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A. Smigocki and F. Hammerschlag

Immature `Redhaven' peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) embryos were infected with Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain tms328::Tn5 carrying the functional cytokinin gene. Shoots were regenerated from callus grown on MS medium without added phytohormones and subsequently rooted on half-strength MS medium with 2.8 -naphthaleneacetic acid. These plants exhibited an increased frequency of branching in vitro. Low levels of cytokinin gene transcripts were detected in these cells by Northern analysis, and using an ELISA assay, the cytokinins zeatin and zeatinriboside were determined to be on the average 30-fold higher. From these results, the expression of the cytokinin gene appears to promote growth of cells in the absence of phytohormones thus serving as a marker for transformation and a promoter of morphogenesis without a 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid inductive step.

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F.A. Hammerschlag

As part of a program to develop transgenic highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne) cultivars with increased levels of disease resistance, we have investigated the feasibility of introducing genes for the antimicrobial peptides cecropin B and MB39, α-thionin DB4 (DB4) and γ-thionin RsAFP1 (RsAFP1) by testing the effects of these peptides on several important pathogens of these two crop species. A thin-layer plate bioassay was conducted with these peptides and the pathogens Botrytis cinerea (Pers.ex. Fr.), Botryosphaeria dothidea (Mouq.ex. Fr.) Ces & de Not., Colletotrichum acutatum Simmonds, C. gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz.et Sacc., C. fragariae Brooks, Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi Reade (Honey), Phytophthora fragariae Hickman and Xanthomonas fragariae Kennedy and King. The minimum lethal concentration (μm) for cecropin ranged from 0.02 for X. fragariae strains 10 and 128 to 72.8 for C. gloeosporioides isolate Akp1. For DB4, the minimum inhibitory concentration (μm) ranged from 0.03 for X. fragariae strain 6 to 87.2 for B. cinerea isolate cc. For RsAFP1, the minimum inhibitory concentration (μm) ranged from 0.13 for X. fragariae strain 6 to 61.4 for M. vaccinii-corymbosi isolate 9423-x-45. These results indicate that introducing genes for either cecropin, DB4 or RsAFP1 into strawberry may be useful for controlling bacterial angular leaf spot disease caused by X. fragariae.

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F.A. Hammerschlag

A detached-leaf bioassay was used to evaluate peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] somaclone 122-1 (derived from callus produced on an immature embryo of peach cultivar Redhaven) for resistance to several virulent strains of Xanthomonas campestris pv. pruni [E.F. Sm.) Dows], causal agent of bacterial leaf spot, and to a virulent isolate of Pseudomonas syringae van Hall pv. syringae, causal agent of bacterial canker. The detached-leaf bioassay was also used to evaluate progeny of 122-1 for resistance to X. campestris pv. pruni virulent strain XP1. Somaclone 122-1 was significantly more resistant to most strains of X. campestris pv. pruni than was `Redhaven', and all of its progeny exhibited high levels of resistance to X. campestris pv. pruni strain XP1. Somaclone 122-1 exhibited significantly higher levels of resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae than did `Redhaven' and this resistance was retained over time in the greenhouse and following a 2-year cycle of tissue culture propagation.

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F.A. Hammerschlag

A detached-leaf bioassay was used to evaluate peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] regenerants derived from zygotic embryo callus cultures of cultivars Sunhigh (susceptible to leaf spot) and Redhaven (moderately resistant to leaf spot) for resistance to Xanthomonas campestris pv. pruni [(E.F. Sm.) Dews], the causal agent of bacterial leaf spot. Regenerants obtained from calli produced on two `Sunhigh' embryos, #61 and #156, and on three `Redhaven' embryos were evaluated. Sixty-four percent of the regenerants derived from `Sunhigh' embryo #156 and 13% of the regenerants derived from `Sunhigh' embryo #61 demonstrated significantly greater spot resistance than `Sunhigh'. Regenerants with resistance greater than `Redhaven' were also obtained from both `Sunhigh' embryos. The frequency of variation in the `Sunhigh' seedling population, with respect to the response to bacterial leaf spot, was not so great as that exhibited by the regenerants derived from `Sunhigh' embryo #156. None of the `Redhaven' seedlings or any of the regenerants derived from `Redhaven' embryos were more resistant than `Redhaven'. These studies suggest that the frequency of somaclonal variation is genetically determined and that screening for somaclonal variation may be a feasible approach to obtaining leaf spot-resistant peach plants.

