Cut flower productivity and quality of gentian is associated with growth and development of crown buds. Experiments were carried out with the gentian cultivar Showtime Diva to identify the response to treatments that break dormancy [cold temperature (chilling), gibberellic acid (GA3)] applied at different stages of development of crown buds (plants with nonemerged crown buds, shoots recently emerged, or shoots emerged and elongated). The comparative growth potential of crown buds within the cluster was also investigated. At the stages of development examined, the application of GA3 (100 ppm) increased emergence of crown buds as shoots, leading to development of more flowering shoots. A similar response was observed with exposure to cold, but only on plants with nonemerged crown buds. Shoot emergence increased in response to increased duration of cold from 0 to 42 days (5 °C). Both chilling and GA3 could potentially be used to reduce the duration to, and spread of, harvest maturity if applied before shoot emergence. The hierarchical relationship of buds in crown bud clusters led to differential responses to application of GA3. Buds ontogenetically positioned at the proximal end of the bud cluster took a similar duration to reach shoot emergence or harvest maturity. For buds located at the distal end there was a positive correlation between ontogenetic bud position and the duration to reach shoot maturity. Shoot length and number of nodes at harvest maturity showed slight negative correlations with the position of the bud in the bud cluster. The results provide an explanation for possible sources of the variation in quality and quantity of floral shoots, and spread in time to harvest maturity within a single plant, and with development stage.
We investigated the possibility of either exogenous ethylene or endogenous ethylene production having an association with the increase in shoot number when nodal explants of Gentiana spp. ‘Little Pinkie’ were cultured in an in vitro medium supplemented with ethephon (10 mg⋅L–1). For the first time within an in vitro system, we report the application of laser ethylene detector technology, and optimization of the methodology to quantify concentrations of ethylene (in the part-per-billion range) released from ethephon decomposition within the atmosphere of gas-exchangeable culture vessels including nodal explants. Compared with continuous (continuous measurements on the same replicate of vessels) and repeated (sampling same replicate of vessels every 48 hours) sampling methodologies, the nonrepeated (sampling fresh replicate of vessels every 48 hours) method of measurement of ethylene concentration was more representative of the actual condition within vessels. Although no prior published data exist showing the positive or negative effect of gaseous ethylene in the headspace of culture vessels on bud outgrowth in gentian, our study shows gaseous ethylene in the headspace of culture vessels was not effective in increasing shoot formation in gentian explants cultured in vitro, whereas ethephon supplementation in agar was effective. Plant material in culture vessels did not have a significant effect on ethylene production regardless of the presence or absence of ethephon. Therefore, although ethephon supplementation in the medium produced gaseous ethylene in the headspace, it was unlikely to cause endogenous ethylene production in explants, but it did trigger shoot formation in ‘Little Pinkie’, perhaps through decomposition to ethylene within the explant tissue, enhancing the internal ethylene level possibly at a locally high concentration.