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  • Author or Editor: Bruce W. Wood x
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While nickel (Ni) deficiency occurs in certain agricultural crops, little is known regarding the influence of deficiency on metabolic or physiological processes. We studied the influence of Ni deficiency on the reduced-nitrogen (N) composition of early spring xylem sap of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch]. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of sap composition found the presence of ureido-, amide-, and amino-N substances and that they are quantitatively influenced by tree Ni nutritional status. Ureido-N forms quantitatively dominated amide-N forms with respect to both molar concentration and the forms in which reduced N atoms are present; thus, pecan appears to be predominately a ureide-transporting species. The primary ureido-N substances in sap of Ni-sufficient trees are citrulline ≈ asparagine ≈ xanthine > ureidoglycolate > allantoic acid > allantoin ≈ uric acid ≈ urea. Asparagine is the primary amide-N form, while only traces of amino-N forms (e.g., tryptamine and β-phenylethylamine) are found in xylem sap. Nickel deficiency substantially increased citrulline and allantoic acid in xylem sap while decreasing the asparagine, xanthine, and β-phenylethylamine concentrations. These Ni-linked quantitative shifts in reduced-N forms indicate that Ni nutrition potentially affects intermediates of both the ureide catabolic pathway and the urea cycle as well as the nitrogen/carbon (N/C) economy of the tree. Xylem sap-associated urease-specific activity was also reduced as a consequence of Ni deficiency. These results indicate that Ni deficiency potentially disrupts normal N-cycling via disruption of ureide metabolism.

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Two shoot dieback maladies (SDM) of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] are of unknown cause and can adversely affect tree canopy health. They occur during either early spring (SpSDM) or early summer (SuSDM). Field studies found that both maladies predominantly occur on shoots retaining peduncles from the previous crop year's fruit cluster. Isolations of transition zone (from living to dead) tissue of symptomatic shoots, of 14 cultivars, found Phomopsis sp. in 89% or greater of samples and Botryosphaeria spp. in 40% or greater of sampled shoots. Isolations occasionally found some combination of eight other apparently saprobic fungal genera with individual genera typically present in 10% or less of symptomatic shoots but were always present in association with either Phomopsis sp. or Botryosphaeria spp. when shoots exhibited either SuSDM or SpSDM. The SpSDM form was associated with 10 cm or less of the shoot's length before budbreak in early March before expanding to 30 cm or greater by late June to produce the SuSDM form, thus, providing evidence for an ongoing and expanding infection common to both SDM forms. The incidence of both “Phomopsis-associated” SDM forms was greatest on trees likely exhibiting substantial stress, some of which was crop-associated. The consistent association of these two fungi with SDM indicates a role for one or both in its development; however, further pathogenicity research is needed to determine if they are the primary cause of these shoot dieback maladies and how they interact with stress factors. Linkage of Phomopsis sp., and possibly Botryosphaeria spp., to these two SDMs raises the possibility of significant canopy damage in prolific cultivars and emphasizes the importance of management practices that minimize stress in orchard trees.

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An assessment of vegetative traits of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] from a range-wide provenance collection indicated the existence of at least two distinct populations within the native range (i.e., provenances north of Texas vs. provenances in Texas and Mexico). Southern most provenances generally broke bud earlier, retained foliage later in the fall, grew larger in height and trunk diameter, had narrower leaflet droop angles, had greater leaflet tilt angles, wider limb angles, greater Zn deficiency, less black pecan aphid susceptibility, and less red coloration to foliage than did northern most provenances. Trees originating from Jaumaua, in northern Mexico, were especially noteworthy insomuch that they were by far the tallest, possessed the largest trunk diameters, the longest foliation period, and lowest Zn deficiency ratings of all provenances. One family within this Jaumaua population also exhibited a high level of cold hardiness. Family heritability (hf 2) estimates were ≥0.48 for trunk cross sectional area, date of budbreak, leaf redness, cold injury, leaflet droop angle, and leaflet tilt angle, and ≤0.39 for late season leaf fall, black pecan aphid susceptibility, zinc deficiency, and branch angle.

