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  • Author or Editor: Fang-Yin Liu x
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Nitrogen (N) is a major element required for crop cultivation and an important factor affecting plant growth and development. Malabar chestnut (Pachira macrocarpa) is an important ornamental potted plant crop whose N requirement has been studied, and a rapid monitoring method to manage N fertilization during its commercial production is yet to be established. Malabar chestnut seedlings were fertilized weekly with 0, 4, 8, 16, or 24 mm N. After 12 weeks, 16 mm N was found to yield the greatest plant growth such as plant height, number of nodes, and total leaf area. Measurements of chlorophyll meter readings, leaf chlorophyll concentration, leaf N concentration, and leaf dry weight all indicated that the optimal level of N fertilization was 16 mm N. A chlorophyll meter can be used to monitor nondestructively whether sufficient N has been supplied to support optimal plant growth. In this study, a chlorophyll meter reading of 46.1 corresponded with a critical leaf N concentration of 2.65%, defined as the leaf N concentration when the leaf dry weight was at 90% of saturation point. Additional N supplied beyond this critical level increased foliar chlorophyll content and improved the rate of net photosynthesis. Therefore, chlorophyll meter readings, which are convenient and nondestructive can serve as a reliable reference for commercial production in monitoring N requirement for optimum growth of malabar chestnut. Weekly fertilization of malabar chestnut with 16 mm N and maintaining leaf chlorophyll meter readings between 46.1 and 58.4 are recommended.

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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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