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  • Author or Editor: Germán V. Sandoya x
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Verticillium wilt caused by Verticillium dahliae Kleb. is an economically damaging disease of iceberg lettuce on the Central Coast of California. Foliar wilting symptoms that manifest near or at peak market maturity (MM) lead to collapse of the head, making it unmarketable. Complete resistance to race 1 of the pathogen is known, but adequate levels of resistance are not available against race 2. Additional mechanisms or traits that reduce foliar symptoms (FS) are needed to lessen economic losses from this disease. Since the disease affects leaves, the harvested product, identification of iceberg cultivars that delay the onset of FS past peak MM could reduce yield loss from the disease. The goal of this research was to identify iceberg lettuce germplasm with delayed onset of FS. Diverse iceberg cultivars were evaluated in replicated field experiments for MM, FS severity, and adaptation. A few winter-adapted cultivars showed fewer FS past MM and seem to be promising candidates for breeding. These cultivars are not adapted to the California Central Coast where the disease currently predominates. Further studies will determine the usefulness of this trait for breeding improved cultivars for use in V. dahliae–infested fields. Developing new cultivars that combine currently available sources of partial resistance against race 2 with delayed onset of FS could lead to reduced crop losses should race 2 of V. dahliae become widespread.

Free access

Global warming poses serious threats and challenges to the production of leafy vegetables. Being a cool-season crop, lettuce is particularly vulnerable to heat stress. To adapt to climate change, this study was conducted to evaluate the performance of leaf lettuce genotypes for heat tolerance by growing them in different locations within California that differ in temperatures during the growing season. Fifteen green leaf and 21 red leaf lettuce genotypes were selected to evaluate their performance under these environments. These genotypes were planted in March and May in Five Points (San Joaquin Valley) and El Centro (Imperial Valley) and in June 2012 in Salinas (Salinas Valley). The results suggest that lettuce planting can be extended from January to March beyond the normal growing seasons in San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys, where yield may be higher than in the Salinas Valley. The further delay in planting date from March to May in Five Points and El Centro resulted in reduction of yield and an increase in susceptibility to bolting and heat-related disorders such as tipburn and leaf desiccation in most genotypes. The susceptibility to these disorders depends on the genotype and the temperature during lettuce growth and maturation. However, heat-tolerant leaf lettuce genotypes adapted to these regions were identified. Results of this research should be useful for the development of heat-tolerant lettuce cultivars and for extending the growing season in warmer but lower land cost areas to reduce production costs.

Free access

Pink rib discoloration or pinking in the midribs of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) leaves is a stress-induced disorder that leads to crop loss worldwide. Maintaining recommended field and postharvest conditions reduces its incidence but does not eliminate the issue. During the past decade, research has identified the tolerance of this disorder among lettuce types and cultivars grown in cooler climates. However, tolerance to pink rib among lettuce types grown in humid subtropical climates is unknown; therefore, it is necessary to screen lettuce germplasm under these growing conditions. During this study, diverse lettuce accessions were planted for early-season, mid-season, and late-season harvests over two seasons in Belle Glade, FL, USA. Harvested midribs were wounded to induce pink rib, stored for 6 to 9 days at 5 °C and >95% relative humidity, and rated for severity using a 5-point subjective scale. Genotype × environment interactions were evaluated to understand the environmental factors that favor the development of pink rib during storage and between planting seasons. Pink rib severity increased during storage, with the highest increase observed after 3 to 4 days in both seasons. After 9 days of storage, lettuce accessions with the least pink rib for each leaf type were identified. The lowest pink rib ratings after 9 days of storage were “moderate” (rating of 3) for crisphead, Latin, and romaine, “slight” (rating of 2) for butterhead types, and “none” (rating of 1) for leaf types. Additionally, pink rib severity increased among accessions during the late spring season harvest when field temperatures were higher and daylight hours were extended. The lettuce germplasm with low susceptibility to pink rib is promising to breed lettuce lines for future research.

