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  • Author or Editor: John Ruter x
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Genome size estimates and chromosome number information can be useful for studying the evolution or taxonomy of a group and also can be useful for plant breeders in predicting cross-compatibility. Callicarpa L. is a group of ≈140 species with nearly worldwide distribution. There are no estimates of genome size in the literature and the information on chromosome numbers is limited. Genome size estimates based on flow cytometry are reported here for 16 accessions of Callicarpa comprising 14 species in addition to chromosome counts on six species. Chromosome counts were conducted by staining meristematic cells of roots tips using modified carbol fuchsin. Holoploid genome size estimates ranged from 1.34 pg to 3.48 pg with a mean of 1.74 pg. Two tetraploids (2n = 4x = 68; C. salicifolia P'ei & W. Z. Fang and C. macrophylla Vahl GEN09-0081) were identified based on holoploid genome size and confirmed by chromosome counts. There was little variation among species for monoploid genome size. 1Cx-values ranged from 0.67 pg to 0.88 pg with a mean of 0.77 pg. Chromosome counts for six species revealed a base chromosome number of x = 17. Callicarpa chejuensis Y. H. Chung & H. Kim, C. japonica Thunb. ‘Leucocarpa’, C. longissima Merr., and C. rubella Lindl. were confirmed as diploids (2n = 2x = 34). Cytology supported flow cytometry data that C. salicifolia and C. macrophylla GEN09-0081 were tetraploids. The two accessions of C. macrophylla included in the study were found to be of different ploidy levels. The presence of two ploidy levels among and within species indicates that polyploidization events have occurred in the genus.

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Hibiscus moscheutos L. is an herbaceous hibiscus native to eastern North America that has been a popular landscape and container plant exhibiting large and colorful flowers in the summer. However, unsightly fruit develop and remain on the stalks at the end of the blooming season, which greatly decreases the ornamental value. Thus, breeding for sterility was attempted through ploidy level manipulation to reduce formation and growth of seed stalks, and to improve blooming vigor and longevity. Colchicine and oryzalin were used as mitotic inhibitors to induce tetraploid breeding lines that could be used to develop sterile triploids. Germinated seedlings of ‘Luna Red’ were soaked in three concentrations of each doubling agent for three different durations. Exposure to a low concentration of colchicine solution for a long time or to a low concentration of oryzalin for a short period was found to be effective in yielding a high number of tetraploids with a low rate of mortality. Triploids were obtained from the traditional method of crossing tetraploids with diploids. Triploid and tetraploid plants showed a decrease in height with a more compact form. Leaves of tetraploid plants were more ruffled, with an increase in overall leaf thickness, but were not different from leaves of diploids and triploids in regard to leaf mass per area (LMA). Triploid plants bloomed longer but had smaller flowers than diploid plants. Although the whole planting was infected by aerial phytophthora, diploid, tetraploid, and triploid plants were significantly different in their tolerances: all diploid branches were infected, but only a minor infection occurred on one triploid branch, and the transmission remained slow. Flowers of tetraploid plants failed to produce pollen, whereas flowers of triploid plants produced only nonviable pollen grains and fruits aborted after pollination, which led to infertility of induced triploids.

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Interest in plant species that support pollinator health has been increasing in recent years. As a result, research into these historically overlooked species is increasing. One such taxon is milkweed (Asclepias spp.), a genus primarily native to North America that serves as an oviposition and food source for various pollinators, especially the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus L.). Although exhaustive research has been conducted on Asclepias flower morphology, seed production, and pollinator impact, little cytological work has been published. Knowing the genome size of species can predict their ability to hybridize and the potential of genetic variability within a genus. Our study used 15 different Asclepias species and four interspecific Asclepias hybrids, and the total genomic content was calculated using propidium iodide. We found the 2C genome size ranged from 0.65 to 1.24 picograms. To our knowledge, our research presents data on eight species with previously unknown genomic content and is the first to report 2C values for interspecific Asclepias hybrids.

