and considered to be a relatively salt-sensitive crop. Salinity is a major constraint to crop production in all important lettuce growing regions of the United States, and the water quality problem is exacerbated by climate change. To identify salt-tolerant lettuce genotypes, 178 cultivars and germplasm accessions (56 butterhead, 39 crisphead, 35 romaine, 33 leaf, and 15 wild types) were selected from a preliminary screening of more than 3800 genotypes, and tested for salinity tolerance in sand cultures under greenhouse conditions. Plants were grown in Hoagland nutrient solution, either with or without 30/15 mm NaCl/CaCl2, and leaf fresh and dry mass (FM and DM), chlorophyll index, and maximal photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) were measured 4 weeks after plants were transplanted. Generally, salinity decreased lettuce shoot FM and DM, increased DM/FM ratio and chlorophyll index, and had no effect on Fv/Fm. Some lettuce varieties showed salt tolerance (less than 15% reduction in FM), such as PI 342515, PI 358020c, ‘Morgana’, ‘Amerika’ (butterhead), ‘Laura’ (crisphead), PI 289023, PI 273577, PI 278066, PI 177425 (romaine), PI 171676a, PI 177423, PI 342477, and PI 358018b (leaf). The results indicate that lettuce genotypes differ greatly in their salt sensitivity, which could be useful for growers to choose cultivars and for breeders to improve lettuce adaptation to salinity stress.

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Compost is increasingly used in horticultural crop production as soil conditioner and fertilizer because of its contribution to agriculture sustainability. The short-term (35 days after transplanting) effects of composted cattle manure or cotton burr on growth, physiology, and phytochemical of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) were evaluated in a greenhouse. Composted cattle manure at 5% or 10% mix rate (5Ca or 10Ca) greatly enhanced spinach growth as indicated by increased leaf number, area, fresh and dry weights (FW and DW), shoot FW and DW, and root DW. They also increased water use efficiency (WUE) and shoot:root ratio, and improved the photochemistry of mature leaves. Chlorophyll content also increased under 10Ca treatment. Composted cotton burr also improved spinach growth but only at 10% amendments (10Co), and was less efficient than composted cattle manure. Specific leaf area (SLA) decreased and succulence increased under all compost amendment indicating that compost could improve spinach quality. All soil amendments reduced the content of total phenolic and anthocyanin, while only 10Co and 5Ca treatments decreased flavonoid content and total antioxidant capacity. The content of carotenoid and protein increased in 10Ca treatment and amino acid content increased under both 5Ca and 10Ca treatments. The results indicated that compost, especially composted cattle manure mixed at 10%, improved spinach production and quality, and with proper application rate enhanced nutritional value by increasing carotenoid, protein, and amino acid contents while having little effect on total antioxidant capacity.

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The use of vermicompost to improve soil fertility and enhance crop yield has gained considerable momentum due to its contribution to agroecological sustainability. Short-term (35 days after transplanting) effects of vermicompost, applied either as a soil amendment (5% and 10%, v/v) or a drench (40 mL of vermicompost extract at 0, 14, 21, and 28 days after transplanting), on soil properties and spinach plants (Spinacia oleracea L.) were evaluated in a greenhouse. After harvesting, the amendments left high residual levels of nutrients, organic matter and carbon, and increased soil cation exchange capacity (CEC) and water-holding capacity (WHC). Drench treatment of unamended soil increased soil nutrients, CEC, and WHC. All vermicompost treatments, especially amendment at 10% rate, increased leaf number, area, fresh and dry weight (FW and DW), shoot FW and DW, root DW, and water use efficiency (WUE). Vermicompost increased leaf chlorophyll content, and photochemical efficiency, yield, and electron transport rate (ETR) of mature leaves, as well as increased leaf succulence, and carotenoid, protein, and amino acid content. Vermicompost soil amendment reduced phenolics and flavonoids, leading to lower antioxidant capacity, whereas drench treatment only decreased betacyanin content. Vermicompost improved soil fertility, prompted leaf production, delayed leaf senescence, and enhanced growth of spinach. It also favorably influenced spinach quality by increasing leaf succulence and carotenoid, protein, and amino acids content, although it, as soil amendment, reduced flavonoid content leading to low antioxidant capacity.

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