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Chieri Kubota, Natsuko Kakizaki, Toyoki Kozai, Koichi Kasahara and Jun Nemoto

Nodal explants of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were cultured in vitro to evaluate the effects of sugar concentration, photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), CO2 concentration, ventilation rate of the vessel, and leaf removal on growth and photosynthesis. After 20 days of culture, the dry weights of plantlets derived from explants with leaves and cultured photoautotrophically (without sugar in the medium) under high PPF, high CO2 concentration, and high ventilation rate were more than twice as great as those of plantlets derived conventionally from explants without leaves and cultured photomixotrophically (with sugar in the medium) under low PPF, low CO2 concentration, and low ventilation rate (107 and 45 mg per plantlet, respectively). Under photomixotrophic micropropagation conditions, the dry weights of plantlets from explants with leaves increased more than did those of plantlets from explants without leaves. High PPF, high CO2 concentration, and high ventilation rate increased net photosynthetic rate and promoted growth of the plantlets under photomixotrophic micropropagation conditions. Photomixotrophic conditions produced the greatest dry weight and the longest shoots, but photoautotrophic conditions produced the highest net photosynthetic rate. The number of leaves did not differ significantly between photoautotrophically and photomixotrophically cultured plantlets. Thus, photoautotrophic micropropagation is applicable to the production of high quality tomato transplants.

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Chieri Kubota, Makiko Ezawa, Toyoki Kozai and Sandra B. Wilson

The effects of initial sucrose (suc) concentrations in the medium (S0) on the carbon balance and growth of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. `Beniazuma'] and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `HanaQueen') plantlets were studied under controlled environmental conditions. Plantlets were cultured with 0, 7.5, 15, or 30 g·L-1 of S0 under high photosynthetic photon flux (160 to 200 μmol·m-2·s-1) and CO2 enriched (1400 to 2050 μmol·mol-1) conditions. Net photosynthetic rate per leaf area (Pl) decreased and dry weight per plantlet (Wd) increased with increasing S0, but did not differ significantly between S0 of 7.5 to 30 g·L-1 for sweetpotato or 15 to 30 g·L-1 for tomato. Carbon influxes and effluxes of the plantlets by metabolism of medium suc and/or photosynthesis, and respiration were estimated based on measurements of in situ and steady state CO2 exchange rates and sugar uptake during culture. At S0 from 7.5 to 30 g·L-1, photosynthesis was responsible for 82% to 92% and 60% to 67% of carbohydrate assimilation for sweetpotato and tomato, respectively. Estimated carbon balances of plantlets based on the estimated and actual increases of moles of carbon in plant tissue demonstrated that in situ estimation of carbon balance was reasonably accurate for sweetpotato at S0 of 0 to 15 g·L-1 and for tomato at S0 of 0 g·L-1 and that the actual contribution of photosynthesis for tomato at high S0 might be lower than the values estimated in the present experiment. Results showed that initial suc concentration affected the relative contribution of photosynthesis on their carbon balances and that the responses were species specific. The failure of validation at S0 in a range specific to each species suggested the need for further study on carbon metabolism of in vitro plantlets cultured with sugar in the medium.

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Chieri Kubota, Nihal C. Rajapakse and Roy E. Young

Broccoli `Green Duke' plantlets, which were ready for transplanting after 2 weeks of photoautotrophic (sugar-free) culture under the conditions of 1100 μmol·mol–1 CO2 (outside the vessel), 22±4C air temperature, and 140 μmol·m–2·s–1 photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), were stored for 6 weeks at 5C in darkness or in white, red, or blue light at 2 μmol·m–2·s–1 PPF. Photoperiod was set at 24 h/day during storage. Spectral quality significantly affected plantlet quality: stem length was longer and chlorophyll concentration of leaves was lower in red or in blue light than in white light or in darkness after 6 weeks in storage. Regardless of the spectral quality, light in storage maintained plantlet dry weight at a level comparable to that before storage, while dry weight was reduced significantly in dark-stored plantlets. Spectral quality did not significantly affect the photosynthetic and regrowth potential of plantlets. All plantlets stored in light, regardless of light spectra, showed comparably high photosynthetic ability after storage and had similar dry weight, number of leaves, and stem length after 9 weeks of transplanting to the greenhouse under natural light.

