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Hector E. Pérez

Delayed and inconsistent seed germination often hampers commercial production of palms (Arecaceae). Such sporadic germination is commonly due to seed dormancy. Mature, freshly shed seeds of palms typically display a combination of underdeveloped embryos (morphological dormancy) and the inability of developing embryos to rupture covering structures (physiological dormancy). Fruit and seedcoats are capable of imbibing water. Therefore, dormancy due to water-impermeable fruit or seedcoats (physical dormancy) does not occur. Removal of embryo covering structures, such as the pericarp and operculum, followed by incubation under moist, warm (25–35 °C) conditions promotes rapid and complete germination. Complete burial in soil promotes germination of seeds in intact fruit of loulu palm (Pritchardia remota).

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Yai Ulrich Adegbola and Héctor E. Pérez

We investigated the response of Gaillardia pulchella seeds to desiccation and aging stress to gain some perspective on the germplasm storage potential and seed vigor of this species. Seed–water relations of mature, freshly harvested G. pulchella seeds were characteristic of desiccation-tolerant species. For example, initial seed water potential (−53 MPa) was well below the lethal water potential limit (−15 MPa) for desiccation-sensitive seeds. Desiccation tolerance was confirmed by high (>70%), rapid (t 50 range 4–7 days), and uniform germination following equilibration drying. Likewise, post–saturated salt accelerated aging (SSAA) germination tests indicated a high degree of vigor of fresh seeds. The substantial level of desiccation and aging-related stress tolerance in G. pulchella seeds suggests that these organs potentially display orthodox storage physiology and an ability to endure variable seed bed conditions.

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Philip J. Kauth and Hector E. Pérez

Native plant sales have increased steadily during the past decade because of consumer concern with invasive plant sales, water conservation, and land management issues. However, native plants are still under-used mostly because of a small market and the lack of education on the use and care of native plants. For example, native plant sales in Florida accounted for only 11% of the total horticultural market in 2005. Within the Florida native plant industry, a small, but competitive market focuses on native wildflowers, but a paucity of information related to opportunities within this segment exists. We sent surveys to 137 members of the Florida native plant industry to learn about their interests, concerns, and trends in the native wildflower market. Survey respondents identified low demand, seed supply, and availability of desired species, plus insufficient customer and industry education as major factors limiting Florida native wildflower (FNW) sales. An overwhelming majority predicted that sales for locally produced FNWs would increase over the next 5 years. Respondents also stated that seed germination, seed storage, and seed production research are vital for the advancement of the industry. This survey provides an excellent opportunity to analyze the current native wildflower market and identify areas to help increase awareness of FNWs.

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Alison E. Heather, Hector E. Pérez and Sandra B. Wilson

The perennial nature, prolific white to pink racemes, and attractive foliage and form of october flower [Polygonella polygama (Vent.) Engelm. & A. Gray] and sandhill wireweed [Polygonella robusta (Small) G.L. Nesom & V.M. Bates] suggest that these wildflowers could have significant ornamental and landscape potential if an effective propagation method could be developed. However, a paucity of seed biology information exists for these species. Two- to 4-month-old seeds of both species were tested for viability using triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TZ) before germination experiments. Initial viability of seed lots was 77.4% ± 6.3% and 53.5% ± 6.8% for october flower and sandhill wireweed, respectively. Initial germination tests showed that both species had the highest number of germinated seeds in cool temperatures (22/11 °C day/night), but a portion of the seed population remained dormant. Germination of both species at simulated seasonal temperatures indicated that seeds require a warm, moist period (warm stratification) before germination starts at cooler temperatures. Germination of both species also increased when gibberellic acid (GA3) was applied at the highest rate of 1000 ppm. We conclude that seeds of both species exhibit non-deep physiological dormancy.