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Plants of `Rotundifolia' holly (Ilex crenata Thunb.) were grown for 3 weeks with root zones at 30,34,38, or 42C for 6 hours daily to evaluate the effects of supraoptimal root-zone temperatures on various photosynthetic processes. After 3 weeks, photosynthesis of plants grown with root zones at 38 or 42C was below that of plants grown at 30 or 34C. Chlorophyll and carotenoid levels decreased while leaf soluble protein levels increased as root-zone temperature increased. Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO) activity per unit protein and per unit chlorophyll responded quadratically, while RuBisCO activity per unit fresh weight increased linearly in response to increasing root-zone temperature. Results of this study suggest that `Rotundifolia' holly was capable of altering metabolism or redistributing available assimilates to maintain CO2 assimilation rates in response to increasing root-zone temperatures.

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Temperature sensitivity of CO2 assimilation (ACO2), dark respiration, and chlorophyll fluorescence was evaluated among three taxa of hollies including I. aquifolium L., I. cornuta Lindl. & Paxt., and I. rugosa Friedr. Schmidt. Variations in foliar heat tolerance among these species were manifested in temperature responses for ACO2. Temperature optima of ACO2 for I. rugosa, I. cornuta, and I. aquifolium were 22.0, 26.3, and 27.9 °C, respectively (LSD0.05 = 2.9). Temperature responses of respiration were similar among taxa and did not appear to be contributing factors to variations in ACO2. At 40 °C, potential photosynthetic capacity, measured under saturating CO2, was 4.1, 9.4, and 14.8 μmol·m-2·s-1 for I. rugosa, I. aquifolium, and I. cornuta, respectively (LSD0.05 = 5.1). Variations in the relative dark-acclimated fluorescence temperature curves were used to assess thresholds for irreversible heat injury. The critical fluorescence temperature threshold (TC) was similar (48.0 °C) for all taxa. The fluorescence temperature peaks (TP) were 52.0, 52.8, and 53.5 °C for I. rugosa, I. cornuta, and I. aquifolium, respectively (LSD0.05 = 0.9). Based on these results, I. rugosa was the most heat-sensitive species, followed by I. aquifolium and I. cornuta. Ilex cornuta also had substantially greater potential photosynthetic capacity than the other species at 40 °C, indicating superior metabolic tolerance to high temperatures.

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Ilex crenata Thunb. `Rotundifolia' split-root plants were grown for 3 weeks with root zones at 30/30, 30/34, 30/38, 30/42, 34/34, 38/38, and 42/42C. The 38C root-zone treatment was the upper threshold for several growth and physiological characteristics. A portion of the root system grown at or near the optimum temperature could compensate, in terms of shoot growth, for part of the root system exposed to supraoptimal root-zone temperatures up to 38C. Higher root-zone temperatures did not affect short-term photosynthetic rates or root : shoot ratios, but altered photosynthate partitioning to various stem and root sinks. Although no differences were found for total 14C partitioned to the roots, partitioning of 14C into soluble and insoluble fractions and the magnitude of root respiration and exudation were influenced by treatment. Heating half of a root system at 38C increased the amount of 14C respired from the heated side and increased the total CO2respired from the nonheated (30C) half. Exposure of both root halves to 42C resulted in membrane damage that increased the loss of 14C-labeled photosynthates through leakage into the medium.

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Salvia is the largest genus in the Lamiaceae with more than 1000 species. The species S. coccinea used in this study has naturalized in the southeastern United States and is an important plant for pollinators. This project aimed to improve phenotypic characteristics of S. coccinea for use in the landscape by selecting for increased petal size and unique petal color. Two elite accessions were selected for hybridization using the pedigree method. One selection displayed compact habit with bicolored coral and white flowers, while the other was slightly larger with solid red flowers. Selections were made based on improved flower color and larger petal size. The breeding program achieved a 25% increase in petal width and a more vivid petal color for the coral bicolored selections. Additionally, a 60% increase in petal width was achieved for red flowers. These novel selections are attractive plants for the landscape, displaying improved ornamental value and supporting local pollinator populations.