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X. Cao and F.A. Hammerschlag

As part of a program to develop transgenic highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivars, studies were conducted to determine optimum conditions for high efficiency shoot regeneration from leaf explants of shoots propagated in vitro. The effects on shoot organogenesis of age of explant source, length of dark treatment, the addition of either thidiazuron (TDZ) at 1 or 5 μm, or zeatin riboside at 20 μm to the regeneration medium, and a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of either 18 ± 5 or 55 ± 5 μmol·m–2·s–1 were investigated. A maximum of 13.0, 13.0, 12.6, and 4.6 shoots regenerating per explant for cultivars Duke, Georgiagem, Sierra, and Jersey, respectively, occurred on regeneration medium with zeatin riboside and under a PPF of 55 ± 5 μmol·m–2·s–1. `Duke' regenerated equally well on medium with either zeatin riboside or 1 μm TDZ, whereas the number of shoots per explant for `Georgiagem' and `Sierra' was significantly higher on zeatin riboside. Regeneration of `Duke', `Jersey', and `Sierra' on zeatin riboside was significantly better under a PPF of 55 ± 5 μmol·m–2·s–1 than under 18 ± 5 μmol·m–2·s–1, but the higher PPF inhibited regeneration of `Duke' on 5 μm TDZ. There were no significant differences in percentage of regeneration or the number of shoots per explant from leaf explants derived from either 1-, 2-, or 3-week-old shoot cultures, or when either 1 week or 2 weeks of darkness preceded light treatments. Chemical names used: 1-phenyl-3-(1,2,3-thiadiazol-5-yl)urea (thidiazuron, TDZ); 9-(-β-ribofuranosyl)-6-(4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enylamino)purine (zeatin riboside).

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Xiaoling Cao and F.A. Hammerschlag

As part of a program to develop transgenic highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivars, studies were conducted to determine optimum conditions for high efficiency shoot regeneration from leaf explants of in vitro-propagated shoot cultures. The effect of either thidiazuron at 1 or 5 μM, or zeatin riboside at 20 μM, and two lit levels (18 ± 5 or 55 ± 5 μmol·m-2·s-1) on shoot organogenesis were investigated. With the exception of `Bluecrop', which did not regenerate shoots, maximum shoot regeneration of 13, 12.7, 12.6 and 4.6 shoots per explant for cultivars Duke, Georgiagem, Sierra, and Jersey, respectively, occured on regeneration medium with zeatin riboside and under a light intensity of 55 μmol·m-2·s-1. Whereas `Duke' regenerated equally well on regeneration medium with either zeatin riboside or 5 μM thidiazuron, regeneration frequencies for `Georgiagem' and `Sierra' were significantly higher on zeatin riboside. A light intensity of 55 μmol·m-2·s-1 significantly increased regeneration of cultivars Duke, Jersey, and Sierra on zeatin riboside, but inhibited regeneration of Duke on 5 μM thidazuron.

