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  • Author or Editor: Beiquan Mou x
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Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is a cool season crop that is vulnerable to high temperature stress, which promotes bolting and decreases yield and quality. It is anticipated that climate change may lead to higher temperatures in current lettuce growing areas in the United States, thereby negatively affecting lettuce production and possibly resulting in adverse impacts on global food production. Therefore, it is important to identify lettuce germplasm with tolerance to temperatures higher than those that have occurred over the past century. We evaluated 25 crisphead lettuce cultivars for tolerance to high temperature stress in the San Joaquin, Imperial, and Salinas Valleys, CA. Genetic variation was identified for yield and horticultural traits, such as core length, head diameter, tipburn, bolting, and market maturity, of crisphead lettuce grown in warmer conditions. Significant genotype × environment interaction did not account for most of the variation; the main differences were found for environments and only a small proportion of the variation was due to genotypes. Cultivar Primetime is a good source of heat tolerance for crisphead lettuce, as it presented the best yield and exhibited other desirable characteristics across warmer conditions. These results provide insight into the cultivars that respond well to hot environments. Moreover, the data can be used by breeders to develop new heat-tolerant lettuce cultivars.

Open Access

Warmer temperatures during crop production are not desirable for a cool-season crop such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Lettuce is among the top 10 most consumed vegetables in the United States. Production of this vegetable is concentrated mostly in temperate areas of California, and during the wintertime in Arizona and Florida as a result of their mild climatic conditions. Heat-tolerant cultivars are needed for the leafy vegetable industry to continue thriving. However, there is very little information on heat-tolerant germplasms of lettuce that can be used as a source to improve heat tolerance in lettuce. This is particularly important in romaine and butterhead lettuce, which are two morphological types with increasing demand in the market. Therefore, research was conducted to identify germplasm that performs acceptably in warmer regions in the western United States. This investigation also aimed to understand the reaction of varieties to different environments, which could help plant breeders select and evaluate lettuce plants during the breeding process. Twenty-three and 25 accessions of romaine and butterhead lettuce, respectively, were planted in five trials near Holtville, CA, USA: Five Points, CA, USA, under warmer temperatures and Salinas, CA, USA, under cooler temperatures. Romaine genotypes Bambi, Blonde Lente a Monter, Medallion MT, and Red Eye Cos; and butterhead genotypes Butter King and Margarita had no bolting, an acceptable head weight, short cores, and acceptable head height. Head weight and related traits (including core length, height, width, etc.) and heat-related disorders were significantly different across multiple experiments, indicating genetic variation. The major component of the phenotypic variation in these experiments was a result of environmental factors. Therefore, plant breeders may still need to evaluate progeny in multiple trials and multiple locations to select heat-tolerant romaine and butterhead lettuce effectively.

Open Access

Target region amplified polymorphism (TRAP) markers were used to evaluate genetic variability among 48 accessions of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), an economically important leafy vegetable crop in many countries. Thirty-eight accessions collected and preserved by the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and 10 commercial hybrids were used in the current study. For assessing genetic diversity within accessions, DNA samples were prepared from nine to 12 individual seedlings from six germplasm accessions and two hybrids. Relatively high levels of polymorphism was found within accessions based on 61 polymorphic TRAP markers generated with two fixed primers derived from the Arabidopsis-type telomere repeat sequence and two arbitrary primers. For evaluating inter-accession variability, DNA was extracted from a bulk of six to 10 seedlings of each accession. Of the 1092 fragments amplified by 14 primer combinations, 96 (8.8%) were polymorphic and discriminated the 48 accessions from each other. The average pair-wise genetic similarity coefficient (Dice, Nei) was 57.5% with a range from 23.2 to 85.3%. A dendrogram was constructed based on the similarity matrix. It was found that the genetic relationships were not highly correlated with the geographic locations in which the accessions were collected. However, seven commercial hybrids were grouped in three separate clusters, suggesting that the phenotype-based breeding activities have effect on the genetic variability. This study demonstrated that TRAP markers are effective for fingerprinting and evaluating genetic variability of spinach germplasm.

Free access

The entire U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) germplasm collection (338 accessions) and 22 commercial cultivars were evaluated for resistance to leaf spot caused by Stemphylium botryosum in a greenhouse trial with two replications in 2004. The resistant and susceptible accessions identified as well as the 22 commercial cultivars were included in a second test in 2005 with four replications to confirm the results. No genotype was completely resistant (immune) to the disease. However, there were significant differences in disease incidence (percent of plants with leaf spot) and severity (percent diseased leaf area) among the genotypes tested. Two accessions from Turkey, PI 169685 and PI 173809, consistently had low disease incidence and severity ratings. Two Spinacia tetrandra and four Spinacia turkestanica accessions screened in these public germplasm tests were all susceptible. None of the commercial cultivars tested consistently had low disease incidence or severity. There was no significant correlation between disease incidence/severity and leaf type (smooth, semisavoy, or savoy). In addition to the public germplasm evaluated, 138 proprietary spinach genotypes (breeding lines and cultivars) were obtained from seed companies and screened along with 10 accessions from the USDA germplasm collection for resistance to Stemphylium leaf spot and Cladosporium leaf spot (caused by Cladosporium variabile) in a greenhouse in both 2004 and 2005. Significant differences in severity of leaf spot were observed among the genotypes for both diseases. For each disease, there was a significant positive correlation in severity ratings of the genotypes between the 2004 and 2005 trials. Information on the relative resistance (or susceptibility) of the spinach germplasm evaluated in this study should be useful for plant breeders to develop leaf spot-resistant cultivars.