Open access

Daniel P. Gillespie, Chieri Kubota and Sally A. Miller

Rootzone pH affects nutrient availability for plants. Hydroponic leafy greens are grown in nutrient solutions with pH 5.5 to 6.5. Lower pH may inhibit plant growth, whereas pathogenic oomycete growth and reproduction may be mitigated. General understanding of pH effects on nutrient availability suggests likely toxicity and deficiency of specific micronutrients. We hypothesized that if adjustments are made to the micronutrient concentrations in solution, plants will grow in lower-than-conventional pH without nutrient disorders, while oomycete disease incidence and severity may be reduced. To develop a new nutrient solution management strategy, we examined pH of 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, and 5.5 with or without micronutrient adjustments for growing two cultivars of basil plants Dolce Fresca and Nufar in a greenhouse hydroponic deep-water culture (DWC) system. Micronutrient adjustments included reduced concentrations of copper, zinc, manganese, and boron by one-half and doubled molybdenum concentration. Plants harvested 20 to 28 days after transplanting did not show significant effects of pH or the micronutrient adjustment. Phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, manganese, and zinc concentrations in leaves significantly declined, while potassium and aluminum concentrations increased with decreasing pH. However, these changes and therefore micronutrient adjustments did not affect basil plant growth significantly. ‘Nufar’ basil plants were then grown in a growth chamber DWC system at pH 4.0 or a conventional 5.5 with and without inoculation of Pythium aphanidermatum zoospores. Fourteen days after inoculation, P. aphanidermatum oospore production was confirmed only for the inoculated plants in pH 5.5 solution, where a significant reduction of plant growth was observed. The results of the present study indicate that maintaining nutrient solution pH at 4.0 can effectively suppress the severity of root rot caused by P. aphanidermatum initiated by zoospore inoculation without influencing basil growth.

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Chieri Kubota, Michael A. McClure, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, Michael G. Bausher and Erin N. Rosskopf

Grafting of vegetable seedlings is a unique horticultural technology practiced for many years in East Asia to overcome issues associated with intensive cultivation using limited arable land. This technology was introduced to Europe and other countries in the late 20th century along with improved grafting methods suitable for commercial production of grafted vegetable seedlings. Later, grafting was introduced to North America from Europe and it is now attracting growing interest, both from greenhouse growers and organic producers. Grafting onto specific rootstocks generally provides resistance to soilborne diseases and nematodes and increases yield. Grafting is an effective technology for use in combination with more sustainable crop production practices, including reduced rates and overall use of soil fumigants in many other countries. Currently, over 40 million grafted tomato seedlings are estimated to be used annually in North American greenhouses, and several commercial trials have been conducted for promoting use of grafted melon seedlings in open fields. Nevertheless, there are issues identified that currently limit adoption of grafted seedlings in North America. One issue unique to North America is the large number of seedlings needed in a single shipment for large-scale, open-field production systems. Semi- or fully-automated grafting robots were invented by several agricultural machine industries in the 1990s, yet the available models are limited. The lack of flexibility of the existing robots also limits their wider use. Strategies to resolve these issues are discussed, including the use of a highly controlled environment to promote the standardized seedlings suitable for automation and better storage techniques. To use this technology widely in North American fresh vegetable production, more information and locally collected scientific and technical data are needed.

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Ryo Matsuda, Chieri Kubota, M. Lucrecia Alvarez and Guy A. Cardineau

Biopharmaceutical protein production is a new application of plant biotechnology. Nevertheless, there is limited information for potential protein productivity in commercial production operation. The objective of this study was to characterize the growth and development as well as fruit and protein productivities of transgenic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants in comparison with two nontransgenic reference cultivars under greenhouse conditions with commercially adopted cultural practice. Transgenic tomatoes expressing a predominant antigen fusion protein, F1-V, against plague were used as a model system. Three types of tomatoes were grown for this study: 1) a transgenic T 2 line, ‘F1-V’; 2) the background wild-type cultivar, TA234; and 3) a commercial greenhouse cultivar well adopted in North America, Durinta. All plants were grown hydroponically in a greenhouse equipped with heating and evaporative cooling systems for 24 to 30 weeks. When comparing ‘F1-V’ with ‘TA234’, there were no significant differences in growth, cumulative fruit yield, fruit total soluble protein (TSP) concentration, nor cumulative TSP production between the two genotypes. Although there was a difference in plant leaf morphology, this suggests that the transformation event did not affect the key traits of biopharmaceutical protein production. When comparing ‘F1-V’ with ‘Durinta’, ‘Durinta’ yielded more fruit than did ‘F1-V’, although final vegetative biomass of the two genotypes was not significantly different. Cumulative fruit yield per plant of ‘Durinta’ for 13 weeks of harvest was almost twice that of ‘F1-V’. However, TSP concentration of fruits of ‘Durinta’ was only 12% to 34% of that of ‘F1-V’, making the estimated cumulative TSP production by fruits approximately half that of ‘Durinta’. Our results suggest that biomass productivity is not necessarily the high-priority trait in selecting cultivars for high-value protein production and that protein concentration of fruits may be an important factor.

