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Mingyuan Xu, Yingwei Wang, Qianbo Wang, Shenglei Guo, Yang Liu, Jia Liu, Zhonghua Tang and Zhenyue Wang

In this investigation, changes in growth and photosynthetic parameters were used to explain the effects of drought stress on morphology and photosynthesis of Eleutherococcus senticosus. Liquid chromatography (LC)-mass spectroscopy (MS) was used to determine the content of eleutheroside B, eleutheroside E, isofraxidin, hyperoside, rutin, and kaempferol under different drought stress conditions to explain the effects of drought stress on secondary metabolism of Eleuthero. Growth and photosynthetic physiological parameters showed that drought stress could inhibit the growth and photosynthesis of Eleuthero. The compounds studied showed the same cumulative trend in various organs of Eleuthero under different drought stress conditions, with the highest content in the moderate drought stress group and the lowest in the severe drought stress group. Among them, the content of eleutheroside B was found to be higher in the 5-year-old stem. The content of eleutheroside E was higher in the 3-year root. The content of isofraxidin was highest in the 5-year-old root. The content of hyperoside, rutin, and kaempferol were higher in the 3-year-old leaves. The results show that a wet soil environment was beneficial to growth and photosynthesis of Eleutherococcus senticosus, and moderate drought stress is conducive to the accumulation of its active ingredients.

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Jia-yi Wang, Jian-shuang Shen, Mengmeng Gu, Jia Wang, Tang-ren Cheng, Hui-tang Pan and Qi-xiang Zhang

Yellow-leafed cultivars usually do not grow as vigorous as their green-leafed counterparts, which affect their use in landscapes. To breed Forsythia cultivars with both yellow leaves and vigorous growth, crosses between F. ‘Courtaneur’ (♀) and Forsythia koreana ‘Suwon Gold’ (♂) were conducted, and 52 F1 hybrid progenies with different leaf colors (green, chartreuse, and yellow) were obtained. The progenies were categorized into three groups [Yellow Group (YG), Chartreuse Group (CG), and Green Group (GG)] based on leaf colors. The growth index (GI) and the number of branches and leaves of YG progenies were significantly lower at 2%, 35%, and 34% of GG progenies. As the leaves changed from green to chartreuse and to yellow, chlorophyll content, leaf thickness, and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters decreased and the chloroplast structures were disintegrated gradually, which influenced the leaf photosynthetic activity and led to weak growth. Compared with yellow-leafed progenies, the leaf chlorophyll content and leaf thickness of chartreuse-leafed progenies were significantly higher at 71% and 9%. The chloroplast structure of stroma lamella of chartreuse-leafed progenies was relatively intact. Carboxylation efficiency (CE), photochemical efficiency of PS II (F v/F m), and the number of branches and leaves of GG progenies were significantly higher than YG progenies; however, they have no significant difference with CG progenies. The results were promising for breeding new forsythia cultivars from moderate growth and chartreuse leaves.

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Le Luo, Yichi Zhang, Yingnan Wang, Tangren Cheng, Huitang Pan, Jia Wang and Qixiang Zhang

Gesnariad (Primulina yungfuensis) is a popular houseplant species, native to southwest China. However, stunting frequently occurs as a result of limited knowledge about the growth requirements of this plant. Understanding water and fertilizer requirements of gesnariad are important for effective large-scale greenhouse cultivation. Using a response surface methodology (RSM) based on a rotatable central composite design (RCCD; half implementation), a pot experiment was performed in a natural-light greenhouse from June to Sept. 2014. The study assessed the interaction between irrigation volume (W) and nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) fertilizer rates on plant height, crown diameter, number of leaves, single leaf area, and fresh weight. Results showed that W had a significant positive effect on plant height, crown diameter, single leaf area, and fresh weight. Furthermore, P fertilization resulted in increased leaf number. Combined P and K fertilization reduced individual leaf area, whereas combined N and P fertilization reduced fresh weight. By analyzing the multiobjective decision-making model, we found that a combination of 100.2 mL water, 3.6 mmol·L−1 N, 0.10 mmol·L−1 P, and 1.2 mmol·L−1 K could be used to achieve optimum growth of gesnariad.

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Cunquan Yuan, Zhiyi Qu, Huitang Pan, Tangren Cheng, Jia Wang and Qixiang Zhang

Heterostylous Primula forbesii is an important ornamental flower in China because of its long-lasting flowers and winter bloom. This study aimed to develop markers of expressed sequence tag–simple sequence repeats (EST-SSRs) that are associated with heterostyly and that can be used for molecular-assisted selective breeding in P. forbesii. We investigated 114,474 unigenes and identified 25,095 SSRs in P. forbesii. Dinucleotide repeats (46.14%), mononucleotide repeats (44.65%), and trinucleotide repeats (8.27%) were the most abundant SSRs. Among the 25,095 SSRs, 10,645 SSR primer pairs were successfully designed, of which 130 primer pairs were randomly selected for further amplification validation using eight accessions of P. forbesii; 98 pairs produced clear and stable polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products, and 28 pairs showed polymorphism. Bulked segregant analysis (BSA) was conducted for the F1 population with respect to thrum style and pin style by scanning 28 polymorphic SSR primer combinations. One SSR marker, c64326, linked to the heterostyly trait at a genetic distance of ≈3.70 cM was identified. The marker c64326 was further validated in two populations with an accuracy of 97.92% and 90.63%. The novel and linked EST-SSR markers can be valuable resources for genetic diversity analysis, mapping, and marker-assisted breeding in P. forbesii.