Free access

Global warming poses serious threats and challenges to the production of leafy vegetables. Being a cool-season crop, lettuce is particularly vulnerable to heat stress. To adapt to climate change, this study was conducted to evaluate the performance of leaf lettuce genotypes for heat tolerance by growing them in different locations within California that differ in temperatures during the growing season. Fifteen green leaf and 21 red leaf lettuce genotypes were selected to evaluate their performance under these environments. These genotypes were planted in March and May in Five Points (San Joaquin Valley) and El Centro (Imperial Valley) and in June 2012 in Salinas (Salinas Valley). The results suggest that lettuce planting can be extended from January to March beyond the normal growing seasons in San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys, where yield may be higher than in the Salinas Valley. The further delay in planting date from March to May in Five Points and El Centro resulted in reduction of yield and an increase in susceptibility to bolting and heat-related disorders such as tipburn and leaf desiccation in most genotypes. The susceptibility to these disorders depends on the genotype and the temperature during lettuce growth and maturation. However, heat-tolerant leaf lettuce genotypes adapted to these regions were identified. Results of this research should be useful for the development of heat-tolerant lettuce cultivars and for extending the growing season in warmer but lower land cost areas to reduce production costs.

Free access

Little has been done with respect to breeding for salt-tolerant cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) cultivars despite of salt stress being a growing threat to cowpea production. Seedling stage is one the most susceptible stages to salt stress in cowpea. Establishing a streamlined methodology for rapidly screening a large number of genotypes will significantly contribute toward enhancing cowpea breeding for salt tolerance. Therefore, the objective of this study was to establish and validate a simple approach for salt tolerance evaluation in cowpea seedlings. A total of 30 genotypes including two controls (PI582468, a salt-tolerant genotype, and PI255774, a salt-sensitive genotype) were greenhouse-grown under 0 mm and 200 mm NaCl. A total of 14 above-ground traits were evaluated. Results revealed: (1) significant differences were observed in average number of dead plants per pot, leaf injury scores, relative salt tolerance (RST) for chlorophyll, plant height, and leaf and stem biomass among the 30 genotypes; (2) all PI255774 plants were completely dead, whereas those of PI582438 were fully green after 2 weeks of salt stress, which validated this methodology; (3) RST for chlorophyll content was highly correlated with number of dead plants and leaf injury scores; (4) RST for leaf biomass was moderately correlated with number of dead plants and leaf injury scores; and (5) RST in plant height was poorly correlated with number of dead plants and leaf injury scores Therefore, less number of dead plants per pot, high chlorophyll content, and less leaf injury scores were good criteria for salt tolerance evaluation in cowpea. This study provided a simple methodology and suggested straightforward criteria to evaluate salt tolerance at seedling stage in cowpea.

Free access

After a preliminary screening of over 3500 cultivars, we selected 200 butterhead, cos, crisphead, leaf, and stem lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) and wild prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola L.) varieties to test under high water (150% evapotranspiration [ET]) and low water (50% ET) conditions in the field, and tracked commercially relevant traits related to growth and marketability, maturity, and physiology. Plants typically reduced growth and appeared to reallocate developmental resources to achieve maturity quickly, as indicated by traits such as increased core length. This strategy may allow them to complete their life cycle before severe drought stress proves lethal. Although most cultivars experienced a reduction in growth under low water conditions relative to high water conditions, some cultivars had a significantly reduced yield penalty under stress conditions. Among the different types of lettuce, the fresh weight (FW) of cos cultivars was most affected by drought stress, and the FW of leaf lettuce was least affected. Cos cultivars tended to bolt early. Crisphead cultivars Cal-West 80, Heatmaster, and Marion produced large heads and did not bolt under low water treatments, and butterhead cultivars Buttercrunch and Bibb also produced relatively large heads with very little bolting and no signs of tipburn. The four green leaf cultivars Slobolt, Grand Rapids, Western Green, and Australian showed no statistically significant difference in FW among high and low water treatments in multiple trials, and may be good choices for growers who wish to minimize losses under reduced irrigation. The identification of potentially drought-tolerant varieties and the information from this study may be helpful for cultivar selection by growers under drought conditions, but this study also serves as a step forward in the genetic improvement of lettuce to drought stress.

Free access