Open Access

Excessive irrigation and leaching are of increasing concern in container plant production. It can also necessitate multiple fertilizer applications, which is costly for growers. Our objective was to determine whether fertilizer and irrigation water can be applied more efficiently to reduce leachate volume and nutrient content without negatively impacting aboveground growth of Gardenia jasminoides ‘MAGDA I’. Plants were fertilized with one of three rates of a controlled-release fertilizer (subplots) (Florikan 18–6–8, 9–10 month release; 18.0N–2.6P–6.6K) [100 (40 g/plant), 50 (20 g/plant), and 25% of bag rate (10 g/plant)] and grown in 5.4-L containers outside for 137 days. Soil moisture sensor-controlled, automated irrigation was used to provide plants with one of four irrigation volumes (whole plots) (66, 100, 132, or 165 mL) at each irrigation event. All plants were irrigated when the control treatment (66 mL irrigation volume, 100% fertilizer treatment) reached a volumetric water content (VWC) of 0.35 m3·m−3. Plants in the different irrigation treatments were irrigated for 2, 3, 4, or 5 minutes, thus applying 66, 100, 132, or 165 mL/plant in the different irrigation treatments. Fertilizer rate had a greater effect on aboveground growth than irrigation volume with the 25% fertilizer rate resulting in significantly lower shoot dry weight (18.7 g/plant) than the 50% and 100% rates (25.3 and 27.3 g/plant respectively). Growth index was also lowest in the 25% fertilizer rate. Leachate volume varied greatly during the growing season due to rainfall and irrigation volume effects on leachate were most evident during the third, eighth, and ninth biweekly leachate collections, during which there was minimal or no rainfall. For these collections the control treatment of 66 mL resulted in minimal leachate (less than 130 mL over the 2-week leachate collection period), whereas leachate volume increased with increasing irrigation volumes. Pore water electrical conductivity (EC), leachate EC, NO3-N content, and PO4-P content were all highest with the 100% fertilizer rate, with the 66 mL irrigation treatment having the highest leachate EC for all fertilizer treatments. Cumulative leachate volumes for the 66 and 100 mL irrigation treatments were unaffected by fertilizer rate, whereas the 132 and 165 mL had greater leaching at the 25% fertilizer rate. Lower irrigation volumes resulted in reduced water and nutrient leaching and higher leachate EC. The higher leachate EC was the result of higher concentration of nutrients in less volume of leachate. The results of this study suggest that a combination of reduced fertilizer rates (up to 50%) and more efficient irrigation can be used to produce salable plants with reduced leaching and thus less environmental impact.

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Sustainable use of water resources is of increasing importance in container plant production as a result of decreasing water availability and an increasing number of laws and regulations regarding nursery runoff. Soil moisture sensor-controlled, automated irrigation can be used to irrigate when substrate volumetric water content (θ) drops below a threshold, improving irrigation efficiency by applying water only as needed. We compared growth of two Gardenia jasminoides cultivars, slow-growing and challenging ‘Radicans’ and easier, fast-growing ‘August Beauty’, at various θ thresholds. Our objective was to determine how irrigation can be applied more efficiently without negatively affecting plant quality, allowing for cultivar-specific guidelines. Soil moisture sensor-controlled, automated irrigation was used to maintain θ thresholds of 0.20, 0.30, 0.40, or 0.50 m3·m−3. Growth of both cultivars was related to θ threshold, and patterns of growth were similar in both Watkinsville and Tifton, GA. High mortality was observed at the 0.20-m3·m−3 threshold with poor root establishment resulting from the low irrigation volume. Height, width, shoot dry weight, root dry weight, and leaf size were greater for the 0.40 and 0.50 m3·m−3 than the 0.20 and 0.30-m3·m−3 θ thresholds. Irrigation volume increased with increasing θ thresholds for both cultivars. For ‘August Beauty’, cumulative irrigation volume ranged from 0.96 to 63.21 L/plant in Tifton and 1.89 to 87.9 L/plant in Watkinsville. For ‘Radicans’, cumulative irrigation volume ranged from 1.32 to 126 L/plant in Tifton and from 1.38 to 261 L/plant in Watkinsville. There was a large irrigation volume difference between the 0.40 and 0.50-m3·m−3 θ thresholds with little additional growth, suggesting that the additional irrigation applied led to overirrigation and leaching. Bud and flower number of ‘Radicans’ were greatest for the 0.40-m3·m−3 θ threshold, indicating that overirrigation can reduce flowering. The results of this study show that growth of the different G. jasminoides cultivars responded similarly to θ threshold at both locations. Similarities in growth and differences in irrigation volume at the 0.40 and 0.50-m3·m−3 θ thresholds show that more efficient irrigation can be used without negatively impacting growth.

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