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Chih-Cheng T. Chao

A pollination study was conducted using `Nules', `Fina Sodea', `Marisol', `Fina' Clementine, `Afourer', `Tahoe Gold', and `Gold Nugget' mandarin. The fruit sets from selfing of `Fina', `Marisol', `Fina Sodea', `Nules' Clementines and `Afourer' mandarin were very low or near 0. The open pollinated Clementines had very low fruit set and there were very few seeds per fruit. Fruit set was highest (20% to 40%) in cross-pollination between two Clementines, `Nules' and `Fina Sodea', and `Afourer' mandarin and their reciprocal crosses. There were averaged 23 to 32 seeds per fruit in Clementines × `Afourer' mandarin crosses and averaged 5 to 12 seeds per fruit in `Afourer' mandarin × Clementines crosses. Compatibility among Clementine mandarins and `Afourer' mandarin is very high and caution should be taken to properly isolate these two types of mandarins when planting to produce seedless fruit. The diploid `Nules' Clementine × triploid `Tahoe Gold' mandarin gave 14% and 17% fruit sets in 2002 and 2003, with an average 2 seeds and 9 seeds per fruit in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Caution should also be taken when planting triploid seedless `Tahoe Gold' mandarin near diploid `Nules' Clementine to avoid seeds. The compatibilities and seediness between diploid mandarin cultivars and new seedless triploid mandarin cultivars need to be tested to ensure the pollen of the new triploid cultivars will not cause seeds in the existing diploid cultivars.

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Jinggui Fang and Chih Cheng T. Chao

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are endogenous tiny RNAs (about 22 nucleotides in length) that can play important regulatory roles in plants and animals by targeting mRNAs for cleavage or involved in translational suppression. Based on the sequence conservation of many miRNA genes in different plant genomes, it is possible to identify miRNAs in citrus. Identification of miRNA is the prerequisite for understanding the miRNA function in citrus. Citrus is an important fruit crop in the world and the publicly available citrus EST databases are increasing. Thirty known miRNAs from Arabidopsis were used to search the citrus EST databases for miRNA precursors. Nine possible citrus miRNA sequences were predicted to have fold-back structures. The Northern results indicated most of the 26 Arabidopsis miRNAs are expressed ubiquitously in the leaf, young shoot, flower, and root tissues of Nules Clementine mandarin (Citrus clementina Hort. Ex Tan.) and Trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata [L.] Raf.). Some miRNAs accumulated preferentially in different tissues.

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Boyang R. Cao and Chih-Cheng T. Chao

Polymorphisms of 21 date cultivars (Phoenix dactylifera L.) in California were determined by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis with near infrared fluorescence labeled primers. Four primer sets were used to detect polymorphisms. Based on the UPGMA-cluster analysis of 328 polymorphic bands, the majority of the cultivars was separated into two major groups. Cultivars Abada, Amir Hajj, Ashrasi, Bentamoda, Boyer No. 11, Deglet Beida, Horra, Javis No. 1, Khadrawy, and Thoory belonged to group I. Cultivars Badrayah, Dayri, Halawy, Haziz, Khir, Medjool, Sayer, and Zahidi belonged to group II. Cultivars Barhee and Deglet Noor were further separated from groups I and II. `Hayany' was distinct from all other date cultivars tested. These results demonstrated that AFLP markers could efficiently identify individual date cultivars. The information will be useful for future date germplasm collection and facilitated selection of diverse parents for cross hybridization in a breeding program.

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Ed Stover, William Castle and Chih-Cheng T. Chao

The world market for citrus (Citrus spp.) products has undergone dramatic shifts over the last decade. These shifts are influencing development and planting of new citrus cultivars. Seedlessness and very easy peeling have become paramount in mandarin types (C. reticulata and hybrids), and new cultivars are being developed through plant breeding and selection of new sports. In both sweet orange (C. sinensis) and grapefruit (C. paradisi), essentially all important cultivars are derived from a single original hybrid of each fruit type, and plant improvement has focused on selection of sports with redder color and extended maturity. The existence of many active citrus breeding programs makes it likely that we will continue to see evolution of new citrus cultivars over the foreseeable future.

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Chih-Cheng T. Chao, Dan E. Parfitt and Themis J. Michailides

Pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) progeny from the California cultivar improvement program were evaluated at two locations for their resistance to alternaria late blight [Alternaria alternata (Fries) Keissler] from 1995 to 1997. Large differences between seedlings were observed for disease resistance. Narrow sense heritabilities were calculated from half-sib analysis of 20 open pollinated families. Heritabilities of 0.48 and 0.11 at Kearney Agricultural Center were observed in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Narrow-sense heritability estimates were 0.56 and 0.54 at the Wolfskill Experimental Orchard near Davis for 1995 and 1997, respectively. Differences among progeny families to alternaria late blight infection were highly significant and were associated with the female parents. Greenhouse inoculation experiments were not strongly correlated with field results. Fifty-eight highly resistant seedlings were identified for use in future cultivar improvement efforts.

