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Tzu-Fang Yeh and Li-Chun Huang

Studying the value of consumption is believed to have diagnostic value in the analysis of consumer choice behavior and, therefore, is helpful in improving the efficiency of the market. The objective of this study was to identify the consumption value that consumers seek from floral products, while also clarifying the context of that consumption value. A total of 644 valid questionnaires from a consumer survey were used for the statistical analysis. The statistical results of the factor analysis revealed that sensory hedonics, emotion conditioning, curiosity fulfillment, monetary worth, and showing care to others were the main types of the consumption value in relation to floral products. Different consumer groups were found to emphasize different types of floral consumption value. Female consumers reveal a stronger demand for the value of emotion conditioning and curiosity fulfillment, while male consumers are more likely to seek the value of sensory hedonics. Consumers in rural areas reveal a stronger demand for the value of curiosity fulfillment and monetary worth, while the consumers in urban areas reveal a stronger demand for the value of emotion conditioning, with regard to the consumption value of flowers. The study results provide florists with the key value points as they seek to increase the attraction of floral products to consumers.

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Li-Chun Huang and Tzu-Fang Yeh

Consumption values are theoretically believed to be the antecedents of the outcomes of consumer purchase choice. In the floral market, even though the context of floral consumption values has been explored, the relationship between floral consumption values and consumer's purchase choice regarding floral products remains unknown. This study, however, seeks to address this deficiency by attempting to evaluate the differences in floral consumption values across consumer groups that have different purchase choices for floral products. After collecting data from a consumer survey, which yielded 615 valid questionnaires, the statistical results indicated that consumers who revealed different purchase choices in regard to flowers had different floral consumption values. In descending order, showing care to others, emotion conditioning, and sensory hedonics were the floral consumption values most strongly recognized by the majority of the consumers. However, heavy users of flowers revealed different characteristics in that they more strongly recognized the psychological value of emotion conditioning rather than the social value of showing care to others. The main difference across consumer groups that had purchased flowers with different frequencies or that preferred to buy different types of flowers had to do with the epistemic value (i.e., curiosity fulfillment). The results of this study imply that consumers who have different choice behavior toward flowers possess different evaluative judgments in regard to floral products. Such differences not only lead consumers to have different purchase choices in regard to flowers, but are also very likely to influence the consumer's behavior in regard to information search and variety seeking in the floral market, which in turn, impacts the effectiveness of commercial communication in the floral market.

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Shisheng Li, Qiufang Xiong, Jingcai Li, Yuanping Fang, and Jun Xiang

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Lijuan Xie, Deying Li, Wenjuan Fang, and Kirk Howatt

Selective control of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) is desirable when it has escaped into other turfgrasses. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence on creeping bentgrass control from adding urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) to mesotrione plus non-ionic surfactant (NIS) spray solution, and raking to remove dead tissues of creeping bentgrass. A 2-year field study was conducted with a split-plot design, where raking was the whole plot treatment and herbicide was the sub-plot treatment. Herbicide treatments included application of mesotrione at 56 and 70 g·ha−1 singly and sequentially with 0.25% (v/v) NIS or 0.25% (v/v) NIS plus 2.5% (v/v) UAN solution. Sequential applications were made three times on a 2-week interval. Removing the dead clippings by raking improved the creeping bentgrass control from 60% to 73% averaged over rates, timings, adjuvants, and years. Adding UAN to NIS plus mesotrione improved creeping bentgrass control from 78% to 98% with three sequential applications at 70 g·ha−1.

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Yang Fang, Jeffrey Williamson, Rebecca Darnell, Yuncong Li, and Guodong Liu

