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Yusheng Zheng and Carol J. Lovatt

Rough lemon seedlings [Citrus limon (L)] were hydroponically-cultured in complete Shive's nutrient solution (+K) or in Shive's nutrient solution with potassium omitted (-K) for a period of eight months. Fresh and dry weight of whole -K plants were reduced 4-fold (P<0.01). Nitrogen metabolism was monitored during this period in young, fully expanded leaves. Results showed that leaves of -K plants accumulated 2.5-fold more NH3-NH4 + than +K plants (P<0.01) and exhibited a concomitant increase in both activity of the de novo arginine biosynthetic pathway (2.5-fold) and free-arginine concentration (3.5-fold; P<0.001). Leaf proline content of -K plants increased 1.6-fold (P<0.05), while putrescine content increased 10-fold. Arginine decarboxylase activity was accelerated in -K plants.

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J. Lu, Z. Liu, and Y. Zheng

Genetic relationships among 42 grape accession of at least 15 species were estimated and compared using RAPD and isozyme techniques. These accessions were either hybrids or wild collections of the Asiatic species, the American species, the European grape (V. vinifera), and muscadine grape (V. rotundifolia). A total of 196 RAPD fragments were generated from twenty 10-mer primers. The pairwise similarities among the accession ranged from 0.46 to 0.94. A dendrogram was generated based on the RAPD similarity coefficients. Species/accessions were basically grouped together in accordance with their geographic origins. The similarities and dendrogram resulted from the RAPD analysis were consistent with the ones generated from the isozyme data, and also consistent with the known taxonomic information. This result suggest that the RAPD method, like isozyme, is an useful tool for studying grape genetic relationship/diversity and origination.

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Jasmine J. Mah, David Llewellyn, and Youbin Zheng

In greenhouse ornamental crop production, bedding plants grown below high densities of hanging baskets (HBs) tend to be of lower quality. Hanging basket crops can decrease the red to far red ratio (R:FR) of the growing environment below; however, the extent to which decreased R:FR affects plant morphology and flowering of the lower-level crops is unknown. The present study examined effects of R:FR on morphology and flowering of marigold ‘Antigua Orange’ (Tagetes erecta), petunia ‘Duvet Red’ (Petunia ×hybrida), calibrachoa ‘Kabloom Deep Blue’ (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), and geranium ‘Pinto Premium Salmon’ (Pelargonium ×hortorum). Five R:FR light treatments were provided ranging from R:FR 1.1 (representing unfiltered sunlight) to R:FR 0.7 (representing shaded conditions under HBs) using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in growth chambers, each with identical photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) (400–700 nm) and FR added to achieve the target R:FR ratio. Two experiments using the same R:FR treatments were conducted with day/night temperature regimes of 20 °C/18 °C and 25 °C/21 °C, respectively. In the second experiment, a fluorescent light treatment was included. The results of the second experiment were more dramatic than the first, where reducing R:FR from 1.1 to 0.7 increased height by 11%, 22%, and 32% in marigold, petunia, and calibrachoa, respectively, and increased petiole length in geranium by 10%. Compared with R:FR 1.1, the R:FR 0.7 shortened the time to the appearance of first flower bud by 2 days in marigold, whereas flowering was minimally affected in other species. Compared with pooled data from the LED treatments, fluorescent light increased relative chlorophyll content for all species, reduced height in marigold, petunia, calibrachoa, and geranium by 26%, 67%, 60%, and 48%, and reduced stem dry weight by 28%, 39%, 21%, and 31%, respectively. The differences in morphology observed under fluorescent light compared with LED R:FR treatments indicate that light quality manipulation is a potential alternative to chemical growth regulators in controlled environments such as greenhouses and growth chambers.

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Eric R. Rozema, Robert J. Gordon, and Youbin Zheng

