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Grace M. Pietsch and Neil O. Anderson

Gaura lindheimeri is a diploid herbaceous perennial species native to Texas and Louisiana and winter hardy only to USDA hardiness zone 5. A potential source of winter hardiness is G. coccinea Pursh., a polyploid widely distributed in North America; of particular interest are autotetraploid populations of G. coccinea from Minnesota. To facilitate interspecific hybridization, a tetraploid G. lindheimeri would be advantageous. Two G. lindheimeri genotypes, MN selections 443-1 and 01G-02, were treated with two different antimitotic agents at two concentrations, trifluralin—15 and 30 μm and colchicine—0.25 and 1.25 mm, along with appropriate controls, to determine the frequency of chromosome doubling. Two-node stem sections were treated for 12, 24, or 48 h and then rooted and grown to flowering. Pollen diameter was measured as an indicator of chromosome doubling in cell layer LII, and morphologic characteristics (days to flower, flower size, plant height, inflorescence height, and plant width) were recorded for all plants. Chromosome doubling was not observed in any plant treated with trifluralin. Based on pollen diameter, genotype 443–1 only had chromosome doubling in the colchicine 1.25 mm concentration when treated for 12 h. All durations of colchicine at 1.25 mm were successful for genotype 01G-02 as well as a small percent treated with colchicine at 0.25 mm treated for 48 h. Autotetraploid plants (2n = 4x = 28) had larger flowers in both genotypes, and autotetraploid derivatives of genotype 01G-02 flowered earlier and were taller than diploid plants. Conformation changes from three-lobed to four-lobed pollen grains were observed when pollen diameter approached that expected of 2n pollen. Visual screening of pollen for conformation changes can quickly determine if chromosome doubling in cell layer LII has occurred. With the autotetraploid G. lindheimeri derived from colchicine application, crosses can be performed with autotetraploid G. coccinea to introgress cold tolerance. Additional breeding can also be done at the tetraploid level to develop new autotetraploid cultivars of G. lindheimeri.

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Grace M. Pietsch, Paul H. Li, and Neil O. Anderson

Cold acclimation has been extensively studied in woody species such as Cornus sericea and Malu × domestica. These studies have shown that cold acclimation is initiated by short days and completed with the addition of a cold treatment. It is unknown whether herbaceous perennials respond in a similar manner to these environmental cues. Our research objective was to examine short day photoperiod effects on cold acclimation in herbaceous gaura populations collected at different latitudes. Gaura drummondii collected in Texas, and Gaura coccinea collected in Minnesota and Texas were clonally propagated, grown under a 16-hour long day photoperiod and 25/20 °C [day/night (D/N)] temperature for 8 weeks. Plants were then subjected to 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 weeks of 8-hour short days at 20/15 °C (D/N) temperatures. Cold acclimation was determined using electrolyte leakage (freezing stem pieces from –1 to –9 °C) and measuring electrical conductivity after treatment and tissue death. Mean separations showed two distinct statistical groupings of 0-2 weeks and 3–5 weeks of short days for Minnesota gaura, whereas Texas gaura overlapped for 0–5 weeks of short day treatments. It is unknown what environmental cue(s) initiate cold acclimation in Gaura native to southern latitudes such as Texas.

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Grace M. Pietsch, William H. Carlson, Royal D. Heins, and James E. Faust

The effects of day and night temperatures (15 to 35C) and three irradiance levels [50% of ambient, ambient, and ambient plus 12 mol·m-2·day-1 of supplemental photosynthetic photon flux (PPF)] on development of Catharanthus roseus `Grape Cooler' were determined. Time to flower decreased by 30 days and leaf-pair unfolding rate (LUR) increased linearly as average daily temperature increased from 18 to 35C. Flower size was greatest when plants were grown at 25C. Supplemental light decreased days to flower and increased flower size. Flowering occurred when nine leaf pairs were present on the plant. Using the inverse of the LUR curve, i.e., days per leaf pair, the number of days to flower could be predicted at any time during plant development based on plant leaf number.