Southern highbush blueberry (SHB, Vaccinium corymbosum L. interspecific hybrid) is the major species planted in Florida because of the low-chilling requirement and early ripening. The growth pattern and nitrogen (N) demand of SHB may differ from those of northern highbush blueberry (NHB, V. corymbosum L.). Thus, the effect of plant growth stage on N uptake and allocation was studied with containerized 1-year-old SHB grown in pine-bark amended soil. Five ‘Emerald’ plants were each treated with 6 g 10% 15N labeled (NH4)2SO4 at each of 12 dates over 2 years. In the first year, plants were treated once in late winter, four times during the growing season, and once in the fall. In the second year, treatment dates were based on phenological stages. After a 14-day chase period following each 15N treatment, plants were destructively harvested for dry weight (DW) measurements, atom% of 15N, and N content of each of the plant tissues. Total DW increased continuously from mid-May 2015 to Oct. 2015 and from Mar. 2016 to late Sept. 2016. From August to October of both years, external N demand was the greatest and plants absorbed more N during the 2-week chase period, about 0.53 g/plant in year 1 and 0.67 g/plant in year 2, than in chase periods earlier in the season. During March and April, N uptake was as low as 0.03 g/plant/2 weeks in year 1 and 0.21 g/plant/2 weeks in year 2. Nitrogen allocation to each of the tissues varied throughout the season. About half of the N derived from the applied fertilizer was allocated to leaves at all labeling times except the early bloom stage in 2016. These results suggest that young SHB plants absorb greater amounts of N during summer and early fall than in spring.

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Jiao Chen, De-bao Yuan, Chao-zheng Wang, Yi-xing Li, Fen-fang Li, Ke-qian Hong, and Wang-jin Lu

Many reports indicate that an abundance of really interesting new gene (RING) play key roles in regulating defense responses against abiotic and biotic stresses in plants. In this study, the cloning and functional characterization of a RING gene, MaRING2, in banana (Musa acuminata) fruit are reported. MaRING2 belongs to the NEP1-interacting protein (NIP) RING-H2 finger protein family. Gene expression profiles revealed that MaRING2 was cold responsive and induced by abscisic acid (ABA) treatment during cold storage. In this study, the MaRING2 under control of the Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S (CaMV 35S) promoter was transformed to tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) using agrobacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens)-mediated transformation. The resultant MaRING2-overexpressing transgenic plants (35S:MaRING2) exhibited significantly increased tolerance to low temperatures and were hypersensitive to exogenous ABA in terms of germination and early seedling growth. In addition, overexpression of MaRING2 enhanced the expression of stress-responsive genes under normal (before cold stress) or cold conditions. These results demonstrate the biological role of MaRING2 in conferring cold tolerance. Taken together, these results suggest that MaRING2, a C3H2C3-type RING protein, is a positive regulator of the ABA-dependent stress response.

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Ting Min, Li-Fang Niu, Jun Xie, Yang Yi, Li-mei Wang, You-wei Ai, and Hong-xun Wang

NAC transcription factors have been characterized in numerous plants, and the NAC gene has been shown to be involved not only in plant growth and development, but also in plant responses to abiotic and biological stresses, such as drought, high salinity, low temperature, and anaerobic/hypoxic stress. Creating an environment of anaerobic/hypoxic stress has been shown to be one of the effective storage methods for delaying the browning of fresh-cut lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) root. However, whether NAC is associated with lotus root browning under anaerobic stress has not been studied. In this study, vacuum packaging (VP; anaerobic/hypoxic stress) effectively delayed the browning of fresh-cut lotus root. The changes in the expressions of NnPAL1, NnPPOA, and NnPOD2/3 were consistent with phenylalanine aminolase, polyphenol oxidase (PPO), and peroxidase (POD) enzyme activity changes and lotus root browning. Using RNA sequencing, five NnNAC genes were isolated and studied. Transcriptional analysis indicates that the NnNAC genes showed different responses to VP. The expressions of NnNAC1/4 were inhibited by VP, which was consistent with the observed change in the degree of fresh-cut lotus root browning. However, NnNAC2 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were upregulated, and the expressions of NnNAC3/5 showed no clear differences under different packaging scenarios. Thus, NnNAC1/4 were identified as promising candidates for further transcriptional regulation analysis in lotus root to understand more fully the molecular mechanism of browning under anaerobic/anoxic stress.