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Chih-Cheng T. Chao, Themis J. Michailides and Dan E. Parfitt

Alternaria late blight of pistachio caused by Alternaria alternata, has become a serious problem in pistachio orchards in California. As part of the California pistachio improvement program, we evaluated the resistance/susceptibility of the breeding progenies to Alternaria late blight at two locations. The heritability of resistance ranged from 0.35 to 0.38 based on half-sib progenies analysis. Open-pollinated (OP) progenies from three cultivars showed moderate to high resistance. Greenhouse inoculation confirmed that OP progenies of cultivars Bronte and Trabonella had the greatest resistance. OP progenies of cultivar Red Aleppo were highly susceptible in greenhouse inoculations compared to moderate resistance found in field evaluations. OP progenies of the only commercial cultivar Kerman in California were susceptible in both field and greenhouse evaluation. The results show the potential for development of resistant cultivars is available in the breeding population of the California pistachio improvement program.

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Chih-Cheng T. Chao, Dan E. Parfitt and Themis J. Michailides

Pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) progeny were evaluated at two locations in California for resistance to alternaria late blight caused by Alternaria alternata (Fries) Keissler in 1995 and 1997. Large differences in alternaria late blight infection among seedlings were observed. Narrow sense heritabilities based on half-sib analysis of 20 open pollinated families were 0.48 and 0.11 at Kearney Agricultural Center in 1995 and 1997, respectively, and 0.56 and 0.54 at the Wolfskill Experimental Orchard near Davis in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Differences among families to alternaria late blight infection were highly significant and associated with the female parents. Fifty-eight highly resistant seedlings were identified for future cultivar selection efforts.

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Chih-Cheng T. Chao, Jinggui Fang and Pachanoor S. Devanand

Production of seedless mandarins such as `Nules' clementine mandarin (Citrus clementina Hort. Ex Tan.) and `Afourer' mandarin [C. sinensis (L.) Osbeck × C. reticulata Blanco] is increasing in California as consumers' interest in seedless, easy peeling, and good tasting mandarins increases. The fruit would produce seeds if cross-pollination with compatible pollen source occurred. It is almost impossible to prevent cross-pollination between compatible mandarin cultivars by honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) within the multi-faceted agricultural environment in California. To produce seedless mandarin, growers either plant a single cultivar in a large solid block or try to use pollen-sterile navel oranges (C. sinensis) or satsuma mandarins (C. unshiu Marco.) as buffers to prevent cross-pollination. The question of how many rows of buffer trees or spacing can effectively prevent cross-pollination by honeybees between compatible mandarins is unclear. We initiated a study using fluorescent-labeled AFLP markers to determine the pollen parentages of `Nules' clementine seedlings and `Afourer' mandarin seedlings from two orchards in California. The longest distance of pollen flow at an orchard near Madera was 521 m. The pollen of `Minneola' tangelo (C. reticulata × C. paradisi Macf.) was able to disperse across a minimum of 92 rows of `Lane Late' navel oranges plus two rows of `Afourer' mandarins to pollinate `Afourer' mandarins. We also found that all the seedlings of `Nules' clementine mandarin at an orchard near Bakersfield had been pollinated by `Afourer' mandarin pollen. The pollen of `Afourer' mandarin was able to disperse up to distances between 837 and 960 m to pollinate `Nules' clementine. The pollen dispersal distance found in this study was at least 16 times longer than previously reported in a citrus orchard. Growers need to consider a much larger space or buffer rows to prevent cross-pollination and produce seedless mandarins in California.

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Jinggui Fang, Tal Twito, Zhen Zhang and Chih Cheng T. Chao

The genetic relationship among 50 fruiting-mei (Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc.) cultivars from China and Japan was investigated using 767 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and 103 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. The polymorphism among the cultivars was 69.77% based on EcoR I + Mse I AFLP primer pairs. The sequence alignment of 11 group sequences derived from 50 samples yielded 103 SNPs with a total length of 3683-bp genomic sequences. Among these SNPs, 73 were heterozygous in the loci of different cultivars. The SNP distribution were: 58% transition, 40% transversion, and 2% InDels. There was also one tri-nucleotide deletion. Both AFLP and SNP allowed the evaluation of genetic diversity of these 50 fruiting-mei cultivars; however, the two derived cladograms have some differences: 1) all the cultivars formed two sub-clusters (1A and 1B) within cladogram based on AFLP polymorphisms, and there were three sub-clusters (2A, 2B and 2C) formed in the cladogram based on SNP polymorphisms; and 2) most cultivars from G-F, Y-H-S regions and Japan are grouped in cluster 1A and 18 (78.26%) out of 23 cultivars from J-Z origin are grouped in cluster 1B in the cladogram generated based on AFLP polymorphisms. The results show cultivars from Japan are clustered within cultivars from China and supports the hypothesis that fruitingmei in Japan was introduced from China in the past. Cultivars from J-Z region of China have higher genetic similarities. Cultivars from G-F and Y-S-H regions have lower genetic similarities and suggest more germplasm exchanges in the past.

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Chih-Cheng T. Chao, Dan E. Parfitt, Louise Ferguson, Craig Kallsen and Joe Maranto

Trunk cross-sectional area from a population of 6192 pistachio trees was used to estimate tree growth from 1995 to 1997. The narrow-sense heritabilities of trunk cross-sectional area were near zero across multiple locations based on analyses of progenies from 20 half-sib families. However, within individual location, there were values from 0.20 to 0.56 for 1995, 1996, and 1997, respectively. Broad-sense heritability estimates were considerably higher, from 0.36 to 0.64 at multiple locations and 0.51 to 1.35 for individual locations. These results suggest that dominance and significant interaction effects, epistatic and genotype by environment, were important. Breeding strategies should emphasize selection of superior parents based on individual performance, and parents should be selected in the environment in which the progeny are intended to be used.