Certain ions such as Na+ and Cl can accumulate in recirculating greenhouse nutrient solutions and can reach levels that are damaging to crops. An option for the treatment of this problem is phytodesalinization with Na+ and Cl hyperaccumulating plants that could be added to existing water treatment technologies such as constructed wetlands (CWs). Two microcosm experiments were conducted to evaluate eight plant species including Atriplex prostrata L. (triangle orache), Distichlis spicata (L.) Greene (salt grass), Juncus torreyi Coville. (Torrey’s rush), Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud. (common reed), Spartina alterniflora Loisel. (smooth cordgrass), Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (C.C. Gmel.) Palla (softstem bulrush), Typha angustifolia L. (narrow leaf cattail), and Typha latifolia L. (broad leaf cattail) for their Na+ and Cl accumulation potential. An initial (indoor) experiment determined that J. torreyi, S. tabernaemontani, T. angustifolia, and T. latifolia were the best candidates for phytodesalinization because they had the highest Na+ and Cl tissue contents after exposure to Na+ and Cl-rich nutrient solutions. A second (outdoor) experiment quantified the Na+ and Cl ion uptake (grams of each ion accumulated per m2 of microcosm). J. torreyi, S. tabernaemontani, T. angustifolia, and T. latifolia accumulated 5.8, 3.9, 8.3, and 9.2 g·m−2 of Na+ and 25.7, 18.2, 31.6, and 27.2 g·m−2 of Cl, respectively. Of the eight species, T. latifolia and S. tabernaemontani showed the greatest potential to accumulate Na+ and Cl in a CW environment, whereas S. alterniflora, D. spicata, and P. australis showed the least potential.

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J.M. Mutisya, J.A. Sullivan, S. Couling, J.C. Sutton, and J. Zheng

The relationship between severity of leaf scorch epidemics, caused by Diplocarpon earlianum, and components of vegetative growth and fruit yield was examined in `Kent' strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.). Plants were treated in July with six densities of initial inoculum of the pathogen, and severity of leaf scorch was assessed at 2-week intervals from late July to late October. After an analysis of vegetative growth in late October, plants were overwintered in the field or grown in a greenhouse, and later assessed for yield components. Relationships between area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) and plant growth and yield components were examined by regression analysis. Significant negative linear relationships were found between AUDPC values and number of green leaves, leaf area, leaf dry weight, crown number, crown dry mass, and root dry weight. Significant negative relationships were also found between AUDPC values and number of flowers and inflorescences, and total and marketable berries in the subsequent season, in plants maintained in the field or in the greenhouse. Mean berry weight was not significantly affected. Reduction in the number of crowns in plants affected by leaf scorch was a major factor limiting the yield of diseased plants. In an analysis of regrowth at seven weeks after fruit harvest, a significant negative linear relationships was found between AUDPC values and each growth component except crown dry weight. Collectively, the data provide a rationale to optimize timing of treatments, such as chemical fungicides or microbial agents, to control leaf scorch in August, September and October and thereby promote berry yield in the subsequent season.

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Salvatore Campisi-Pinto, Yusheng Zheng, Philippe E. Rolshausen, David E. Crowley, Ben Faber, Gary Bender, Mary Bianchi, Toan Khuong, and Carol J. Lovatt

Optimizing ‘Hass’ avocado (Persea americana Mill.) tree nutrient status is essential for maximizing productivity. Leaf nutrient analysis is used to guide avocado fertilization to maintain tree nutrition. The goal of this research was to identify a ‘Hass’ avocado tissue with nutrient concentrations predictive of yields greater than 40 kg of fruit per tree. This threshold was specified to assist the California avocado industry to increase yields to ≈11,200 kg·ha−1. Nutrient concentrations of cauliflower stage inflorescences (CSI) collected in March proved better predictors of yield than inflorescences collected at full bloom (FBI) in April, fruit pedicels (FP) collected at five different stages of avocado tree phenology from the end of fruit set in June through April the following spring when mature fruit enter a second period of exponential growth, or 6-month-old spring flush leaves (LF) from nonbearing vegetative shoots collected in September (California avocado industry standard). For CSI tissue, concentrations of seven nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) were predictive of trees producing greater than 40 kg of fruit annually. Conditional quantile sampling and frequency analysis were used to identify optimum nutrient concentration ranges (ONCR) for each nutrient. Optimum ratios between nutrient concentrations and yields greater than 40 kg per tree were also derived. The high nutrient concentrations characterizing CSI tissue suggest current fertilization practices (timing or amounts) might be causing nutrient imbalances at this stage of avocado tree phenology that are limiting productivity, a possibility that warrants further investigation. Because CSI samples can be collected 4–6 weeks before full bloom, nutritional problems can be addressed before they affect flower retention and fruit set to increase current crop yield, fruit size, and quality. Thus, CSI nutrient analysis warrants further research as a potential supplemental or alternative tool for diagnosing ‘Hass’ avocado tree nutrient status and increasing yield.