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Mengyang Liu, Yin Lu, Shan Wang, Fang Wu, Jingrui Li, Yanhua Wang, Jianjun Zhao, and Shuxing Shen

Leaf color mutants play an important role in our understanding of chlorophyll biosynthesis and catabolism. In this study, we obtained a yellow-green leaf mutant hy in an ethyl methanesulfonate mutagenized population of chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis). The hy phenotype was controlled by a recessive allele at a single locus. The intrinsic photochemical activity of photosystem II (PSII) is impaired in hy, suggesting that absorbed light energy is not efficiently transferred from the light-harvesting complexes antenna to the PSII reaction centers and dissipated as heat or fluorescence. We measured chlorophyll content and chlorophyll precursors and analyzed the expression of key genes in the chlorophyll synthetic pathway in hy and wild type. The mutation phenotype was consistent with inhibited expression of chlorophyll a oxygenase (CAO) gene in the chlorophyll synthetic pathway. In mutant hy, CAO cDNA was cloned so that a C to T mutation at 1099 bp caused a conserved proline (Pro) to serine (Ser) mutation at the 367th amino acid in C-domain, which changed the secondary structure of CAO protein. We speculate that the mutation amino acid changed in the C-domain may affect the catalytic function in mutant CAO.

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Ren-jun Feng, Li-li Zhang, Jing-yi Wang, Jin-mei Luo, Ming Peng, Jun-feng Qi, Yin-don Zhang, and Li-fang Lu

Cold stress is one of the most important environmental factors affecting crop growth and agricultural production. Induced changes of gene expression and metabolism are critical for plants responding and acclimating to cold stress. Banana (Musa sp.) is one of the most important food crops in the tropical and subtropical countries of the world. Banana, which originated from tropical regions, is sensitive to cold, which can result in serious losses in commercial banana production. To investigate the response of the banana to cold stress conditions, changes in protein expression were analyzed using a comparative proteomics approach. ‘Brazil’ banana (Musa acuminata AAA group) is a common banana cultivar in southern China. ‘Brazil’ banana plantlets were exposed to 5 °C for 24 hours and then total crude protein was extracted from treatment and control leaves by phenol extraction, separated with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and subsequently identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Out of the more than 400 protein spots reproducibly detected, only 41 protein spots exhibited a change in intensity by at least 2-fold, with 26 proteins increasing and 15 proteins decreasing expression. Of these, 28 differentially expressed proteins were identified by MS. The identified proteins, including well-known and novel cold-responsive proteins, are involved in several cellular processes, including antioxidation and antipathogen, photosynthesis, chaperones, protein synthesis, signal transduction, energy metabolism, and other cellular functions. Proteins related to antioxidation, pathogen resistance, molecular chaperones, and energy metabolism were up-regulated, and proteins related to ethylene synthesis, protein synthesis, and epigenetic modification were down-regulated in response to cold temperature treatment. The banana plantlets incubated at cold temperatures demonstrated major changes in increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging, defense against diseases, and energy supply. Increased antioxidation capability in banana was also discovered in plantain, which has greater cold tolerance than banana in response to cold stress conditions. Therefore, we hypothesized that an increased antioxidation ability could be a common characteristic of banana and plantain in response to cold stress conditions. These findings may provide a better understanding of the physiological processes of banana in response to cold stress conditions.

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Jian-rong Feng, Wan-peng Xi, Wen-hui Li, Hai-nan Liu, Xiao-fang Liu, and Xiao-yan Lu

The characterization of aroma of the 14 main apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) cultivars in Xinjiang was evaluated using high-performance solid-phase microextraction (HP-SPME) with gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS). A total of 208 volatiles that include 80 esters, 25 aldehydes, 15 terpenes, 21 ketones, 39 alcohols, 27 olefins, and 1 acid were identified from these cultivars. The compounds propyl acetate, 3-methyl-1-butanol acetate, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol acetate, d-limonene, β-linalool, hexanal, hexyl acetate, butyl acetate, β-myrcene, ethyl butanoate, and β-cis-ocimene were the major compounds responsible for aroma in these cultivars. GC-MS results showed that Kuchexiaobaixing, Guoxiyuluke, and seven other cultivars were characterized by a high level of esters and were considered to be fruity apricot aroma. ‘Luotuohuang’ and ‘Heiyexing’ accumulate high levels of terpenes and exhibited an outstanding floral aroma. Higher levels of alcohols and aldehydes were observed in ‘Danxing’, ‘Sumaiti’, and ‘Kumaiti’. The latter are considered green aroma cultivars. These three types of cultivars with different aroma characteristics can be significantly differentiated by using the principal component analysis (PCA) method. The contributions of volatiles to the apricot aroma were assessed by using the partial least squares regression (PLSR) model. Esters, terpenes, and C6 components were shown to be responsible for the fruity, floral, and green character of fresh apricots, respectively.