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  • Author or Editor: G. A. Clark x
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The IdeaMap® software suite and the concept of Mind Genomics® were used to analyze which features of a flower product are influential to consumer perception. By presenting online human subjects with combinations of elements that describe a flower product, a database was created to define how individuals perceive distinct components of an overall flower product. This study was conducted with two separate groups of participants, the first provided by a panelist fielding house and the second administered to an undergraduate introduction to plants and gardening class. The fielding house participants represented various demographic groups throughout the United States and the majority was 40 years of age and older. The undergraduate class participants consisted primarily of white, female students between the ages of 18 and 24 years. Each study participant was exposed to a permutation of flower-based elements derived from six categories: flower color, flower shape, consumer health and wellness, flower fragrance, flower purchase location, and flower use. The results of the two studies illustrated which elements of each flower category appealed to different demographics of the population and were used to identify segments of the population that possessed similar mindsets toward elements of interest and disinterest in regard to a flower product. In both the fielding house and student IdeaMap® studies, the highest and lowest interest values were for elements from the flower fragrance category, indicating that floral fragrance is an important aspect of flowers with respect to current and future consumer satisfaction. Three distinct segments were identified in each study with the segments being primarily concerned with elements involving olfaction, visual, and other attributes of a flower product.

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Blueberries are a high-value fruit that has experienced extraordinary growth in consumption in the past decade. Maintaining this growing market requires an understanding of the current market and its potential for expansion. To assay the impact of 36 specific blueberry sensory and psychological traits on consumer interest, a blueberry fruit quality study was constructed using techniques that allow many features to be tested in an analysis by combining specifics from different categories that describe a product. Individual traits that most impact the likelihood of fruit purchase were identified. Sweet and intense blueberry flavor yielded the most positive purchase interest, whereas bad texture attributes such as seediness were the most detrimental to interest. It was also possible to define two interest segments within the survey population that shared similar responses to particular experimentally assayed traits. The larger segment of the sample population (61%) was most interested in the aspects of blueberry flavor, whereas the second segment of respondents (39%) was most influenced by health aspects commonly associated with blueberry fruit consumption. Both segments responded negatively to bad texture. This study suggests that breeders and producers should exploit genetic and environmental variables that contribute to improved blueberry flavor and that marketing strategies to sell blueberry cultivars of superior flavor may be appropriate.

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Despite production of the first domestically produced peach of the calendar year in the United States, the subtropical peach industry faces marketing challenges, particularly with small fruit size. Although important, size is only one aspect of fruit quality, and not inclusive of all possible fruit quality attributes. Thus, this research asked consumers to identify an “ideal” peach given a combination of possible peach fruit quality attributes to help determine their influence on consumer purchase. These attributes were verified with farmers’ market intercept studies. The top attributes that fostered purchase likelihood included flavor, texture, size, and firmness. Psychophysics studies showed that consumers preferred peaches that were sweet, juicy, round, with freestone or semifreestone characteristics, whereas consumers were less likely to purchase peaches with mealy, dry, or meaty textures. Young consumers (ages 18–24) preferred crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, whereas older consumers (ages 51–65) preferred sweet, melting-texture peaches. Farmers’ market intercept studies found consumers (ages 45–65) preferred melting-texture peaches with good flavor that led to increased overall liking. In addition, in the farmers’ market studies, aroma and flavor were important attributes and were highly correlated with overall liking. Objective measurements of total soluble solids (TSS) were not correlated with overall liking, indicating that although the nationwide experiment found consumers desired sweet peaches, other attributes may contribute more favorably to overall liking.

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‘Beauregard’ sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam.] was developed by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station to combine resistance to diseases and insects of local importance with good horticultural and culinary characteristics. This cultivar, first designated L82-508, is named after Louisiana's renowned civil engineer and “Napo-lean in Grey,” Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.

