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Ju Ding, Kai Shi, Yan-Hong Zhou and Jing-Quan Yu

Root and foliar applications of 24-epibrassinolide (EBL), an immobile phytohormone with antistress activity, were evaluated for their effects on reducing fusarium wilt and their influence on antioxidant and phenolic metabolism in roots of cucumber plants (Cucumis sativus L. cv. Jinyan No. 4). EBL pretreatment significantly reduced disease severity together with improved plant growth and reduced losses in biomass regardless of application methods. EBL treatments significantly reduced pathogen-induced accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, activities of defense-related and ROS-scavenging enzymes. The enzymes included superoxide dismutase, ascorbate peroxidase, guaiacol peroxidase, catalase as well as phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and polyphenoloxidase. There was no apparent difference between two application methods used. EBL applications triggered a slight increase in H2O2 concentration followed by increases in the transcript levels of WRKY transcription factor and defense-related genes. This study demonstrated that EBL enhanced resistance to fusarium wilt by a novel mechanism that was not related to its active transport or increase in antioxidant system.

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Shunzhao Sui, Jianghui Luo, Daofeng Liu, Jing Ma, Weiting Men, Lu Fan, Yu Bai and Mingyang Li

Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is a woody garden plant with fragrant flowers, which blooms in deep winter. The vase life of fresh cut flowers is 8–9 days. We applied ethylene and 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; an ethylene action inhibitor) to test the role of ethylene in flower opening and senescence. In addition, abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellic acid (GA3), two cytokinins, 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA), and zeatin (ZT) were also applied. The expression pattern of CpSRG1, a senescence-related gene, was analyzed. Ethylene treatment accelerated flower opening and senescence, decreasing vase life by 2.1 days. It also decreased flower break strength, indicating the induction of abscission. 1-MCP slowed opening, delayed senescence, and prolonged vase life by 2.6 days. Ethylene dramatically induced the expression of the CpSRG1 gene, while 1-MCP suppressed it. ZT promoted flower opening and increased vase life by 1.6 days. It suppressed the expression of CpSRG1. 6-BA, GA3, or ABA had no significant effect on flower opening and senescence of wintersweet.

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Warren F. Lamboy, Jing Yu, Phil L. Forsline and Norman F. Weeden

One of the primary progenitors of the cultivated apple (Malus ×domestica) is M. sieversii, a species native to the forested regions of Central Asia. Despite the horticultural importance of M. sieversii, little is known about its genetic variation. In this study, isozyme diversity at 18 loci was determined for 259 open-pollinated offspring belonging to 31 different maternal half-sib families collected from 14 different populations in 4 regions of central Asia. Genetic diversity statistics were computed from the resulting allele and phenotype frequencies. Cluster analysis of half-sib families showed that there was some grouping based on geographic region, but 16 of the half-sib families were most closely related to half-sib families from other regions. AMOVA, the analysis of molecular variance, indicated that most of the enzyme variability (85%) was attributable to differences among half-sib families within populations, none could be assigned to populations within regions, and 15% was due to differences among regions. In addition, no alleles were found that were both fixed in a region and unique to that region. These results suggest that plants belonging to M. sieversii effectively form a single panmictic population. Thus, a thorough sampling of a few large populations will efficiently capture most of the genetic diversity present in wild M. sieversii.

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Warren F. Lamboy, Jing Yu, Phil L. Forsline and Norman F. Weeden

One of the primary progenitors of the cultivated apple is Malus sieversii L., a species native to the forested regions of central Asia. Despite the horticultural importance of M. sieversii, little is known about genetic variation in this species. In this study, allozyme diversity at 18 loci was determined for 259 seedlings belonging to 31 sib families, each consisting of the set of offspring from a different open-pollinated maternal (seed) parent. Maternal parents belonged to 14 populations from four geographic regions. Genetic diversity statistics were computed from the resulting allele and phenotype frequencies. Cluster analysis of sib families showed that there was some grouping based on geographic region, but 16 of the sib families were most closely related to sib families from other regions. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated that 85% of the enzyme variability was due to differences among sib families within populations and 15% was due to differences among regions. No variability could be assigned to differences among populations within regions. In addition, no alleles were found that were fixed in a region and unique to that region. These results suggest that plants belonging to M. sieversii effectively form a panmictic population. Consequently, a thorough sampling of a few large populations will efficiently capture most of the genetic diversity present in wild M. sieversii.

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Zhi-li Suo, Xiao-qing Zhao, Jing-yu Sun and Wen-hai Sun

There exist large accumulations of natural genetic diversifications under the natural and artificial selections on the flower among the Chinese tree peony cultivars incited by ornamental and medicinal uses in the past over 1500 years in China. Paeonia suffruticosa `Xiao Ci Wei' is a unique Chinese tree peony cultivar possessing special bicolored petals with tubular tip structure (Paeoniaceae). This natural mutant is not only a unique ornamental, but also a valuable material for scientific researches in Evodevotics.

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Hua Gao, Zheng-yang Zhao, Yu-miao Lu, Yi-zhen Wan, Lei-cun Wang, Jing-jun Yuan and Peter M. Hirst

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Zhi-Hong Gao, Zhi-Jun Shen, Zhen-Hai Han, Jing-Gui Fang, Yu-Ming Zhang and Zhen Zhang

Sequencing amplification fragments produced using simple-sequence repeat (SSR) primer pairs pchgms2 and UDP96008 in `Dayezhugan' japanese apricot showed that SSRs obtained included a microsatellite locus originally identified in peach. The microsatellite sequence homogeneity between UDP96008 in japanese apricot in this study and UDP96008 in the peach in GenBank was 98%. Twenty-four japanese apricot genotypes originating in diverse geographic areas had been identified with 14 SSR primer pairs developed in different species of Prunus. In total, 129 alleles were obtained and per primer pairs detected 2.5 alleles on the average. The results from cluster analysis showed that the genetic distance between `Nanhong' and `Zhonghong' was the closest, and cultivars from China and from Japan could not be separated completely.

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

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Kang-Di Hu, Xiao-Yue Zhang, Sha-Sha Wang, Jun Tang, Feng Yang, Zhong-Qin Huang, Jing-Yu Deng, Si-Yuan Liu, Shang-Jun Zhao, Lan-Ying Hu, Gai-Fang Yao and Hua Zhang

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been proven to be a multifunctional signaling molecule in plants. In this study, we attempted to explore the effects of H2S on the climacteric fruit tomato during postharvest storage. H2S fumigation for 1 d was found to delay the peel color transition from green to red and decreased fruit firmness induced by ethylene. Further investigation showed that H2S fumigation downregulated the activities and gene expressions of cell wall–degrading enzymes pectin lyase (PL), polygalacturonase (PG), and cellulase. Furthermore, H2S fumigation downregulated the expression of ethylene biosynthesis genes SlACS2 and SlACS3. Ethylene treatment for 1 d was found to induce the expression of SlACO1, SlACO3, and SlACO4 genes, whereas the increase was significantly inhibited by H2S combined with ethylene. Furthermore, H2S decreased the transcript accumulation of ethylene receptor genes SlETR5 and SlETR6 and ethylene transcription factors SlCRF2 and SlERF2. The correlation analysis suggested that the fruit firmness was negatively correlated with ethylene biosynthesis and signaling pathway. The current study showed that exogenous H2S could inhibit the synthesis of endogenous ethylene and regulate ethylene signal transduction, thereby delaying fruit softening and the ripening process of tomato fruit during postharvest storage.