White rust (causative pathogen Puccinia horiana) is a destructive disease of commercial chrysanthemum crops. A panel of 19 accessions of commercial chrysanthemum near-relatives (four Ajania species, 11 Chrysanthemum species including five accessions of Chrysanthemum indicum) were screened for their reaction to white rust infection in separate greenhouse trials carried out at two independent sites in eastern China, one in 2010 and the other in 2012. The reaction of the accessions to artificial inoculation ranged from immune to highly susceptible. Accessions of Chrysanthemum indicum, C. yoshinaganthum, C. makinoi var. wakasaense, C. nankingense, C. vestitum, C. lavandulifolium, C. crassum, and Ajania tripinnatisecta were immune, and strong resistance was present in C. japonense, C. × shimotomaii, and A. przewalskii. Most of the accessions behaved similarly in the two trials, but two of the C. indicum accessions produced inconsistent results, each being highly resistant in one trial but susceptible in the other. Because wide crosses are relatively easy to achieve in the chrysanthemum complex, these immune and highly resistant accessions represent promising germplasm for white rust resistance breeding.
The response to reduced light intensity of two contrasting cultivars Puma Sunny (shade intolerant) and Gongzi (shade tolerant) was characterized in terms of plant height, the root/shoot ratio, photosynthetic capacity, and the morphology and ultrastructure of their chloroplasts and phloem companion cells. The initial response to shading of cultivar Puma Sunny plants was to extend their stems, and while the equivalent response of cultivar Gongzi was less marked. Shading depressed the maximum relative electron transport rate (rETR) in both cultivars, and while the efficiency of light capture in cultivar Puma Sunny was compromised by shading, this was not the case for cultivar Gongzi. Low levels of incident light inhibited the formation of starch grains in the chloroplast and increased the volume of interspace between the grana lamellae. In cultivar Puma Sunny, but less so in cultivar Gongzi, the chloroplasts became more slender and the stroma lamellae more swollen. Adjusting chloroplast morphology by developing extra layers of grana lamellae and maintaining the integrity of the phloem companion cells are both adaptations which help make ‘Gongzi’ a more shade-tolerant cultivar.