This study examined the interaction between a reflective particle film and water use efficiency (WUE) response of irrigated and non-irrigated apple trees (Malus ×domestica) over a wide range of environmental conditions. The objectives were to measure isotopic discrimination (Δ13C and δ18O), specific gas exchange, and WUE response of ‘Empire’ apple treated with a reflective particle film (PF), with and without supplemental irrigation, compared with an untreated control, with and without supplemental irrigation, over a range of leaf area indices (LAI), seasonal evapotranspiration (ETo), and vapor pressure deficits (VPD) to determine the mechanisms of action affecting WUE in apple. Short-term whole canopy gas exchange studies and isotope discrimination analysis were used to test the hypothesis that WUE was modified by the use of a PF. In whole canopy gas exchange studies, carbon assimilation (A) and transpiration tended to increase, and WUE and canopy conductance tended to decrease, with VPD within each LAI class from 2 to 6. For VPD > 1 kPa, the PF irrigated treatment consistently had the greatest WUE and other treatments were intermediate for LAI of 2 to 4. The PF irrigated and non-irrigated treatments had greater WUE than the control irrigated and non-irrigated treatments for VPD ≤ 2 kPa and there were no treatment effects for VPD > 2 kPa in the LAI range of 4 to 6. The PF non-irrigated was equivalent to the control non-irrigated treatment at VPD of 1 to 3 kPa, but was significantly lower at VPD of 3 to 4 kPa. PF irrigated and non-irrigated treatments had the greatest carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C), the control non-irrigated treatment had the lowest Δ13C, and the control-irrigated treatment was intermediate. Oxygen isotope enrichment (δ18O) was positively correlated with the mean growing season VPD and mean growing season evapotranspiration. Δ13C was significantly and positively correlated with δ18O. Seasonal WUE was negatively correlated with Δ13C and there was an interaction with LAI. The seasonal water use of apple is better evaluated with stable isotope discrimination integrating seasonal variation rather that the use of whole canopy gas exchange measurements that measure WUE for brief periods of time. Δ13C was an accurate measurement of apple WUE and indicated that the PF irrigated treatment had the greatest Δ13C and so the lowest WUE compared with the control non-irrigated treatment at LAI from 4 to 6. The reduced WUE of the PF irrigated treatment compared with the control non-irrigated treatment is likely due to increased g S from lower canopy temperature and increased canopy photosynthetically active radiation diffusion that drove increased A. δ18O was an indicator of seasonal water use over six growing seasons due to its high correlation with ETo. In ‘Empire’ apple, A can be increased with PF and irrigation treatments, but at the cost of decreased WUE.
D. Michael Glenn
Infrared and chlorophyll fluorescence imaging methods are useful techniques to evaluate environmental effects on plant performance. With the advent of digital imaging and advances in sensor technology, infrared (IR) thermography has become more accurate and less expensive. Modern IR cameras can resolve 0.5 °C temperature differences and research-grade instruments can resolve 0.05 °C. This precision has allowed the physical processes of freezing and transpiration to be more accurately studied and modeled. Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging, although still an expensive technology, has also become sufficiently rugged to be useful in the field. The measurement of quantum efficiency, Fv/Fm, provides clear data on the effect of various environmental and biotic effects on the performance of photosynthesis in plants through the effect on photosystem II. Modern digital cameras with low signal-to-noise ratios can also image chlorophyll fluorescence using time lapse exposure. Peltier-cooled charge coupled device (CCD) cameras can measure the autoluminescence in stressed plants that is generated by reactive oxygen species. Advances in technology have reduced the cost and precision of imaging equipment to a point that they are more applicable tools to plant scientists.
D. Michael Glenn
Kaolin-based particle films have use in reducing insect, heat, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and ultraviolet radiation stress in plants resulting from the reflective nature of the particles. Particle films with a residue density of 1 to 4 g·m−2 have been evaluated in a range of crops and agricultural environments. The particle film is a general insect repellant resulting from the change in the plant’s leaf/fruit texture but also because it changes the reflected light signature of the plant causing insect avoidance for many pests. The alteration of reflected light is the result of the ability of the particle film to reflect infrared (IR), PAR, and ultraviolet radiation. Reflection of IR can reduce canopy temperature as much as 5 °C, which will reduce potential transpiration. The reduction of PAR by the film at the leaf level is compensated in varying degrees by diffusion of PAR into the interior of the canopy. Whole canopy photosynthesis can be increased by the combined particle film effects of reduced canopy temperature and increased diffusion of PAR into the interior of the canopy. In apple, reducing fruit surface temperature, PAR, and ultraviolet is an effective means of reducing sunburn damage. The use of a reflective particle film is effective in mitigating environmental stress and has significant economic benefits in agricultural crops.