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Yushu Li, Zongda Xu, Weiru Yang, Tangren Cheng, Jia Wang and Qixiang Zhang

The MADS-box gene SOC1/TM3 (suppressor of overexpression of constans 1/tomato MADS-box gene 3) integrates multiple flowering signals to regulate the transition from vegetative to reproductive development in arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Although SOC1-like genes have been isolated from a wide range of plant species, their orthologs are not well characterized in mei (Prunus mume), an important ornamental and fruit plant in east Asia. To better understand the molecular regulation of flower development in mei, we isolated and characterized three putative orthologs of arabidopsis SOC1, including PmSOC1-1, PmSOC1-2, and PmSOC1-3. The phylogenetic tree revealed that these genes fall into different subgroups within the SOC1-like gene group, suggesting distinct functions. PmSOC1-1 and PmSOC1-3 were mainly expressed in vegetative organs and at low expression levels in floral parts of the plants, whereas PmSOC1-2 was expressed only in vegetative organs. Furthermore, the expression level decreased significantly during flower bud differentiation development, suggesting a role for these genes in the transition from the vegetative to the reproductive phase. Overexpression of PmSOC1-1, PmSOC1-2, and PmSOC1-3 in arabidopsis caused early flowering. Early flowering also increased expression levels of four other flowering promoters, agamous-like 24 (AGL24), leafy (LFY), apetala 1 (AP1), and fruitfull (FUL). Moreover, the overexpression of PmSOC1-1 and PmSOC1-2 resulted in a range of floral phenotype changes such as sepals into leaf-like structures, petal color into green, and petal into filament-like structures. These results suggested that the genes PmSOC1-1, PmSOC1-2, and PmSOC1-3 play an evolutionarily conserved role in promoting flowering in mei, and may have distinct roles during flower development. Our findings will help elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the transition from vegetative to reproductive development in mei.

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Caihong Wang, Yike Tian, Emily J. Buck, Susan E. Gardiner, Hongyi Dai and Yanli Jia

European pear (Pyrus communis) ‘Aihuali’ carrying the dwarf character originating from ‘Nain Vert’ was crossed with ‘Chili’ (Pyrus bretschneideri). A total of 352 F1 progenies was produced to investigate the inheritance of the dwarf trait, and 111 of these were used to develop molecular markers. Chi-square analysis showed that the character fitted a 1:1 ratio indicative of a single dominant gene, which we have named PcDw. Using a bulked segregant analysis approach with 500 random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and 51 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers from pear (Pyrus pyrifolia and P. communis) and apple (Malus ×domestica), four markers were identified as cosegregating with the dwarf character. Two of these were fragments produced by the S1212 and S1172 RAPD primers, and the other two were the pear SSR markers KA14 and TsuENH022. The RAPD markers were converted into sequence-characterized amplified regions (SCARs) and designated S1212-SCAR318 and S1172-SCAR930 and, with the SSR markers KA14 and TsuENH022, were positioned 5.9, 9.5, 8.2, and 0.9 cM from the PcDw gene, respectively. Mapping of the KA14 and TsuENH022 markers enabled the location of the PcDw gene on LG 16 of the pear genetic linkage map.

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Aerdake Kuwantai, Yu-jia Liu, Zong-zhe Wan, Hong-yan Liu and Ling Wang

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Ni Jia, Qing-Yan Shu, Dan-Hua Wang, Liang-Sheng Wang, Zheng-An Liu, Hong-Xu Ren, Yan-Jun Xu, Dai-Ke Tian and Kenneth Michael Tilt

Petal anthocyanins were systematically identified and characterized by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)–electrospray ionization–mass spectrometry (MS) coupled with diode array detection among nine wild herbaceous peony (Paeonia L.) species (15 accessions). Individual anthocyanins were identified according to the HPLC retention time, elution order, MS fragmentation patterns, and by comparison with authentic standards and published data. Six main anthocyanins, including peonidin-3,5-di-O-glucoside, peonidin-3-O-glucoside-5-O-arabinoside (Pn3G5Ara), peonidin-3-O-glucoside, pelargonidin-3,5-di-O-glucoside, cyanidin-3,5-di-O-glucoside, and cyanidin-3-O-glucoside (Cy3G), were detected. In addition to the well-known major anthocyanins, some minor anthocyanins were identified in herbaceous peony species for the first time. Detection of the unique anthocyanins cyanidin-3-O-glucoside-5-O-galactoside and pelargonidin-3-O-glucoside-5-O-galactoside in both Paeonia anomala L. and P. anomala ssp. veitchii (Lynch) D.Y. Hong & K.Y. Pan indicated these two species should belong to the same taxon. Pn3G5Ara was found only in European wild species and subspecies suggesting different metabolic pathways between European and Chinese accessions. Anthocyanins conjugated with galactose and arabinose were observed in the genus Paeonia for the first time. The North American species, Paeonia tenuifolia L., had high Cy3G content in flower petals. This anthocyanin composition is distinct from the anthocyanin composition in Asian and European species and possibly is responsible for the vivid red coloration in flowers.

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Ling Wang, Yu-jia Liu, Nai-xin Liu, Yue Gong, Ya-nan Li and Jing-hong Wang