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  • Author or Editor: Ali Akbar Ghasemi Soloklui x
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Ali Akbar Ghasemi Soloklui, Ahmad Ershadi and Esmaeil Fallahi

Freezing injury is one of the most important limiting factors in commercial pomegranate production. The objectives of this study were to compare cold hardiness of seven Iranian pomegranate cultivars at three stages: November, January, and March, and to investigate the relationship between freezing tolerance and soluble carbohydrate and proline changes of shoots during acclimation and deacclimation. LT50 values, estimated by both electrolyte leakage measurement (EL LT50) and tetrazolium stain test (TST LT50), allowed us to discriminate between the cultivars in terms of freezing tolerance. Acclimation and deacclimation did not occur simultaneously in different cultivars, having a key role in cold tolerance of cultivars, especially in fall and late winter. Post Sefid Bafgh cultivar showed high cold tolerance early in fall, but it was susceptible to cold during winter. ‘Naderi’, ‘Yusef Khani’, ‘Malas Saveh’, and ‘Robab Neyriz’ had the highest midwinter cold hardiness; ‘Mahabadi’ showed an intermediate hardiness, whereas ‘Post Sefid Bafgh’ and ‘Shishe Kap’ were found to be cold-susceptible in this period. Freezing tolerance estimated by TST corresponded to those measured by the EL method in all cultivars, but in November and January, higher variation in freezing tolerance was observed among the cultivars through TST compared with EL measurement. However, LT50 values, estimated by EL measurement, were lower than those estimated through TST in November and March. Soluble carbohydrate concentrations of stem samples increased during cold acclimation from November to January; then it decreased in March. Proline had a narrow range of variation among the cultivars in November, but an increase in the amount of proline was observed during the period of hardening. In general, stronger correlations were observed between LT50 values and the amounts of soluble carbohydrates compared with proline, particularly from fall to midwinter.

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Ali Akbar Ghasemi Soloklui, Ali Gharaghani, Nnadozie Oraguzie and Armin Saed-Moucheshi

The development of cultivars with broader climatic adaptation has recently become the objective of most fruit breeding programmers. Regarding the importance of genetic control of cold hardiness as an influential characteristic for pomegranate and lacking studies in this area, the genetic control of cold hardiness in pomegranate using a partial mating scheme was studied. Five parents, including ‘Rabab Post Ghermez Neyriz’, ‘Malas Yazdi’, ‘Poost Sefid Dezful’, ‘Malas Pishva Varamin’, and ‘Poost Nazok Torosh Abarkuh’ with different cold hardiness capability were screened following a cold hardiness test in the laboratory and an evaluation of cold injury after natural freezing events in the field. The five screened cultivars were crossed in half-diallel crossing scheme with a total of 10 crosses in the Spring of 2014. Cold hardiness of the parent cultivars and the F1 progenies were investigated using the electrolyte leakage (EL) method. Results showed that both general combining ability (GCA) and specific combining ability (SCA) were statistically significant. The hardiest parent (‘Poost Nazok Torosh Abarkuh’) showed the largest positive GCA effect (1560.59) for winter survival, suggesting that this parent is capable to produce tolerant offspring with high breeding values in crossing programs. The significant SCA in this study suggests that specific crosses should be targeted to produce highly capable offspring. Cross between ‘Poost Nazok Torosh Abarkuh’ and ‘Malas Pishva Varamin’ showed high value for SCA (1661.74), indicating capability for production of tolerant offspring to the cold condition. Furthermore, high broad-sense heritability (0.70) and moderate narrow-sense heritability (0.45) for cold hardiness indicate that a reasonable progress could be made in improvement of this trait through conventional breeding.

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Ali Akbar Ghasemi Soloklui, Ali Gharaghani, Nnadozie Oraguzie, Saeid Eshghi and Mohammadreza Vazifeshenas

Chilling and heat requirements can affect agroclimatic distribution, growing season, and the marketing period of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) cultivars in commercial production. This study was carried out to determine the chilling and heat requirements of 20 Iranian pomegranate cultivars/accessions, and to also examine the correlation of these features with tree and fruit characteristics, as well as geographic and climatic parameters of the original environment the plant materials came from. One-year-old stem cuttings from mature trees were used for measurements of chilling and heat requirements. The results showed a range of variation in chilling requirement among cultivars from 233 to 633 hours and heat requirement from 4096 to 7928 growing degree hour (GDH). Based on chill hours accumulated, cultivars including Bihaste Ravar, Bihaste Sangan Khash, and Anar Siah were categorized as very low chill (233–266 hours), whereas cultivars Poost Nazok Torosh Abarkuh, Malas Yazdi, Jangali Poost Ghermez Roodbar, Rabab Poost Ghermez Neyriz, and Makhmal Malas Shahreza were grouped as low chill (600–633 hours). Variation in seed hardness from 15 to 78 N was also recorded. Chilling requirement showed a moderate correlation with stomatal density, seed hardness, and wind speed (r = 0.42, 0.44, and −0.39, respectively), whereas stomatal density showed correlations of r = −0.34 and −0.57 with altitude and wind speed, respectively. We suggest taking chilling and heat requirements into account when selecting individual’s cultivars and/or accessions suitable for cultivation in different agroclimatic regions.