D. Michael Glenn
The minirhizotron approach for studying the dynamics of root systems is gaining acceptance; however, problems have arisen in the analysis of data. The purposes of this study were to determine if analysis of variance (ANOVA) was appropriate for root count data, and to evaluate transformation procedures to utilize ANOVA. In peach, apple, and strawberry root count data, the variance of treatment means was positively correlated with the mean, violating assumptions of ANOVA. A transformation based on Taylor's power law as a first approximation, followed by a trial and error approach, developed transformations that reduced the correlation of variance and mean.
Krista Shellie and D. Michael Glenn
We investigated how foliar application of kaolin particle film influenced diurnal leaf gas exchange, leaf water potential, yield, and berry maturity of a red (‘Merlot’) and white (‘Viognier’) wine grape (Vitis vinifera L.) cultivar under differing levels of water stress over two growing seasons (2005 and 2006) in the warm, semiarid climate of southwestern Idaho. Net diurnal stomatal conductance (g S) was increased by particle film and the effect varied according to vine water status. Particle film delayed the onset of diurnal decline in g S under mild water stress (leaf water potential ≈ –1.2 MPa) but had no influence on leaf gas exchange when vines were under greater water stress (leaf water potential ≈ –1.4 MPa). Correlation between soluble solids concentration and titratable acidity (‘Viognier’) and between berry fresh weight and yield (‘Merlot’) was higher with than without particle film, suggesting that particle film may attenuate the influence of other factors affecting expression of these traits. Particle film was associated with an increase in berry weight in ‘Merlot’ and with an increase in berry soluble solids concentration in ‘Viognier’, suggesting that the film may increase vine-carrying capacity. Midday leaf water potential throughout the growing season was not influenced by particle film. Fruit surface browning was observed on deficit-irrigated, particle film-treated vines on exposed clusters on the west side of the canopy, indicating that the film did not eliminate development of heat stress symptoms on fruit under the most extreme environmental conditions evaluated in this study.
D. Michael Glenn and Carole Bassett
Plant ash content has been highly correlated with plant water use efficiency (WUE) and Δ13C (Δ) in field crops and grassland species and proposed as a selection criteria for WUE. δ18O (δ) has also been correlated with transpiration in herbaceous plants. The objectives of the study were to 1) evaluate the relationship of shoot ash (ASH) with Δ and δ in ‘Empire’ apple over a 3-year period; 2) determine if yearly variation significantly affected the relationship of ASH with Δ and δ; and 3) evaluate the value of the relationship between ASH content with Δ and δ for a population of Malus sieversii. ‘Empire’ leaf area index (LAI) was negatively correlated with ASH content and positively correlated with Δ. Δ was negatively correlated with ‘Empire’ ASH. There were no yearly effects at a site. Within the Malus sieversii accessions, there was a grouping based on ASH that could be identified and this outlier group also had the lowest δ of the accessions. There were no correlations of leaf area, number, length, width, or stomata number with δ, Δ, or ASH for the Malus sieversii accessions. Rather than a substitute for Δ measurement in assessing WUE, ash content analysis adds an additional dimension to understanding the dynamics of WUE in apple. This work has identified a unique population of Malus meriting further study.
D. Michael Glenn and Michael J. Newell
Excessive vegetative growth in peach (Prunus persica) causes canopy shading that reduces fruit bud initiation in the canopy interior and increases pruning costs and time. Sod competition can reduce pruning but may also reduce yield. The objective of the present study was to measure the effects of increased sod competition [2- vs. 8-ft-wide vegetation-free areas (VFA)] on yield and quality of irrigated peach. Total pruning weight was reduced by sod competition in the first 4 of 7 cropping years. Subsequent years indicated no effect on vegetative growth due to sod competition. Annual increase in trunk cross-sectional area was reduced by sod competition in the first year of cropping and unaffected in subsequent years. Canopy development was reduced by sod competition in the first 2 years of cropping, which increased photosynthetically active radiation transmission through the canopy and increased fruit red color in the first year. The width of the VFA did not alter the relationship between total fruit number and total yield in any year; however, the total number of fruit per tree was reduced in all years and total yield was reduced in 6 of 7 years. Results suggest that dormant season pruning was removing a higher percentage of the crop bearing wood from the 2-ft VFA compared with the 8-ft VFA treatment, resulting in reduced yield per unit of dormant pruning. This indicates that pruning practices must be modified to leave more bearing wood in mature trees to maintain yield potential when sod competition is used to control vegetative growth.