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Hector Eduardo Pérez, Carrie Reinhardt Adams, Michael E. Kane, Jeffrey G. Norcini, Glenn Acomb and Claudia Larsen

Traditional college students do not fit the demographic profile of people who are driving increased sales in gardening and landscaping or the use of native wildflowers. However, today's college students, especially those in plant-related disciplines, may be making future decisions regarding the use of native wildflowers for various applications. Many college students may be unaware of or disinterested in native wildflowers. We used a web-based survey to gauge awareness and interest of native wildflowers in Florida college students enrolled in plant-related disciplines. While students have a generally low awareness of native wildflowers, they expressed high levels of interest in learning more about the identification or cultivation of these species, seeing wildflowers, particularly on their campuses, and using wildflowers in different settings. Students were also interested in purchasing native wildflower seeds or finished plants from local retailers rather than through the Internet. We used student responses from this study to discuss education and marketing opportunities toward native wildflowers.

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Debalina Saha, S. Christopher Marble, Brian J. Pearson, Héctor E. Pérez, Gregory E. MacDonald and Dennis C. Odero

Mulch is often applied in landscape planting beds for weed control, but little research has focused specifically on mulch and preemergence (PRE) herbicide combinations. The objectives of this research were to determine the efficacy of herbicide + mulch combinations and which factors significantly affected weed control, including herbicide formulation and posttreatment irrigation volumes. Additional objectives were to determine efficacy derived from mulch or herbicides used alone under herbicide + mulch combinations and to identify differences in the additive (herbicide + mulch combinations) or singular (herbicide or mulch) effects compared with the use of herbicides or mulch only. Large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), garden spurge (Euphorbia hirta), and eclipta (Eclipta prostrata) were used as bioassay species for prodiamine, dimethenamid-P + pendimethalin, and indaziflam efficacy, respectively. The experiment consisted of a factorial treatment arrangement of two herbicide formulations (granular or spray applied), three mulch types [hardwood chips (HWs), pine bark (PB), and pine straw (PS)], two mulch depths (1 and 2 inches), and three levels of one-time, posttreatment irrigation volumes (0.5, 1, and 2 inches). Three sets of controls were used: the first set included three mulch types applied at two depths receiving only 0.5-inch irrigation volume, the second set included only two herbicide formulations and three one-time irrigation volumes, whereas the last set received no treatment (no herbicide or mulch) and only 0.5-inch irrigation volume. High levels of large crabgrass and garden spurge control (88% to 100%) were observed with all herbicide + mulch combinations evaluated at mulch depths of 1 inch or greater. When comparing mulch types, the best eclipta control was achieved with hardwood at 2 inches depth. The spray formulation of indaziflam outperformed the granular formulation in most cases when used alone or in combination with mulch. Overall, the results showed that spray formulations of prodiamine and dimethenamid-P + pendimethalin were more effective than granular formulations when applied alone, whereas indaziflam was more effective as a spray formulation when used both alone and in combination with mulch. Increasing irrigation volume was not a significant factor for any of the herbicide + mulch combinations when evaluating overall weed control.

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Cristián Vela-Hinojosa, Héctor B. Escalona-Buendía, José A. Mendoza-Espinoza, Juan M. Villa-Hernández, Ricardo Lobato-Ortíz, Juan E. Rodríguez-Pérez and Laura J. Pérez-Flores

Antioxidants, antioxidant capacity, and the expression of isoprenoid metabolism–related genes and two pigmentation-related transcription factors were studied in four native and four hybrid tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) genotypes with different-colored fruit. Red fruit genotypes were associated with greater lycopene, β-carotene, lipophilic antioxidant capacity, and greater chromoplast-specific lycopene β-cyclase (CYC-B) transcript levels. Orange fruit genotypes had greater concentrations of tocopherols and greater transcript levels of homogentisate phytyl transferase (VTE-2), 1-deoxy-D-xylulose phosphate synthase (DXS), and 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD). The yellow fruit genotype was greater in total polyphenol and hydrophilic antioxidant capacity with greater expression of geranylgeranyl reductase (GGDR), phytol kinase (VTE-5), phytoene synthase (PSY) 2, lycopene β-cyclase (LCY-B), SlNAC1, and SINAC4. Greater levels of individual antioxidants were associated with specific coloration of tomato fruit. Moreover, the negative correlations between the expression of PSY1 and VTE-5, and between lycopene and chlorophyll, suggest a balance between carotenoids, tocopherols, and chlorophylls. The results of this study support either the direct commercialization of tomatoes with different color fruit or use of their genotypes in breeding programs to increase antioxidant levels among existing cultivars.