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Milton E. Tignor*, Gene A. Giacomelli, Tracy A. Irani, Chieri Kubota, Margaret J. McMahon, Sandra B. Wilson and David A. Heleba

Currently, in the United States, the greenhouse industry covers more than 15,000 acres and is supported by a diverse number of firms with employee expertise that includes greenhouse manufacturing, engineering, irrigation, horticulture, IPM, sales, marketing, and business management. The growing greenhouse industry continues to be in need of highly trained undergraduates that have mastered an amalgam of scientific and business concepts necessary to be competitive in today's agricultural marketplace. Using a multidisciplinary approach we are creating a multimedia instrument for utilization in a variety of greenhouse related courses. This instrument ultimately will be available on the web for anyone to access. To ensure that our vision matches need, we have reviewed the courses offered throughout the United States at 1862, 1890, and 1994 land grant institutions. Course information collected includes; college, Dept., title, level, description, website (if available) and instructor e-mail (if available). Interestingly, there are at least 84 courses offering some aspect of greenhouse science in the U.S. Most are offered in Colleges of Agriculture or Engineering, but are housed in 17 diverse Dept.s. Examples include Dept.s of Horticulture; Agronomy and Horticulture; Agricultural Biosystems and Engineering; Plant, Soil, and Entomological Science; and Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape & Parks. This information will be utilized to focus the instructional design phase of the multimedia instrument, to contact current course instructors for feedback, and to frame future development of the resource.

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Chieri Kubota, Mark Kroggel, Mohammad Torabi, Katherine A. Dietrich, Hyun-Jin Kim, Jorge Fonseca and Cynthia A. Thomson

‘Durinta’ tomatoes were grown hydroponically using rockwool substrate in greenhouses to assess the seasonal and postharvest changes of selected quality attributes including lycopene and total soluble solids (TSS, % Brix) concentrations in fruit when grown under varied electrical conductivity (EC) in the nutrient solution. Two levels of EC examined in this study were 2.4 and 4.8 dS·m−1 for standard low EC and high EC treatments, respectively. All fruits at light-red and red ripeness stages were harvested and weighed every week, and nine fruits visually representing the median group of red fruits were selected from each EC treatment and subject to measurements of lycopene and TSS concentrations. Of 53 harvest weeks (Dec. 2005 to Dec. 2006), 45 weeks were subject to fruit quality analyses at harvest and 3 weeks were subject to postharvest quality analyses. Lycopene concentration and TSS showed seasonal differences with larger variation in lycopene, but the high EC treatment induced an overall average of 18% greater lycopene concentration and a 20% greater TSS. The regression analyses indicated that efflux solution EC (EEC) was the most influential factor for both lycopene and TSS concentrations, but secondary influential factors were greenhouse temperature for lycopene and daily light integral for TSS. Postharvest storage test showed that selected fruit quality attributes (lycopene, TSS, ascorbic acid, and total phenolics) changed minimally or not at all for 10 days when stored at 12 °C, a widely recommended tomato postharvest storage temperature. Overall, we consider that producing lycopene-rich tomato by controlling EC of nutrient solution was feasible during year-round greenhouse production using a high-wire rockwool culture system.

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Arend-Jan Both, Bruce Bugbee, Chieri Kubota, Roberto G. Lopez, Cary Mitchell, Erik S. Runkle and Claude Wallace

Electric lamps are widely used to supplement sunlight (supplemental lighting) and daylength extension (photoperiodic lighting) for the production of horticultural crops in greenhouses and controlled environments. Recent advances in light-emitting diode (LED) technology now provide the horticultural industry with multiple lighting options. However, growers are unable to compare technologies and LED options because of insufficient data on lamp performance metrics. Here, we propose a standardized product label that facilitates the comparison of lamps across manufacturers. This label includes the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) efficacy, PAR conversion efficiency, photon flux density output in key wave bands, as well as the phytochrome photostationary state (PSS), red/far red ratio, and graphs of the normalized photon flux density across the 300–900 nm wave band and a horizontal distribution of the light output.

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Milton E. Tignor, Sandra B. Wilson, Gene A. Giacomelli, Chieri Kubota, Efren Fitz-Rodriguez, Tracy A. Irani, Emily B. Rhoades and Margaret J. McMahon