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Abstract

The high variability in physiologically different stages of leaves and susceptibility of pecan [Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] cultivars to the pecan scab [Cladosporium caryigenum (Ell. et Lang) Gottwald] fungus prompted an evaluation of phylloplane-associated substances (PASs) that influence fungal conidia germination. Germination of conidia was evaluated in several TLC fractions derived from water or dichloromethane leachates of the phylloplane of pecan leaves. Reciprocal tests of pecan scab conidia isolated from ‘Schley’ and ‘Stuart’ against phylloplane leachates from both ‘Schley’ and ‘Stuart’ were conducted. Several PASs proved to have either inhibitory, neutral, or promotive effects on conidia germination. 5-hydroxy-1,4-napthoquinone (juglone) was identified as one such substance and was observed to be a strong inhibitor of conidia germination, but had no effect on colony growth or sporulation. The susceptibility of pecan foliage to pecan scab appears to be partially dependent on phylloplane composition.

Open Access

The economic cost of pecan scab, caused by Fusicladium effusum G. Winter, can substantially limit profitability of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] cultivation in humid environments. Laboratory, greenhouse, and field studies found nickel (Ni) to inhibit growth of F. effusum and reduce disease severity on fruit and foliage of orchard trees. Nickel was toxic to the fungus in vitro at concentrations applied to orchard trees, and Ni sprays reduced scab severity on foliage of pecan seedlings in greenhouse experiments. Host genotype appears to influence Ni efficacy with fruit tissue of cultivars of intermediate resistance (i.e., ‘Desirable’) being most responsive to treatment and those most susceptible to scab (i.e., ‘Wichita’ and ‘Apache’) being least responsive. Addition of Ni as a nutritional supplement applied in combination with fungicides applied as air-blast sprays to commercial orchards reduced severity of scab on both leaves and fruit depending on cultivar and date of disease assessment (e.g., scab severity on fruit was reduced by 6% to 52% on ‘Desirable’ in an orchard setting). Nickel-supplemented fungicide sprays to ‘Desirable’ trees in commercial orchards also increased fruit weight and kernel filling, apparently from improved disease control. Although the efficacy of Ni was typically much less than that of triphenyltin hydroxide (TPTH), a standard fungicide used in commercial orchards, Ni treatment of tree canopies for increasing tree Ni nutrition slightly lowered disease severity. These studies establish that foliar Ni use in orchards potentially reduces severity of scab on foliage and fruit in scab-prone environments. The inclusion of Ni with fungicides for management of pecan scab might reduce disease severity over that conferred by fungicide alone, especially if targeted cultivars possess at least a moderate degree of scab resistance. Similar benefit from Ni sprays might also occur in host–fungi interactions involving other crops.

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The influence of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] leaflet bronzing, a discoloration of the lower surface, on foliar physiology and nut-meat yield is unknown. Field investigations indicate that bronzing can adversely affect foliage by reducing net photoassimilation (A), stomatal conductance (sgw ), and transpiration (E) while also altering stomatal aperture and cellular structure, and increasing temperature. Kernel weight and fill percentage are also reduced. Research indicated that foliar A declined in proportion to degree of bronze coloration, with negative A exhibited by heavily bronzed foliage. A by bronzed foliage did not increase as light levels exceeded ≈250 μmol·m-2·s-1. Within the same compound leaf, nonbronzed leaflets adjacent to bronzed leaflets exhibited greater than normal A. Bronzed leaflets also exhibited lower sgw to water vapor, less transpirational H2O loss, and higher afternoon leaf temperature. Light micrographs of bronzed foliage indicated abnormal epidermal and spongy mesophyll cells. Weight and percentage of kernel comprising the nut declined on shoots supporting foliage bronzing in July to August, but was unaffected when bronzing occurred in September to October. Bronzing of pecan foliage can therefore be of both physiological and economic significance.

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Staminate and pistillate flower maturity of 80 cultivars of young (<15 years old) pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees are presented. These patterns show that pollination and receptivity windows within the flowering season can be divided into very early, early, mid, late, and very late season protandrous (Type I) and protogynous (Type II) types. This system therefore provides a seasonally based 30-class Type I and Type II alternative to the standard two-class Type I and Type II system, thus offering enhanced resolution of flowering intervals and an improved means of selecting cultivars to ensure cross-pollination of yard and orchard trees. Scott-Knott cluster analysis of budbreak, nut ripening date, and date of autumn leaf drop segregated cultivars into one of several categories.

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