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  • Author or Editor: Claudio Cantini x
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An alternative method to managing olive (Olea europaea L.) orchards for oil production is described. Using the coppiced system, the orchard is divided into 10 plots and all trees in one plot are coppiced year 1, all trees in a second plot are coppiced year 2, etc. In this way, the olive orchard consists of 10 different-aged plots after 10 years. Then a new cycle is started by coppicing trees in plot 1 in year 11, those in plot 2 in year 12, and so on. Since hardly any pruning is done after coppicing, the main advantages of this innovative management method are to reduce labor costs and the need for skillful labor, without negative effects on fruit yield, oil yield, or alternate bearing. Pesticide application, weed control, and fertilization were performed according to standard commercial practice. As a result, this system is more convenient than other training systems used for olive trees, it is suitable for renewing old trees, and can be adopted under many cultural conditions. The coppiced management system is compatible with soils of low fertility and is sustainable for long-term olive oil production.

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Microsatellite markers were used to characterize the accessions in the Tuscan olive (Olea europaea L.) germplasm collection. One hundred fifty-four genotypes were considered for genetic fingerprinting using 12 pairs of microsatellite primers. Investigation was focused on genotypes with similar morphologies and clones of the same cultivar from different agroecological areas within Tuscany. All 12 primer pairs produced microsatellite fragments for all the accessions amplifying from three to 10 alleles with a mean of 5.7 alleles/locus. The discovery of 30 synonyms and several misnames set the final number of genotypes representing the whole germplasm collection at 79. For Frantoio, Leccino, and Pendolino, no intracultivar diversity was found, although Leccino was known to have morphological distinction. Heterozygosity levels for the loci ranged from 0.287 to 0.722 with a mean value of 0.524. Some accessions presenting small differences in fingerprinting with similarity index greater than 0.87 were morphologically indistinguishable. The study demonstrates that for the management of the olive germplasm collection, it is necessary to use the morphological information in addition to the fingerprint when dealing with accessions presenting a microsatellite profile with high similarity index; otherwise, the risk is to overestimate the diversity among cultivars or presumed cultivars and to underestimate the one diversity already present within the cultivars.

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A preliminary understanding of developmental processes among divergent species is essential to evaluate the applicability of information from model species to plants of agricultural importance. In tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), where the molecular biology associated with fruit ripening has been studied most extensively, tissue softening is due at least in part to the activity of proteins called expansins, in concert with enzymatic activities that modify the pectin and xyloglucan components of the cell wall. We evaluated the potential for the concerted action of expansins and other cell wall-modifying enzymes during ripening in a highly divergent fruit species, sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.). We identified a family of four expansin genes that was strongly upregulated at the advent of ripening. Activation of these genes was accompanied by strong upregulation of gene(s) encoding potential pectin methylesterases, pectate lyase(s), and xyloglucan endotransglycosylase(s). Initiation of ripening and gene induction were also associated with a rapid decrease in cell wall weight. These results suggest that expansin and several other distinct activities could be involved in ripening-associated cell wall modification in cherries.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) tetraploid cherry (Prunus L. sp.) collection at Geneva, N.Y., contains ≈75 accessions of sour cherry (P. cerasus L.), ground cherry (P. fruticosa Pall.), and their hybrids. Accurate and unambiguous identification of these accessions is essential for germplasm preservation and use. Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) are currently the markers of choice for germplasm fingerprinting because they characteristically display high levels of polymorphism. Recently SSR primer pairs from sweet cherry (P. avium L.), sour cherry, and peach [(P. persica L. Batsch (Peach Group)] have been reported. Ten SSR primer pairs were tested on 59 tetraploid cherry accessions to determine if they could differentiate among the accessions. Scorable SSR fragments were produced with all primer-accession combinations. The cherry accessions exhibited high levels of polymorphism with 4 to 16 different putative alleles amplified per primer pair. Most of the putative alleles were rare with frequencies <0.05. Heterozygosity values ranged from 0.679 to 1.00, while gene diversity values ranged from 0.655 to 0.906. The primer pairs differentiated all but two of the 59 cherry accessions. Based upon the ability of the SSR data to differentiate the cherry accessions and the high level of gene diversity, we propose that all the tetraploid cherry accessions in the USDA/ARS collection be fingerprinted to provide a mechanism to verify the identity of the individual accessions. The fingerprinting data are available on the World Wide Web (http://www.ars-grin.gov/gen/cherry.html) so that other curators and scientists working with cherry can verify identities and novel types in their collections and contribute to a global database.

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