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  • Author or Editor: James Luby x
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The hardy Actinidia species represent a source of genetic diversity for improving A. deliciosa (kiwifruit) as well as for creating new economically important cultivars through intra- and interspecific crosses. Attempts at breeding in Actinidia have been complicated by the existence of intraspecific as well as interspecific variation in ploidy. The haploid chromosome number in Actinidia is 29 and diploid (2n=2x=58), tetraploid (2n=4x=116), and hexaploid (2n=6x=174) levels have been identified. Because of the problems encountered when crossing parents differing in ploidy level, it is desirable to know the ploidy levels of plants to be used in breeding. We determined the ploidy levels of 61 Actinidia accessions currently available in the U.S., including primarily accessions of relatively winter-hardy species. The 61 accessions, representing eight species and three interspecific hybrids, were screened for ploidy using flow cytometry. Mitotic root tip cells from one plant from each putative ploidy level were examined microscopically to confirm the ploidy level derived from flow cytometry. There were 17 diploids, 40 tetraploids, and 4 hexaploids. Intraspecific variation was not found among accessions of the species arguta, callosa, deliciosa, kolomikta, melanandra, polygama, or purpurea. All kolomikta and polygama accessions were diploid. All arguta, callosa, melanandra, and purpurea accessions were tetraploid. Actinidia deliciosa was hexaploid. One chinensis accession was tetraploid. Two accessions (NGPR 0021.14 and 0021.3), acquired as chinensis, were hexaploid and may, in fact, be A. deliciosa based on their morphology. `Issai' (arguta × polygama) was hexaploid and `Ken's Red' and `Red Princess' (both melanandra × arguta) were tetraploid.

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During storage, many apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) genotypes lose their desirable textural qualities, but some like `Honeycrisp', maintain their sensory Crispness and Firmness. To understand this differential response of genotypes to postharvest changes in texture, reliable and quantifiable methods of texture measurement are needed. This study integrated data from a snapping test, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), and sensory panels to study postharvest textural changes and to predict sensory textural attributes of Firmness, Crispness, Mealiness, and Juiciness. Three separate analyses on fresh, stored, and combined fresh and stored fruit data yielded different predictors for the same sensory attributes. Change in Crispness during storage was successfully predicted by change in Work during storage. Cell number and size were related to fresh fruit texture and its maintenance during storage. Unique textural properties of `Honeycrisp' were found to be inherited by its progeny.

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The change from asexual to sexual propagation for annual and perennial bedding plants has been successfully accomplished for floral crops, e.g., Pelargonium. Seed-propagated cultivars do not necessarily possess the clonal uniformity of vegetatively propagated cultivars. In the development of F1 hybrid garden chrysanthemums, this lack of uniformity was assessed with the use of consumer sensory evaluations. Seedlings (n = 10–20 plants/cross) were transplanted for field trials in St. Paul and five Minnesota branch stations each year during 1988–94 to test for G × E. Early flowering F1 hybrids, developed from inbred parents with general combining ability, were evaluated for flowering earliness, plant uniformity, and a general rating. Consumer rankings of top performers were not significantly different (5% level) from mum breeders. The top performers for all three ratings were selected each year for repeat evaluation the next year. The two highest performing F1 hybrids were submitted for All American Selection Trials in 1995.

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We evaluated the extent to which `Swenson Red' seeded grape (Vitis × spp.) responded to single and repeated GA3 applications to induce seedless fruit development. Field studies were conducted to test the time of pre-anthesis GA3 application (18, or 24 May or 3 June), the usefulness of postanthesis application, the optimum GA3 concentration (0, 0.075, 0.15, or 0.3 mm), and the method of application. The treatment dates that gave a high percentage of seedless berries with an acceptable berry count per cluster were 24 May with postanthesis application and 3 June pre-anthesis only. The optimum GA3 concentration was 0.15 mm applied both before and after anthesis. The most seedless berries developed when pre- and postanthesis applications were used, indicating many seedless fruit developed from flowers that would have abscised. There was no difference in percent heedlessness, number of berries per cluster, or number of seeds per berry between clusters dipped or sprayed with 0.3 mm GA3. Chemical uame used: gibberellic acid (GA3).

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Three classes of crosses using four genotypes of V. riparia (wild Riverbank grape) as maternal parents were evaluated for evidence of reproductive expression of genetic incongruity. The classes were: I V. riparia x V. vinifera cultivars (European domesticated grape); II V. riparia x French Hybrids (complex interspecific hybrids); III V. riparia x V. riparia. Percent fruit set and seeds per berry were recorded for two years. If incongruity is a factor in interspecific grape crosses, then the values for these traits would be expected to be lower in classes I and II than in class III. Analysis of variance indicated significant differences for some half-sib families. Fruit and seed set were lower in classes I and II than in class III, suggesting that incongruity is operative in wide grape crosses. In the process of creating French hybrids, genomes of several species came together over generations of hybridization. In concert with selection for fertility, repeated interspecific genomic exposure would be expected to have ameliorated the effects of initial incongruity between American species and V. vinifera, increasing their value as genetic bridges in breeding programs.

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Research at botanic gardens, from medieval times to the present day, has evolved to encompass a wide range of topics. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, part of the University of Minnesota, is an example of a diverse, successful research program within a public university garden setting. Collaboration, mission, organization, and publications are keys to a successful research program. Future research for public gardens, including putting collections to work for conservation, understanding global change, ecological genomics, restoration ecology, seed banking, and citizen science are collaborative ideas for all botanic gardens to consider. Research can strengthen the botanic garden's role by providing public value while improving ties to the university.

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As part of our hardy strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) breeding program, winter hardiness of 15 strawberry cultivars was evaluated in the field after Winter 2005–2006 and a test Winter 2006–2007 with no snow cover at Grand Rapids, MN. After the snow-covered Winter 2005–2006, plant stand (percent leaf coverage for the designated area for each plot) increased for all cultivars in the mulched treatment and some cultivars in the unmulched treatment with slight decreases only for several cultivars in the unmulched treatment. However, after Winter 2006–2007, the plant stands of all cultivars drastically decreased in both mulched and unmulched treatments. ‘Clancy’, ‘Evangeline’, and ‘L'Amour’ were the three most sensitive cultivars among the 15 cultivars tested. ‘Kent’, ‘Mesabi™’, ‘Cavendish’, and ‘Brunswick’ were the highest yielding cultivars for both 2006 and 2007 in the mulched treatment. In the unmulched treatment, ‘Brunswick’, ‘Mesabi™ ’, ‘Cavendish’, ‘Sable’, and ‘Kent’ were the top yielding cultivars after Winter 2006–2007. During Winter 2005–2006, with 20 to 30 cm snow cover throughout the season, the 5- and 10-cm soil temperatures remained constant at ≈30 to 31.5 °F in both mulched and unmulched treatments. In contrast, during Winter 2006–2007, there were 16 and 24 days (consecutive) in February below 18 °F at 5-cm soil depths for mulched and unmulched treatments, respectively, which probably led to the severe winter damage. Although straw mulch afforded the plants some protection, snow cover is critical to the survival of strawberries in northern Minnesota and other areas with similar weather conditions.

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