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F.A. Hammerschlag and R. Scorza

Four peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] scion cultivars, `Jerseyqueen', `Redskin', `Suncrest', and `Sunhigh', that were propagated by tissue culture techniques and by bud-grafting onto `Lovell' seedlings, were compared at Kearneysville, W.Va., and at Beltsville, Md. At Kearneysville, total fruit production was higher for tissue-cultured (TC) trees when compared with budded trees in the first 3 years of fruiting, whereas trunk diameter increases were generally larger for budded trees. In the following year, fruit production was similar for both TC and budded trees, although trunk diameter increases continued to be larger for budded trees. At Beltsville, fruit production was significantly higher for TC trees in 1987, the first fruiting season, but the same for both in the second season. Trunk diameter increases were larger for budded trees both years. Differences in tree growth and productivity in the early years of orchard establishment appeared to be related to the size of plants that were planted. Budded trees, which were smaller than TC trees at planting, increased in size faster than TC trees but were less productive. Crop efficiency was cultivar-specific, but differences among cultivars was less if trees were TC propagated. These results suggested that based on yield and growth, own-rooted TC trees should be an acceptable tree type for commercial orchards.

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F. A. Hammerschlag and A. C. Smigocki

Transgenic plants containing introduced phytohorm one genes have been shown to display altered growth and morphogenetic potential. Peach plants transformed with the ipt gene from Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain tms 328::T n5 and containing elevated levels of cytokinins were screened in vitro for compact growth habit on four different levels of 6-benzyladenine (BA). After nine weeks in vitro, the average number of axillary shoots per plant foe two of the transformants, 99-1 and 40-1, ranged from 1.5 to 6.6 times that for the controls on 0-30 uM of BA, whereas average fresh weight ranged from 1.1 to 3.6 times that for the controls. One of the transformants, 94-1, produced a greater number of axillary shoots only on 30 μM BA. Rooted plants derived through micropropagation from the original transformants were monitored for 30 months under greenhouse conditions. The average height of transformants 94-1 and 99-1 after six months in the greenhouee was 88 and 77% of controls, respectively and after 30 months was 90 and 75% of controls, respectively. In comparison to controls, transformants exhibited a greater number of branches per meter per plant after six weeks, but a lesser number after 30 months. These results suggest that the introduction of a cytokinin gene may be a useful approach to obtaining peach trees with a compact growth habit.

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F.A. Hammerschlag and A.C. Smigocki

Peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] plants #94-1, #99-1, and #40-1, carrying a cytokinin biosynthesis (ipt) gene following transformation with the shooty mutant strain of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, were evaluated for altered growth habit and axillary shoot formation, both in vitro and in the greenhouse. After 9 weeks of in vitro propagation on four different levels of 6-benzyladenine (BA), only transformant #99-1 exhibited significantly greater axillary shoot formation (on 10 μm BA), and significantly greater fresh mass (on 3,10, and 30 μm BA) than the control #RG-3. Tolerance to a supra-optimal (30 μm) concentration of BA was indicated by fresh mass increases for #99-1 shoot cultures. Delayed senescence on 0 μm BA was exhibited by 87% of the transformants, but by only 12% of the control plants. Greenhouse-grown #99-1 and #40-1 were significantly shorter than #RG-3 plants at 6 weeks and at 1 year, but only #40-1 exhibited significantly greater branching than the controls. Chemical names used: 6-benzyladenine (BA); isopentenyl transferase (ipt).

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F.A. Hammerschlag and R.N. Huettel

Five in vitro propagated peach scion cultivars (Suncrest, Rio Oso Gem, Compact Redhaven, Redhaven, Jerseyqueen) and two rootstock (Nemaguard and Lovell) were screened in vitro and in microplots for their susceptibility to the root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita. Evaluations in tissue culture for galling were conducted at 5 wk. Trees in microplots were evaluated for 3 years for nematode populations, trunk diameter, and yield. Comparative results indicated that the number and size of galls observed at 5 wk in vitro is indicative of the response of peaches to nematodes under field conditions after three years. Cultivar Compact Redhaven was significantly more tolerant to root-knot than `Lovell' the most widely used peach rootstock. These results suggest that Compact Redhaven might be potentially useful as a rootstock in the Southeast where Nemaguard is used sparingly because of its lack of cold tolerance. In addition, these results indicate that in vitro screening holds promise as a rapid technique for evaluating root-knot nematode resistance.