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  • Author or Editor: Patrick J. Conner x
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Alternate bearing is a major economic problem for producers of pecan nuts [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch], yet a fundamental understanding of alternate bearing remains elusive. Nut yields (over a period of up to 78 years) from a commercial-like orchard of 66 cultivars was used to calculate alternate bearing intensity (I). Best-fit regression analysis indicates no association between I and fruit ripening date (FRD) or nut volume; although, there was moderate association with post-ripening foliation periods (PRFP) in that I tends to decrease as the length of the PRFP decreases. Multiple regression models indicated that FRD and nut volume were poor predictors of I: however, PRFP possessed significant inverse predictive power. Late-season canopy health, as measured by percentage of leaflet retention, decreased as FRD approached early-season ripening. Late-season photoassimilation rate was high er on foliage of trees with late FRDs than those with mid- or early-season ripening dates. These data provide new insight into the complex nature of alternate bearing in pecan and provide evidence for modifying the existing theories of alternate bearing of pecan.

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Molecular markers (isozyme and DNA) have been used to map apple and have helped to elucidate the inheritance of some morphological traits. In this project random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and isozyme markers were used to create maps for `Wijcik McIntosh, a columnar (reduced branching) sport of `McIntosh' and NY 75441-67, an advanced selection from the multiple disease resistance breeding program. NY 75441-67 is resistant to scab source of resistance from M. floribunda) and resistant to cedar apple rust. `Wijcik McIntosh' is being used in the breeding program as a source of the dominant gene, Co, for reduced branching, but there is also interest in this genotype because of the tremendous variation in plant form observed in progenies segregating for columnar habit. Some of these form variants may be of greater commercial interest than the parental material. Morphological traits examined in this progeny included plant height, stem diameter, suckering, branching habit, spur production, and internode length. The usefulness of molecular markers to pre-select for components of plant form is being examined. Molecular markers promise to aid our understanding and manipulation of quantitative morphological traits.

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Phytophthora blight caused by Phytophthora capsici Leon. is one of the most important diseases of bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) in Georgia. The level of resistance in commercial bell pepper cultivars is not effective in managing this disease in moist and humid conditions, and new sources of resistance are needed. A mixture of six Georgia isolates of P. capsici was used for greenhouse mass screening of 2301 accessions of Capsicum annuum. From the initial screening, 77 accessions were identified as resistant to P. capsici-induced root rot. From those 77 accessions, 28 accessions were selected for seed increase and further replicated root inoculation tests. Replicated tests confirmed the resistance of 14 of the 28 accessions, although genetic variability within the accessions hampered the analysis of resistance in some accessions. Two accessions, PI 201237 and PI 640532, demonstrated consistently high levels of resistance to root rot. These two accessions are potential sources of resistance genes that can be incorporated into commercial bell pepper cultivars.

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Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) is the first native North American grape to be domesticated. During the past century, breeding programs have created a large collection of muscadine cultivars. Muscadine cultivars are usually identified by evaluating morphological traits and checking breeding records, which can be ambiguous and unauthentic. During this study, simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to generate DNA fingerprinting profiles to identify muscadine cultivars and verify their reported pedigrees. Eighty-nine Vitis accessions were genotyped using 20 SSRs from 13 linkage groups. From these, 81 unique subgenus Muscadinia accessions were identified, and a core set of five SSR markers was able to distinguish all of them. Eighteen misidentifications were found, and five previously unknown accessions were matched with cultivars in the dataset. The profiles of 12 cultivars were not consistent with their reported parentage–progeny relationships. Genetic diversity was analyzed at four levels: all V. rotundifolia cultivars (N = 67); current cultivars (N = 39); historical cultivars (N = 28); and wild V. rotundifolia accessions (N = 9). There was substantial genetic diversity in both wild and historically cultivated muscadines. The principle coordinate analysis (PCoA) showed clear separation among subgenus Vitis cultivars, wild muscadine accessions, and cultivated muscadines, with PCoA1 and PCoA2 explaining 11.0% and 9.3% of the total variation, respectively.

