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Weijie Jiang, Jie Bai, Xueyong Yang, Hongjun Yu and Yanpeng Liu

The application of plant growth regulators (PGRs), such as abscisic acid (ABA), putrescine (Put), and 2,4-epibrassinolide (EBR), has been shown to enhance a plant's resistance to various abiotic stresses. However, the protective effects of these PGRs on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) seedlings under suboptimal temperature stress have not yet been evaluated. We also do not know the most effective method of application of PGRs for various tomato cultivars. We studied the effects of three rates of exogenous ABA, Put, or EBR in limiting damage from suboptimal temperature stress on two tomato cultivars, Zhongshu6 (considered sensitive to suboptimal temperatures) and SANTIAM (considered tolerant to suboptimal temperatures). Results showed that application of these PGRs at appropriate concentrations could effectively reduce the decline in the net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and the chlorophyll (Chl) content in leaves caused by suboptimal temperature stress in both ‘Zhongshu6’ and ‘SANTIAM’ and could promote an increase in organic osmolyte (proline and soluble sugar) contents and root 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC)-reducing activity for ‘Zhongshu6’. However, these effects were inferior on ‘SANTIAM’. For both cultivars, the best treatment concentrations are 1 mm ABA, 0.1 mm Put, or 0.02 μM EBR. Results indicate that in tomato production, exogenous application of ABA, Put, or EBR at appropriate concentrations can effectively limit damage from suboptimal temperature stress.

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An Qin, Xiaosan Huang, Huping Zhang, Juyou Wu, Jie Yang and Shaoling Zhang

Ascorbic acid (AsA) is a major antioxidant and redox buffer in plants. Dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR; EC catalyzes the conversion of dehydroascorbate (DHA) to AsA and is crucial for AsA regeneration. In this study, we developed transgenic tomato plants that overexpressed PbDHAR2 to investigate whether PbDHAR2 could limit the deleterious effects of salt and chilling stresses. These transgenic plants contained significantly higher AsA levels than the wild-type (WT) plants. Overexpression of PbDHAR2 increased the expression of the AsA-glutathione (GSH) cycle genes in transgenic lines under salt and chilling stresses. In addition, the transgenic lines subjected to salt and chilling stresses showed higher levels of antioxidant enzyme activity, lower malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, and higher chlorophyll contents than the WT. Thus, our results demonstrate that the regulation of PbDHAR2 during AsA regeneration contributes to enhanced salt and chilling tolerance in tomato.

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Jie Fu, Qiaoyan Xiang, Xianbao Zeng, Mei Yang, Ying Wang and Yanling Liu

To assess the genetic diversity among lotus (Nelumbo) accessions and evaluate the correlation between genetic variation and morphological classification, we sampled 138 accessions: two of N. lutea, 112 of N. nucifera, 17 of hybrids between N. nucifera and N. lutea, and seven Japanese cultivars. The 11 selected combinations of amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) primers produced 138 polymorphic loci, and the percentage of polymorphism was 28.7%. The unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) dendrogram clustered all the accessions into two groups: Group I comprised N. lutea and its hybrids with N. nucifera; Group II included N. nucifera and its hybrids with N. lutea and Japanese cultivars. Population structure analysis identified four main clusters: N. lutea clustered mainly in C1, whereas N. nucifera clustered in C2, C3, and C4, which was consistent with the UPGMA and principal coordinate analysis results. The Japanese cultivars were related more closely to N. nucifera (genetic similarity coefficient = 0.74) than to N. lutea (0.46); hence, the Japanese cultivars can be classified as N. nucifera. Moreover, rhizome lotuses formed a separate subclade, whereas seed lotuses were interspersed among flower lotuses, which demonstrated that rhizome lotuses were distinct from flower and seed lotuses. Plant size, flower color, and other morphological criteria used commonly to classify lotuses were correlated with genetic variation to a certain extent but not sufficiently for accurate classification. It appears that it is necessary to use both DNA markers and morphological characteristics to classify lotus species and cultivars.

