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  • Author or Editor: Beiquan Mou* x
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) is an important vegetable worldwide with high nutritional and health-promoting compounds. Bolting is an important trait to consider to grow spinach in different seasons and regions. Plant height and leaf erectness are important traits for machine harvesting. Breeding slow bolting, taller, and more erect spinach cultivars is needed for improved spinach production. A total of 288 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spinach accessions were used as the association panel in this research. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) discovered through genotyping by sequencing (GBS) were used for genotyping. Two structured populations and the admixtures were inferred for the 288 spinach accession panel using STRUCTURE and MEGA. Association mapping was conducted using single-marker regression (SMR) in QGene, and general linear model (GLM) and mixed linear model (MLM) built in TASSEL. Three SNP markers, AYZV02001321_398, AYZV02041012_1060, and AYZV02118171_95 were identified to be associated with bolting. Eight SNP markers, AYZV02014270_540, AYZV02250508_2162, AYZV02091523_19842, AYZV02141794_376, AYZV02077023_64, AYZV02210662_2532, AYZV02153224_2197, and AYZV02003975_248 were found to be associated with plant height. Four SNP markers, AYZV02188832_229, AYZV02219088_79, AYZV02030116_256, and AYZV02129827_197 were associated with erectness. These SNP markers may provide breeders with a tool in spinach molecular breeding to select spinach bolting, plant height, and erectness through marker-assisted selection (MAS).

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Historically, wilt disease caused by Verticillium dahliae has not presented a problem in California spinach production because the crop is harvested well before the symptoms develop after the stem elongation (bolting) stage. However, infested spinach seeds introduce or increase inoculum in the soil for rotational crops such as lettuce. This investigation was designed to identify verticillium wilt-resistant accessions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spinach germplasm collection against races 1 and 2 of V. dahliae, and to examine seed transmission of the pathogen in different spinach genotypes. In a seed health assay of 392 accessions, 21(5.4%) were positive for V. dahliae, and 153 (39%) were positive for Verticillium isaacii. A total of 268 accessions plus nine commercial cultivars were then screened against one race 1 and two race 2 isolates from spinach in replicated greenhouse experiments. Disease incidence, severity, and seed transmission through plating on NP-10 medium and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were assessed. There was wide variation among accessions in their response to V. dahliae with disease incidence ranging from 0% to 100%. The two race 2 isolates differed in their virulence against spinach genotypes. Resistant accessions were identified against both races 1 and 2. Recovery of V. dahliae from seeds plated on NP-10 medium and qPCR results were highly correlated (P = 0.00014). Some accessions identified as resistant based on disease incidence showed little seed transmission of the pathogen. Even though lower wilt incidence and severity generally corresponded with lower seed transmission rates, there were exceptions (r = 0.52). Variation among plants within accessions was also observed. Nevertheless, the sources of resistance identified in this study are useful for spinach cultivar improvement.

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Impacts of drought stress on crop production can significantly impair farmer’s revenue, hence adversely impacting the gross national product growth. For cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.], which is a legume of economic importance, effects of drought at early vegetative growth could lead to substantial yield losses. However, little has been done with respect to breeding for cowpea cultivars withstanding drought at early vegetative growth. In addition, previous investigations have focused on how plant morphology and root architecture can confer drought tolerance in cowpea, which is not sufficient in efforts to unravel unknown drought tolerance–related genetic mechanisms, potentially of great importance in breeding, and not pertaining to either plant morphology or root architecture. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate aboveground drought-related traits of cowpea genotypes at seedling stage. A total of 30 cowpea genotypes were greenhouse grown within boxes and the experimental design was completely randomized with three replicates. Drought stress was imposed for 28 days. Data on a total of 17 aboveground-related traits were collected. Results showed the following: 1) a large variation in these traits was found among the genotypes; 2) more trifoliate wilt/chlorosis tolerance but more unifoliate wilt/chlorosis susceptible were observed; 3) delayed senescence was related to the ability of maintaining a balanced chlorophyll content in both unifoliate and trifoliate leaves; and 4) the genotypes PI293469, PI349674, and PI293568 were found to be slow wilting and drought tolerant. These results could contribute to advancing breeding programs for drought tolerance in cowpea.

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Baby leaf lettuce cultivars with resistance to bacterial leaf spot (BLS) caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vitians (Xcv) are needed to reduce crop losses. The objectives of this research were to assess the genetic diversity for BLS resistance in baby leaf lettuce cultivars and to select early generation populations of lettuce with BLS resistance. Greenhouse experiments using artificial Xcv inoculations were conducted to assess BLS resistance in 35 cultivars of 10 lettuce types used in baby leaf production and in F2 through F3:4 progeny from ‘Batavia Reine des Glaces’ (BLS-resistant, green leaf color) × ‘Eruption’ (BLS-susceptible, red leaf color). Higher disease severity was identified in red leaf and red romaine cultivars compared with other types, indicating the need to target these types for resistance breeding. Selection for BLS resistance and red-colored leaves was therefore conducted among 486 F2 plants, 38 F2:3 families, and two populations of F3:4 families from ‘Batavia Reine des Glaces’ × ‘Eruption’. Two populations were identified with uniform levels of BLS resistance equivalent to ‘Batavia Reine des Glaces’ and variable leaf morphology and color. These populations can be used by private and publicly employed lettuce breeders to select for diverse types of lettuce cultivars suitable for baby leaf production and with BLS resistance.

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