Open Access

Genetic linkage maps were created for three apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivars using data from two progenies (`Wijcik McIntosh' xNY 75441-67 and `Wijcik McIntosh' xNY 75441-58). The maps consist primarily of randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers, but also contain six isozyme loci and four morphological markers (Rf , fruit skin color; Vf , scab resistance; Co, columnar growth habit; Ma, malic acid). Maps were constructed using a double pseudotestcross mapping format and JoinMap mapping software. An integrated `Wijcik McIntosh' map was produced by combining marker data from both progenies into a single linkage map. Homologous linkage groups from paternal maps were paired with their counterparts in the `Wijcik McIntosh' map using locus bridges composed of markers heterozygous in both parents of a progeny. The `Wijcik McIntosh' map consists of 238 markers arranged in 19 linkage groups spanning 1206 cM. The NY 75441-67 map contains 110 markers in 16 linkage groups and the NY 75441-58 map consists of 183 markers in 18 linkage groups. The average distance between markers in the maps was ≈5.0 cM.

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Stenospermocarpic seedlessness from Vitis vinifera L. is being introgressed into muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.) germplasm through the use of a cross-fertile hybrid of the two species. Recently, a sequence-tagged site (STS) molecular marker, p3_VvAGL11, has been developed which enables detection of the dominant allele controlling stenospermocarpic seedlessness in V. vinifera. This marker was evaluated in six Euvitis Planch. × Muscadinia Planch. hybrid progenies to determine its association with seedlessness in this material. The presence of the 214-bp seedlessness-associated p3_VvAGL11 allele in seedling vines resulted in a nearly 3-fold reduction in mean seed fresh weight (MSFW) and significantly reduced mean seed weight per berry (MSWB), percent berry weight composed of seed (BWCS), and mean berry weight (MBW). When the lack of lignified seed was used as the determinant of seedlessness, the p3_VvAGL11 marker was able to correctly judge seedlessness in ≈85% of the progeny. Analysis of seedlessness in the progenies was hampered by poor vigor and fruiting ability of the hybrid seedlings. The p3_VvAGL11 marker shows potential to speed the introduction of the stenospermocarpic seedlessness into Muscadinia germplasm by identifying seedless progeny at the seedling stage.

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Previous studies with a variety of tree species have demonstrated enhanced flowering, fruit set, and yield with foliar boron (B) applications. The effects of foliar-applied B on pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] in the southeastern United States are poorly understood. This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of foliar B application on leaf tissue B concentration, fruit retention, and kernel quality of pecan. Controlled pollination studies showed no effect of B on fruit retention of ‘Stuart’ pecan. Tissue B concentration, fruit retention, and percent kernel of ‘Desirable’ pecan were occasionally enhanced by both two and five B applications made before and through the pollination window in multiple studies over 3 years. As long as leaf B is within the recommended sufficiency range, timing of foliar B application during the critical prepollination period appears to be more valuable for pecan production than are increasing leaf B levels. Given the production enhancements observed here, and the low cost of B fertilizers, the practice of foliar B application merits consideration as a component of pecan orchard management when tank-mixed with normal prepollination pesticide or nutrient sprays.

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Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia var. rotundifolia) is a rare crop in that it has transitioned from a wild fruiting plant to a domesticated fruit within the past 150 years. Furthermore, this domestication process was carried out by just a few institutions that published copious records of the origin and traits of the first wild selections, goals and methods of the breeding programs, and the pedigrees of releases. We thus have a near complete record of the domestication of this interesting fruit crop. Early breeding efforts made use of fewer than a dozen wild selections, most of which were collected from the coastal plain of North Carolina and South Carolina. This narrow germplasm base has led to increasing levels of inbreeding in the most recent muscadine cultivar releases. To better understand the germplasm base of muscadine, the pedigrees of 54 muscadine cultivars released since 1970 were examined. Only 15 founders (founding clones) were identified that appeared in more than two cultivars, and five of these represent open pollination events that may not indicate the addition of new genetic material. By far the most used founder was ‘Scuppernong’, which appeared in 53 of 54 pedigrees and had an average genetic contribution of 22.8%. The remaining founders varied from 0.9% to 14.8% in their average genetic contribution. Coancestry coefficients between cultivars averaged 0.18, but were often much higher among recent fresh-market releases. Analysis of vine vigor as measured by trunk caliper in seedling progenies suggests that coancestry coefficients greater than 0.23 result in below average seedling vigor. The University of Georgia muscadine breeding program is evaluating multiple wild muscadine accessions to reduce inbreeding and increase the genetic diversity of its germplasm.

Open Access