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Yuee Tian, Zhiping Che, Di Sun, Yuanyuan Yang, Xiaomin Lin, Shengming Liu, Xiaoyu Liu and Jie Gao

Tree peonies are valuable ornamental plants and are widely cultivated in China and many other countries. Gray mold caused by Botrytis cinerea is an increasingly severe disease in Luoyang of China and seriously affects the ornamental value of tree peonies both in the open air and in greenhouses. However, the resistance of different tree peony cultivars to B. cinerea remains unknown. In this study, 15 tree peony cultivars belonging to three different flowering times were evaluated for resistance to B. cinerea by detached leaf assay measure. Results showed that the resistance of early-flowering peonies was stronger than that of later flowering peonies. Moreover, the correlation between flowering time and resistance of tree peonies was extremely significant (P < 0.01). The information obtained in this study can provide theoretical basis both for further exploring the resistance genes of tree peony to B. cinerea and for the prevention and controlling of the gray mold.

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Sheng-Xi Liao, Xian-Jie Mi, Ai-Zhong Liu, Kun Li, Zhen-Yin Yang and Bo Tian

The Chinese Incense-cedar (Calocedrus macrolepis Kruz), an important wood and ornamental tree, is native to southwest China and also in northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. As a result of ecological degradation in these areas, Chinese Incense-cedar was considered a vulnerable species according to the criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. In the current report, we developed and characterized 13 novel microsatellite markers for this species using the protocol of fast isolation by amplified fragment length polymorphism of sequences containing repeats. Polymorphism of each locus was assessed in 36 individuals from nine geographical populations. The number of alleles per locus ranged from two to nine with an average of 6.08. The observed and expected heterozygosities ranged from 0.0000 to 1.0000 and from 0.1549 to 0.8912 with averages of 0.6688 and 0.6815, respectively. Four of the 13 loci were significantly deviated from Hardy-Weinberg expectations. No significant linkage disequilibrium was detected. These polymorphic microsatellite markers would be useful tools for investigating genetic population structure and diversity to establish conservation strategy for this interesting and vulnerable species.

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Soohyun Kang, Yating Zhang, Yuqi Zhang, Jie Zou, Qichang Yang and Tao Li

Ultraviolet-A (UV-A) is the main component of UV radiation in nature. However, its role on plant growth, to a large extent, remains unknown. In this study, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Beijing Cherry Tomato’) seedlings were cultivated in an controlled environment in which UV-A radiation was provided by UV-A fluorescent lamps (λmax = 369 nm) with a fluence rate of 2.28 W·m−2. The photoperiod of UV-A radiation was 0, 4, 8, and 16 hours, which corresponds to control, UV-A4, UV-A8, and UV-A16 treatments, respectively. The photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) was 220 μmol·m−2·s−1, which was provided by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with a blue/red light ratio of 1:9, the photoperiod of PPFD was 16 hours. We showed that supplementing 8 and 16 hours of UV-A to visible radiation (400–700 nm) stimulated plant biomass production by 29% and 33%, respectively, compared with that of control. This resulted mainly from larger leaves (i.e., 22% and 31% in 8 and 16 hours UV-A, respectively), which facilitated light capture. Supplemental UV-A also enhanced photosynthetic capacity, as indicated by greater net photosynthesis rates in response to CO2 under saturating PPFD. Furthermore, the greatest stomatal conductance (g S) value was observed in UV-A16, followed by UV-A8, which correlated with the greater stomatal density in the corresponding treatments. Moreover, supplemental UV-A did not induce any stress, as the maximum quantum efficiency of photosynthetic system II (PSII) (F v/F m) remained ≈0.82 in all treatments. Similarly, chlorophyll content and leaf mass area (LMA) were also unaffected by UV-A radiation. Taken together, we conclude that supplementing reasonable levels of UV-A to visible radiation stimulates growth of indoor cultivated tomato seedlings.