Open Access

Fusarium wilt of lettuce is caused by the pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae (Fol) and is a growing threat to global lettuce production. Fol was first detected in Florida in 2017 and was subsequently confirmed as race 1. Management strategies for this long-persisting soil pathogen are limited, time-consuming and expensive, and they may lack efficacy. Identifying diverse sources of genetic resistance is imperative for breeding adapted cultivars with durable resistance. The objectives of this study were to identify sources of resistance against a race 1 isolate of Fol in Florida, delineate the relationship between foliar and taproot symptoms, and investigate the inheritance of resistance and partial resistance in two F2 populations. Thirteen experiments were conducted in greenhouse and field locations to characterize the diversity of genetic resistance in the genus Lactuca. Leaf cultivars Dark Lollo Rossa and Galactic; romaine breeding lines 43007, 60182, and C1145; and iceberg breeding line 47083 consistently exhibited low foliar and taproot disease symptoms. Resistance was not identified among the wildtype Lactuca or primitive plant introductions (PI) in this study based on taproot symptoms. An additional test was conducted to study the segregation pattern of Fol resistance between one resistant and one susceptible accession (R × S) and one partial resistant and one susceptible accession (PR × S). The F2 population from ‘60182 × PI 358001-1’ fit the expected segregation ratio for a single recessive locus model, whereas the ratio for ‘Dark Lollo Rossa × PI 358001-1’ did not fit either recessive or dominant single locus models. These sources of resistance are potential candidates for developing commercial cultivars with multiple resistance loci against Fol race 1, especially for the Florida lettuce production system.

Open Access

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is planted in Florida starting late fall at the end of September and continuing through the last harvest in May. In recent years, the season has shortened because of warm temperatures and weather-related events, such as rainfall at the beginning and the end of the season. During the transition between summer production in the Western U.S. lettuce season and the beginning of Florida’s winter production, there may be shortages of lettuce and other leafy vegetables in U.S. East Coast markets. In this research, we evaluated a set of lettuce breeding lines and cultivars in both sand and muck soils and a subset of romaine lettuces to determine whether lettuce planted in Florida’s sandy soils could help meet the supply shortage in the delay between the Western and Eastern U.S. lettuce seasons. Significant genetic variation and genotype × environment (G×E) interactions were observed among lettuce genotypes when planted in both sand and muck soils, suggesting that lettuce cultivars should be adapted and bred specifically for sandy soils. Romaine and butterhead lettuce lines produced higher yield in sandy soils; a particular romaine breeding line (BG18-0588) had good yield and less heat-related disorders when planted in warmer temperatures. Producing lettuce in sandy soils may have a higher production cost because of additional specific practices such as transplant production, plastic mulch, and fertigation, but these costs may be offset by increased productivity due to better weed control and nutrient timing. However, a future analysis should be conducted to elucidate the economic feasibility of producing lettuce in sandy soils.

Open Access

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is the most common leafy vegetable produced hydroponically in the United States. Although hydroponic systems are advantageous due to lower pest and disease pressure, and reduced water and nutrient requirements, the increasing prices of fertilizers, including phosphorus (P), still influences the profitability of hydroponic production of lettuce. Characterizing lettuce germplasm capable of producing high yield using less P inputs may help reduce fertilizer use, production costs, and P loads in wastewater. In this study, 12 lettuce accessions were grown in four experiments in a nutrient film technique system. In the first two experiments, the treatments consisted of two P concentrations (3.1 and 31 mg·L−1). Lettuce cultivated with 3.1 mg·L−1 of P had variable shoot and root biomass, root–shoot ratio, P uptake efficiency, and P utilization efficiency, indicating the existence of genetic variation. Five accessions (‘Little Gem’, 60183, ‘Valmaine’, BG19-0539, and ‘Green Lightning’) were considered efficient to P because produced similar shoot biomass with the low and high P treatments. In the third and fourth experiments, the treatments consisted of two P sources (monosodium phosphate (NaH2PO4) and tricalcium phosphate [TCP; Ca3(PO4)2]. Initially, extra 5 mM of calcium (Ca) was added to the TCP solution to reduce the TCP solubility and, hence, P bioavailability to plants. All accessions produced similar shoot and root weight with both treatments, indicating that the TCP treatment did not cause low-P stress to the plants. After, the extra Ca concentration added to TCP was increased to 10 mM, resulting in low-P stress and a significant reduction in shoot weight of all accessions. Despite the severe P stress, ‘Little Gem’ and 60183 were among the accessions with the least shoot weight reduction in the TCP treatment. Variability was observed in root biomass root–shoot ratio among accessions under the TCP treatment, suggesting that lettuce accessions responded differently to P stress conditions. The genetic variation for P use efficiency (PUE) and PUE-related traits in lettuce grown hydroponically suggests the feasibility of breeding new lettuce cultivars from elite lettuce germplasm adapted to low P availability in hydroponics.

