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  • Author or Editor: I. Burns x
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The process of abscission results in shedding of plant parts such as leaves, fruit, flowers, and in citrus, shoot tips and entire shoots. Growers must successfully manage abscission in their operations to avoid unnecessary defoliation or loss of yield due to floral abscission or preharvest fruit drop. Conversely, abscission enhancement may be desired during harvest. Yet despite its importance to horticulture, little is known about mechanisms that control abscission. We know that abscission can be induced by ethylene and altered to some extent by auxin. Over the years, many physiological and anatomical events of abscission have been described. For example, cellulase, polygalacturonase and pectin methylesterase genes are induced during abscission, and they are thought to have a role in alteration and depolymerization of middle lamella polysaccharides located in the abscission zone area. Other genes, such as those associated with the process of pathogen resistance, are also induced during abscission. We are interested in using tools of molecular biology to examine abscission-related gene expression prior to organ separation in Florida field-grown Valencia orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) and greenhouse-grown calamondin (Citrus madurensis Loureiro) citrus trees. Subtractive cDNA library screening and differential display were used to examine gene expression in fruit, leaf and floral abscission zones 6, 24 and 48 h after induction of abscission with 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole or Ethrel® (Rhone-Poulenc, [2-chloroethyl] phosphoric acid). Some isolated cDNAs encoded polypeptides with no significant matches in the database or share significant similarities with unknown proteins isolated from Arabidopsis. Other cDNAs encoded polypeptides with similarity to cell wall modifying proteins such as polygalacturonases and expansin, PR proteins such as chitinase, proteins associated with secondary and xenobiotic metabolism such as amine oxidase, benzoquinone reductase, caffeic acid methyltransferase, phenylalanine ammonia lyase and squalene synthase, and proteins associated with signal transduction such as several serine/threonine kinases. Temporal and spatial expression of these genes and others will be presented. Use of this information to target potential points of abscission control will be discussed.

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Experiments were conducted to determine the effect of varying solution N concentrations on fruit yield and NO3-N concentration in leachate from rockwool-grown `Midal' peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) in Florida. Treatment 1 plants received a series of nutrient solutions containing N at 60, 90, and 120 mg·liter–1 (60–90–120 mg·liter–1) during their growth cycle. Plants in treatments 2 and 3 were grown with N at 120 or 175 mg·liter–1, respectively, throughout their entire growth cycle. Two trials were conducted; trial 1 from 17 Nov. 1991 to 1 July 1992, and trial 2 from 31 July 1992 to 23 Feb. 1993. In both trials, total marketable fruit weight was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher (16% to 67%) for plants grown with N at 175 than with 60–90–120 mg·liter–1. In trial 2, plants receiving N at 175 mg·liter–1 produced significantly more fruit (8%) and 14% higher total fruit weight than plants receiving N at 120 mg·liter–1. The trend toward higher yield with N at 175 rather than 120 mg·liter–1 also occurred during trial 1, but differences were not significant. Nitrogen concentration did not significantly affect the percentage of total fruit having blossom-end rot in either trial (41% in trial 1; 13% in trial 2). Nitrogen at 175 mg·liter–1 resulted in 10% to 40% increases in total nutrient solution use and 2.5- to 3.5-fold increases in leachate NO3-N concentration compared to N at 120 mg·liter–1.

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