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Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) is an attractive and popular ornamental plant with propagation mainly achieved through vegetative cuttings. For commercial purposes, it is of interest to enhance the speed of establishment while maintaining high quality. Light quality has been shown to influence adventitious root development, so these experiments examined the effect of narrow-bandwidth light treatments on root growth and overall plant quality for seven coleus cultivars with vegetative cuttings in potting soil and one cultivar with shoot tip in vitro cultures onto Murashige and Skoog (MS) agar medium. During the 28 days of the propagation period, the cuttings grown under narrow-bandwidth red light (R; 663.4 nm at peak) more than doubled in the adventitious root number compared with those under blue light (B; 445.7 nm at peak) and green light (G; 530.0 nm at peak) in five cultivars. R light also increased fresh weight of the cuttings by 55.6% more than G light. In comparison, the cuttings grown under G light yielded significantly lower root and shoot dry mass than other light treatments. R light cuttings showed more dry mass content (9.63%) than those under white light (W; 437.4 nm and 559.5 nm at peak) and G light (7.85% and 5.86%, respectively). A positive correlation (R 2 = 0.598, P < 0.001) was found between the formation of adventitious roots and gained fresh weight of cuttings. R light made the reddish color of leaves significantly stronger in most cultivars, whereas the cuttings exposed to G light became less vivid compared with other light conditions. When the shoot tips were propagated in vitro onto MS medium, R light treatment initiated the root development more rapidly than other lights, with significantly greater rooting rate (20.0% and 63.6%, respectively) at day 5 and 10. The shoot tips under R light also formed significantly more roots (12.3 per cutting) than those grown under narrow-bandwidth B light (5.8 per cutting). The shoot tips showed browning at an early stage and newly emerged leaves grew very compactly under B light. The combination of red and green light (R+G) increased more than twice as much roots and dry mass compared with W light. In addition, the R+G light led to morphological changes, including larger leaves and longer petioles and internodes than those in other light treatments. The exposure to R+G+B and B light made the shoots very compact for the 28 days of in vitro culture period and significantly increased the chlorophyll contents resulting in dark green leaves.

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Fluorescent proteins (FT) have become essential, biological research tools. Many novel genes have been cloned from a variety of species and modified for effective, stable, and strong expression in transgenic organisms. Although there are many applications, FT expression has been employed most commonly at the cellular level in plants. To investigate FT expression at the whole-plant level, particularly in flowers, petunia ‘Mitchell Diploid’ [MD (Petunia ×hybrida)] was genetically transformed with seven genes encoding FTs: DsRed2, E2Crimson, TurboRFP, ZsGreen1, ZsYellow1, rpulFKz1, or aeCP597. Each gene was cloned into a pHK-DEST-OE vector harboring constitutive figwort mosaic virus 35S promoter and NOS-terminator. These plasmids were individually introduced into the genome of MD by Agrobacterium tumefaciens–mediated transformation. Shoot regeneration efficiency from the cocultured explants ranged from 8.3% to 20.3%. Various intensities of red, green, and yellow fluorescence were detected from TurboRFP, ZsGreen1, and ZsYellow1-transgenic flowers, respectively, under ultraviolet light for specific excitation and emission filters. More than 70% of plants established from the regenerated shoots were confirmed as transgenic plants. Transgenic ZsGreen1 petunia generated strong, green fluorescence in all flower organs of T0 plants including petals, stigmas, styles, anthers, and filaments. Most of the chromophores were localized to the cytoplasm but also went into the nuclei of petal cells. There was a positive linear relationship (R 2 = 0.88) between the transgene expression levels and the relative fluorescent intensities of the ZsGreen1-transgenic flowers. No fluorescence was detected from the flowers of DsRed2-, E2Crimson-, rpulFKz1-, or aeCP597-transgenic petunias even though their gene transcripts were confirmed through semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. T1 generation ZsGreen1 plants showed green fluorescence emission from the cotyledons, hypocotyls, and radicles, which indicated stable FT expression was heritable. Four homozygous T2 inbred lines were finally selected. Throughout this study, we demonstrated that ZsGreen1 was most suitable for generating visible fluorescence in MD flowers among the seven genes tested. Thus, ZsGreen1 may have excellent potential for better utility as a sensitive selectable marker.

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The yield of three generations of virus-tested plants of `Beauregard' sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) was assessed in Louisiana over a 4-year period in 15 yield trials. Treatments included virus-infected foundation `Beauregard', virus-tested `Beauregard' mericlone, B-63 [generation 1 (G-1)], and three generations of B-63 (G-2, G-3 and G-4). Generations refer to the number of continuous years virus-tested plants are grown in the field. Use of G-2 virus-tested `Beauregard' transplants increased yields of U.S. no. 1 grade roots by 16% in comparison with virus-infected, foundation `Beauregard'. Total marketable yield was also higher (11%) using B-63 G-2 transplants in comparison to virus-infected, foundation `Beauregard'. Use of B-63 (G-1), G-3 and G-4 generation transplants did not increase yields in any grade in comparison to virus-infected, foundation `Beauregard' by planting plots amidst virus-infested sweetpotato fields. Generation one B-63 transplants were greenhouse grown and often appeared less robust after planting. Yet we were unable to show significant yield differences between greenhouse derived B-63 (G-1) and field-grown B-63 (G-1) in separate tests; other factors may be involved.

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