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  • Author or Editor: J.F. Watson x
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The primary pigments in red beet are the betalains, which include the red-violet betacyanins and the yellow betaxanthins. The recent adoption of betalain pigments from red beet as an alternative to synthetic food dyes has heightened interest in genetic modification of pigment production. Dominant alleles at two tightly-linked loci (R and Y) condition production of betalain pigment in the beet plant; however, several alleles at the R locus influence pigment amount and distribution. A mutant phenotype, characterized by irregular sectors of blotchy red and white root color, arose spontaneously in the beet breeding nursery. The blotchy mutant plant was used in crosses with non-blotchy inbred lines to characterize its inheritance. Chisquare goodness-of-fi t tests of segregation data in backcross and F2 generations for several genetic backgrounds did not deviate from the hypothesis that a single recessive gene controls the blotchy phenotype. Linkage analysis was conducted to determine if the blotchy phenotype was conditioned by a new locus or an allele at a previously described locus. Our data indicate the bl gene resides at a newly described locus linked to R and Y. Maximum likelihood estimation revealed a linkage distance between R and Y of 8.95 ± 0.49 cM. The linkage distance between R and BL was calculated at 13.99 ± 1.18 cM, and the overall linkage between Y and BL was determined to be 28.8 ± 4.2 cM. Our data suggest the RYBL genomic region plays a critical role in the genetic control of betalain biosynthesis.

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A severe dwarf mutant affecting vegetative and reproductive growth arose spontaneously in our red beet (Beta vulgaris L. subsp. vulgaris) breeding nursery and was used in crosses with inbred lines to characterize its inheritance. Segregation data in backcross and F2 generations were collected. Chi-square goodness-of-fit tests did not deviate significantly from the expected ratios for a monogenic character for each genetic background-generation combination. We propose the symbol dw to describe the genetic control of this dwarf phenotype. Greenhouse experiments were conducted to determine whether the mutant was sensitive to exogenous application of gibberellic acid (GA). GA3 and GA4/7 in concentrations of 0 to 1000 ppm were applied to apical meristems during flower stem development in vernalized dwarf plants. Data on flower stem length and leaf length were collected over a 6-week period during reproductive growth. Recovery of wild-type flower stem length was obtained with application of both types of GA. A 30-fold increase in flower stem length over untreated plants was accomplished by GA application. Results of these phenocopy experiments suggest the mutant gene is involved in GA synthesis.

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Soil fumigation with methyl bromide greatly reduced Pythium debaryanum infection on carrots in pot experiments. The yield of carrots in fumigated soil responded to irrigation but did not respond in non-fumigated soil. A soil water stress equivalent to 20% of available water at field capacity produced the poorest yield.

Open Access

The objective of this study was to relate the lethal freezing temperatures of St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] genotypes, as measured by differential thermal analysis (DTA), to winter survival observed in the field. DTA-predicted lethal temperatures of 14 St. Augustinegrass genotypes ranged from –7.7 to –4.7C. Regression of field winter survival vs. DTA-predicted lethal temperatures resulted in an r 2 = 0.57 for one field trial that evaluated cultivars with a relatively narrow range of expected freezing tolerance. In a second study evaluating cultivars with a greater range of freezing tolerance, r 2 was 0.92 when winter survival was regressed on DTA-predicted lethal temperatures. DTA was successful in measuring freezing avoidance of St. Augustinegrass cultivars.

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Onion pungency is a major quality attribute with many consumers demanding less pungent onions. In recent years, some growers and retailers have attempted to measure pungency of onions produced in different regions to guarantee a desired level of pungency. However, there are few data on the variability among laboratories using standardized protocols to estimate relative levels of pungencies. Onion cultivars were grown in replicated trials at three locations. Random samples of bulbs from each experimental unit were harvested and shipped to at least three cooperating laboratories, each of which measured soluble solids content (SSC) and pungencies using the same techniques. As expected, cultivars and environments showed significant (P < 0.001) differences. For all three trials, laboratories were a highly significant source of variation (P < 0.024 to 0.001) for measurements of SSC and pungency. Therefore, one cannot make recommendations on relative pungencies of the same lots of onions measured by different labs. The onion research community must identify specific procedures to reduce variation among laboratories to develop a more repeatable standardized assay for the measurement of onion pungency.

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