Two methods of evaluating seedling drought resistance in Vaccinium (blueberry) spp. were examined. Twenty interspecific populations were greenhouse-grown and either matric-stressed in a dry 1 sand : 1 soil medium or osmotic-stressed in a nutrient solution containing polyethylene glycol (PEG). In both tests, population means were separated statistically by shoot damage ratings. The correlation (r = 0.46) between the two tests was positive and significant. Progenies of clones JU64 and JU62, which are sister seedlings (V. myrsinites Lamark × V. angustifolum Aiton), were the most drought-resistant. The soil screening test appeared more accurate because it grouped populations with common parentage. These tests indicated that the progenies differ in genetic capacity to resist drought.
The attraction of zoospores of Phytophthora cinnamomi Rands to roots of three cultivars of rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade), two species hybrid cultivars of highbush blueberry, and one tetraploid species hybrid selection (US 109) was compared. Zoospores were attracted to the roots of all plants tested. Roots of highbush cultivars ‘Bluetta’ and ‘Patriot’ attracted more zoospores than the rabbiteye cultivars. The number of zoospores attracted to roots of US 109 was greater than the number attracted to the three rabbiteye cultivars, but less than the highbush cultivars. Increased zoospore attraction appeared to be related to root rot susceptibility in blueberries.
Lignin composition in leaf, fruit, and fruit outer epidermis of transgenic tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) plants that overproduce the enzyme tobacco anionic peroxidase (TobAnPOD) was analyzed. This enzyme may catalyze the polymerization of cinnamyl alcohols into lignin in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.); therefore, we predicted that its presence in the transformed tissue would increase lignin levels in healthy and wounded tissue. Lignin levels in healthy plants increased by 20% in leaf, 49% in fruit, and 106% in fruit outer epidermal tissue. Mature-green fruit were aseptically wounded and incubated in darkness for up to 7 days. Soluble phenols in wounded transgenic fruit increased by more than 300% hut changed little in control fruit. As with soluble phenols, lignin content in wounded transformed fruit increased by more than 20-fold hut increased less than two-fold in control fruit. Transgenic seedlings overproducing TobAnPOD were screened for susceptibility to several pathogens, but resistance did not increase. Possible TobAnPOD roles in lignin biosynthesis, phenol metabolism, stress response, and disease resistance are discussed.