Open Access

Growing vegetables in controlled environments (CEs), such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and vertical structures, is a rapidly expanding industry in Florida and the United States, especially in nearby urban areas. Although lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is still mostly produced in fields, growing in CEs proximal to urban areas has become increasingly popular because it may facilitate reduced transportation time and associated postharvest degradation. Lettuce is among the top-most consumed vegetables in the United States and could provide some of the nutrition missing in the US diet. This research was planned to understand the levels of some vitamins that are key for human health, including vitamin E (tocopherols), vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), and vitamin C (ascorbic acid), in lettuce grown in greenhouse hydroponics. Lettuce germplasm was grown using the hydroponic nutrient film technique system in three greenhouse experiments: at the beginning, middle, and end of the Florida, USA, growing season (from Aug 2020 to Mar 2021). Genetic variation for these vitamins were found among the germplasm tested in the four morphological types of lettuce, romaine, Boston, Latin, and leaf. In addition, a sugar analysis was conducted in this germplasm, of which fructose was the most abundant sugar. A significant genotype × environment (G × E) interaction was observed, indicating that the levels of these compounds, especially vitamins, was environment dependent. However, the presence of certain non-crossover G × E interactions indicates that selecting lettuce in a representative environment could result in new cultivars with higher vitamin content. This research marks the initial steps to improve lettuce for these vitamins, which can contribute to better health of US consumers, not for the highest amount of these compounds in lettuce but for the offset due to its high consumption.

Open Access

The postharvest life of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is variable and negatively affected by mechanical injury, incomplete cooling, and poor genetic quality. Lettuce breeders are developing cultivars with a longer shelf life and rely on subjective, destructive, and time-consuming methods for quality analysis. One method of accelerating quality evaluations is known as accelerated shelf-life testing (ASLT), which has the potential to assist breeders in assessing lettuce quality and shelf life. The objective of this research was to determine the quality traits that significantly affect shelf life to develop an ASLT procedure to rapidly assess the postharvest quality of lettuce accessions in breeding programs. In Test 1, Romaine lettuce quality was evaluated using one subjective and five objective parameters during storage at 5, 10, 15, or 20 °C. Results determined that weight loss, lightness*, and hue* angle were best correlated with the overall appearance rating, whereas storage at 10 or 15 °C differentiated the shelf-life potential quickly and without excessive deterioration. In Test 2, these objective characteristics and storage temperatures were used to study rates of quality deterioration of a commercial Romaine cultivar (Okeechobee) and a breeding line (60182), both with long shelf lives, and a Batavia lettuce cultivar (La Brillante) with a short shelf life. Lettuce was evaluated during storage at 10 °C (winter and spring seasons) or at 15 °C (winter season). Weight loss was the most appropriate quality index for lettuce at these storage temperatures for a single harvest, whereas lightness* and hue* angle were the most appropriate indices for comparing quality between harvests. To apply ASLT to postharvest assessments of lettuce, breeders and other researchers should include two controls with good and poor shelf life (similar to ‘Okeechobee’ and ‘La Brillante’, respectively) as standard baseline cultivars during storage at either 10 or 15 °C.

Open Access