Michael Wisniewski, D. Michael Glenn, Lawrence Gusta, and Michael P. Fuller
Factors that determine when and to what extent a plant will freeze are complex. Although thermocouples have served as the main method of monitoring the freezing process in plants, infrared (IR) thermography offers distinct advantages and the use of this latter technology has provided new insights on the processes of ice nucleation and propagation. This technology is based on the fact that freezing is an exothermic event. The temperature and spatial resolution of a high-resolution IR camera has enabled researchers to clearly define initial sites of nucleation as well as monitor the ice front as it spreads into surrounding tissues. Ice nucleation is induced by both extrinsic and intrinsic nucleators. Ice nucleation-active bacteria and moisture are two major extrinsic agents. In herbaceous plants, the influence of extrinsic ice nucleators on ice nucleation can be moderated by thick cuticles or the application of synthetic hydrophobic barriers. The situation in woody plants, however, is different. Woody plants appear to possess native, intrinsic nucleating agents that are as active as many extrinsic agents. However, the identity of the intrinsic nucleating agents in woody plants is not known. Despite the presence of intrinsic nucleating agents, barriers exist in woody plants that inhibit growth of ice from older stems into primary, lateral appendages. This is important because many tissues in woody plants that are frost-sensitive are flowers and primary, elongating shoot tissues that arise from buds attached to older stems. Pictures derived from video segments of the freezing process and data on the ability to block nucleation through the use of hydrophobic kaolin are provided.
Michael Wisniewski, D. Michael Glenn, and Michael P. Fuller
Extrinsic ice nucleating agents (such as ice-nucleation-active bacteria, dew, etc.) significantly limit the ability of herbaceous plants to supercool. It is believed that with an absence of these extrinsic nucleating agents, a plant could supercool to less than -4 °C. Other evidence, however, indicates that intrinsic nucleating agents may limit the extent of supercooling. Infrared video thermography was used to study freezing in young, `Rutgers' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) plants and to determine if a hydrophobic barrier on the plant surface could prevent extrinsic nucleating agents such as Ice+ bacterial strain (Cit7) of Pseudomonas syringae Van Hall from initiating freezing within a plant. Freezing tests were conducted in a programmable freezing chamber, a radiative frost chamber, and outdoors. Freezing was visualized and recorded on videotape using an infrared radiometer. Freezing of the plants was induced extrinsically by application of droplets (5 to 7 μL) of water containing Cit7. To provide a barrier to the action of extrinsic ice nucleating agents, an emulsion of hydrophobic kaolin (aluminum silicate mineral) was applied to the plant surface before application of an extrinsic nucleating agent. Results indicate that dry, young tomato plants can supercool to as low as -6 °C whereas plants having a single droplet of Cit7 would freeze at -1.5 to -2.5 °C. Application of the hydrophobic barrier blocked the effect of Cit7 and allowed whole plants to also supercool to -6 °C, despite the presence of frozen droplets on the leaf surface. When whole plants were sprayed with water and Cit7 using an aerosol sprayer and exposed to -3 °C, plants coated with the hydrophobic particle film exhibited significantly less foliar injury then nontreated plants. Similar results were obtained using the radiative frost chamber. Experiments conducted under natural frost conditions also resulted in less injury to the coated plants. The hydrophobic kaolin particle film performed better at preventing plants from freezing due to extrinsic ice nucleation than nonaltered, hydrophyllic kaolin alone or an antitranspirant with putative frost protection properties.
Carole L. Bassett and D. Michael Glenn
Reflective films are used in orchard management to improve fruit coloration. Numerous physiological studies on the effects of application of these films have been conducted, including variation of angles of light incidence and reflection, spectral determination of reflected light, and effects on photosynthesis and pigment development. At present there have been no studies on the effects of these treatments on gene expression, particularly with regard to genetic factors controlling light perception and genes targeted by specific regulators. We sampled a fully developed leaf from apple (Malus ×domestica) branches of mature trees in 2 consecutive years. The grass between the tree rows was left untreated, sprayed with a formulation of a reflective particle film (RPF), or covered with a single layer of an aluminized plastic film (APF). Leaves at the same branch position were sampled between 1000 and 1200 hr on sunny days. Nine different gene transcripts associated with light perception, sorbitol transport, and actin (control) were measured by semiquantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction and five by quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction. Transcript abundance of most genes was unaffected by treatment or slightly enhanced by RPF. These results are consistent with earlier observations indicating that application of this film stimulated carbon partitioning to the fruit likely through the reduced red/far-red ratio of reflected light. In contrast, the level of several gene transcripts, including MdPif3, MdPhyB, and MdSot3, was reduced by application of the APF. Only one gene, MdElip1A/B, was significantly and dramatically elevated by APF.