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  • Author or Editor: Gale H. McGranahan x
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Insecticidal crystal protein fragments (ICPFs) of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) encoded by cryIA(c) gene were shown in diet incorporation studies to be lethal to codling moth (CM; Cydia pomonella) the key insect pest for walnut. However transformed walnut tissues expressing cryIA(c) with Bt codon usage patterns and native DNA sequence revealed very low levels of expression in planta. To correct this problem synthetic versions of one of these genes, cryIA(c) was used to transform walnut tissue. A total of 61 individual transgenic embryo lines were obtained. 34% of these lines (21/61) were high expressors (“class A”) demonstrating 80 to 100% mortality of first in star CM larvae and displaying no further larval development. Twelve clones (20%) were designated “class B” and these showed a marked retardation of larval development and a mortality between 40 to 79%. Embryos from the remaining 28 lines designated “class C” (46%). although transformed, were indistinguishable from the control (untransformed embryos) and showed a mortality of 0 to 39%.

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Walnuts (Juglans spp.) are difficult-to-root woody plants. The rolABC genes (rolA + rolB + rolC), derived from the bacteria Agrobacterium rhizogenes, have been shown to increase the rooting potential of other difficult-to-root woody plants. We inserted the rolABC genes into somatic embryos of a `Paradox' hybrid (J. hindsii × J. regia) clone PX1 using the A. tumefaciens gene transfer system. A transgenic sub-clone, designated PX1 rolABC 2-2 was selected and compared to the untransformed clone for a variety of phenotypic characteristics, including rooting potential. Transformed and untransformed shoots were budded onto seedling J. regia rootstock in the greenhouse and established in the field. Transformed trees displayed reduced internode length, an increase in lateral branching, and wrinkled leaves. In another test, a commercial persian walnut cultivar J. regia `Chandler' was grafted onto rooted cuttings of both the untransformed and transformed plants. The presence of the rolABC genes in the rootstock had no visible effects on the grafted scion. Several of these trees were excavated from the field and the root systems of each genotype were examined for root number, diameter, and biomass. Trees with the rolABC rootstock had significantly more small diameter roots compared to the controls and less recovered biomass. Tests of the rooting potential of leafy semi-hardwood cuttings for two years resulted in 14% to 59% rooting of the transformed cuttings compared to 51% to 81% rooting of the control. Both transformed hardwood cuttings and microshoots in tissue culture also rooted significantly less (52% and 29% respectively) than untransformed hardwood cuttings and tissue cultured shoots (82% and 54% respectively). Thus, although the rolABC genes induced a shorter internode length and a more fibrous root system (typical of rol-tranformed plants), they were not useful for increasing the rooting potential, and as rootstock they did not affect the phenotype of the scion.

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Species of Phytophthora are serious soilborne pathogens of persian (english) walnut, causing crown and root rot and associated production losses worldwide. To facilitate the development of improved walnut rootstocks, we examined resistance of 48 diverse clones and seedlings of Juglans species to P. cinnamomi and P. citricola. Plants were micropropagated, acclimatized to a greenhouse environment, and then exposed to the pathogens in artificially infested potting soil mix. Inoculated plants, as well as noninoculated controls, were subjected to soil flooding for 48 hours every 2 weeks to facilitate infection by the pathogens. Two to 3 months after inoculation, resistance to the pathogens was assessed according to the severity of crown and root rot. Clonal hybrids of J. californica × J. regia were highly susceptible to the pathogens (means 52% to 76% root crown length rotted), while several clones of J. microcarpa × J. regia were significantly less susceptible (means 8% to 79% crown length rotted). Among clones of other parentages tested, including: J. microcarpa, (J. californica × J. nigra) × J. regia, J. hindsii × J. regia, (J. hindsii × J. regia) × J. regia, [(J. major × J. hindsii) × J. nigra] × J. regia, and J. nigra × J. regia, responses varied, but tended to be intermediate. When ‘Serr’ scions were budded or grafted on J. microcarpa × J. regia clone ‘RX1’ or Paradox (J. hindsii × J. regia) seedling rootstocks in a commercial orchard infested with P. cinnamomi, all trees on ‘RX1’ remained healthy, whereas only 49% of those on Paradox survived. Thus, useful resistance to Phytophthora is available among J. microcarpa × J. regia hybrids and is evident in ‘RX1’ rootstock.

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