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Yu Bai, Ying Zhou, Xiaoqing Tang, Yu Wang, Fangquan Wang and Jie Yang

The appropriate timing of bolting and flowering is one of the keys to the reproductive success of Isatis indigotica. Several flowering regulatory pathways have been reported in plant species, but we know little about flowering regulatory in I. indigotica. In the present study, we performed RNA-seq and annotated I. indigotica transcriptome using RNA from five tissues (leaves, roots, flowers, fruit, and stems). Illumina sequencing generated 149,907,857 high-quality clean reads and 124,508 unigenes were assembled from the sequenced reads. Of these unigenes, 88,064 were functionally annotated by BLAST searches against the public protein databases. Functional classification and annotation assigned 55,991 and 23,072 unigenes to 52 gene ontology (GO) terms and 25 clusters of orthologous group (COG) categories, respectively. A total of 19,927 unigenes were assigned to 124 Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways, and 80 candidate genes related to plant circadian rhythm were identified. We also identified a number of differentially expressed genes (DEG) and 91 potential bolting and flowering-related genes from the RNA-seq data. This study is the first to identify bolting and flowering-related genes based on transcriptome sequencing and assembly in I. indigotica. The results provide foundations for the exploration of flowering pathways in I. indigotica and investigations of the molecular mechanisms of bolting and flowering in Brassicaceae plants.

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Jun-Bo Yang, Hong-Tao Li, De-Zhu Li, Jie Liu, Lian-Ming Gao, De-Zhu Li, Lian-Ming Gao and Jie Liu

The Himalayan yew, Taxus wallichiana Zucc., is an endangered species with a scatted distribution in the Eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. In the present study, 10 microsatellite markers from the genome of T. wallichiana were developed using the protocol of fast isolation by amplified fragment length polymorphism of sequences containing repeats (FIASCO). Polymorphism of each locus was assessed in 28 samples from four wild populations of the Himalayan yew. The allele number of the microsatellites ranged from two to five with an average of 2.9 per allele. The observed and expected heterozygosity varied from 0.00 to 1.00 and from 0.3818 to 0.7552, respectively. Cross-species amplification in another two yew species showed eight of them holding promise for sister species. Two of the 10 loci (TG126 and TC49) significantly deviated from Hardy-Weinberg expectations. No significant linkage disequilibrium was detected between the comparisons of these loci. These polymorphic microsatellite markers would be useful tools for population genetics studies and assessing genetic variations to establish conservation strategy of this endangered species.

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Joyce W. Ngure, Chunyan Cheng, Shuqiong Yang, Qunfeng Lou, Ji Li, Chuntao Qian, Jie Chen and Jinfeng Chen

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seed oil has the potential for use as an edible oil and as a pharmaceutical, cosmetic, insecticidal, and industrial product. In this study, we investigated, for the first time, the effect of cultivar and season on seed number, oil content, and fatty acid profiles as well as their proportions in different cucumber cultivars. We examined the effects of spring and autumn seasons on seed oil content and fatty acid composition in 46 cucumber cultivars and one wild species of cucumber (C. anguria) grown in greenhouse experiments in 2013 and 2014. Seed oil was determined using the Soxhlet method and fatty acids using the gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method. Seed oil content in the cucumber seeds ranged from 41.07% in ‘Hazerd’ to 29.24% in ‘Lubao’ while C. anguria had 23.3%. Fatty acids detected were linoleic (C18:2), palmitic (C16:0), oleic (C18:1), stearic (C18:0), linolenic (C18:3), behenic (C22:0), arachidic C20:0), lignoceric (C24:0), eicosenoic (C20:1), palmitoleic (C16:1), and myristic (C14:0), among other unidentified fatty acids. The results showed significant effects of cultivar genotype, growing season, and interactions on the variables examined. The content of seed oil and fatty acids differed significantly among the cultivar genotypes. Spring-grown cucumbers had higher quantities of oil than the autumn-grown cucumbers. The content of fatty acids (mainly palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, eicosenoic, and lignoceric) also was higher in spring. In autumn there were more seeds, and higher linoleic, linolenic, and other unspecified fatty acids. The higher the oleic acid content the lower was the linoleic acid indicating a strong negative relationship in these two fatty acids. The higher the seed oil content the higher was linoleic and oleic indicating a positive relationship between the seed oil and the two fatty acids. Results of this study provide important information applicable in improving management and production of cucumber seed oil especially considering its versatility in uses. Furthermore, the wide range of fatty acids found in the studied cucumber cultivars could be used in the production of novel industrial oils through genetic engineering.