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John M. Skelly, Don D. Davis, and Dennis R. Decoteau*

An Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center has been developed within the Arboretum at Penn State Univ.. The Center provides opportunities where students (of all ages) and teachers (grade-school through to classes within the Univ.) can learn about air quality as one of our most important natural resources. A seasonally interactive display of air quality monitoring instrumentation, self guided walkways through gardens of air pollution sensitive plant species, innovative techniques for demonstrating the effects of air pollutants on plants, displays of recent research findings, industry supported displays of pollution abatement technologies, and a teaching pavilion are within the Center. A Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection air quality monitoring station with ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, PM < 2.5 u mass and speciation samplers, and a complete meteorological station provide data on the immediate environmental parameters. These data are relayed to an LCD crystal display board that has been mounted on the outside of the monitoring building; visitors are able to see the various measures of the air quality on a real time basis. Pannier type fiberglass display panels provide understandings of the various facets of air pollution formation and transport phenomena, air quality monitoring methods, the functions of open-top chambers, foliar symptoms expressed by pollution sensitive plants within the bioindicator gardens, and the impacts of pollution on agricultural and forested ecosystems. Handicapped accessible walkways lead visitors throughout the Center to the Teaching Pavilion that easily accommodates 80 persons. The pavilion is equipped with drop down curtains, electric power, and internet connections.

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Milton E. Tignor, John M. Davis, Frederick S. Davies, and Wayne B. Sherman

Poncirus trifoliata is a comparatively hardy, cross compatible, and graft compliant relative of Citrus. The citrus industry in Florida has suffered immense economic losses due to freezes. Although much research has been done in citrus freeze hardiness, little work has been on the early induction of freeze tolerance by low temperature. Poncirus trifoliata `Rubidoux' seedlings were germinated in perlite under intermittent mist at about 25°C and natural daylight conditions in a greenhouse and grown 2 weeks. See dlings were then transferred into a growth chamber at 25°C and 16 hour daylength for 1 week. Temperature was lowered to 10°C and tissue samples were collected at 0, 6, 24, and 168 hours. Freezing tolerance, at –6.7°C as determined by electrolyte leakage, and stem (leaves attached) water potential, measured using a pressure bomb, were also recorded for a subset of seedlings for the above intervals. After exposure to low temperature for 48 hours a red coloration became visible at the petiole leaflet junction an d at the buds, with subsequent exposure to low temperature the coloration spread to the leaves. Clones for phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), 4-coumarate:CoA ligase (4CL), and chlorophyll ab binding protein (CAB), and chalcone synthase (CHS) were used to probe RNA isolated from P. trifoliata. PAL and 4CL transcripts increased in response to the low temperature. Significant increases in freeze hardiness occurred within 6 hours in the leaves, and increases continued for up to one week. Water potential increased from –0.6 to –2.0 MPa after 6 hours, then returned to –0.6 MPa after 1 week. These data indicate that increases in freezing tolerance and changes in water potential and gene expression can be detected shortly after low temperature treatments are imposed on P. trifoliata seedlings.

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Milton E. Tignor, Frederick S. Davies, Wayne B. Sherman, and John M. Davis

Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf. seeds were germinated in perlite under intermittent mist at about 25 °C and natural daylight in a greenhouse. Two-week-old seedlings were then transferred into a growth chamber at 25 °C and 16-hour daylength for 1 week. Tissue samples were collected at 0, 6, 24, 168, and 504 hours after temperature equilibration at 10 °C. Freezing tolerance at –6.7 °C, as determined by electrolyte leakage, and stem (leaves attached) water potential (ψx), measured using a pressure chamber, was recorded for a subset of seedlings for each time interval. Red coloration (apparently anthocyanin) developed at the petiole leaflet junction and buds after 48 hours at 10 °C and gradually occurred throughout the leaves during further exposure. Complementary DNA clones for phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), 4-coumarate: coA ligase (4CL), and chalcone synthase (CHS) were used to probe RNA isolated from the leaves. No increase in steady-state messenger RNA level was detected. Increases in freeze hardiness occurred within 6 hours in the leaves, and continued for up to 1 week. Water potential initially decreased from –0.6 to –2.0 MPa after 6 hours, then returned to –0.6 MPa after 1 week. Thus, Poncirus trifoliata seedlings freeze-acclimate significantly after only 6 hours at 10 °C.

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Wenjing Pang, John E. Luc, William T. Crow, Kevin E. Kenworthy, Robert McSorley, and Robin M. Giblin-Davis

Breeding and improvement of new bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) cultivars with superior nematode tolerance are essential because sting nematode (Belonolaimus longicaudatus Rau) is a major limitation for use of bermudagrass in the sandy coastal soils of the southeastern United States. The screening of both African (Cynodon transvaalensis) and common (C. dactylon) bermudagrass is necessary to develop triploid hybrid cultivars. Five commercial cultivars and 46 germplasm accessions of bermudagrass were tested for nematode responses in two greenhouse trials in 2009. Turfgrass was grown in sand-filled plastic conetainers and inoculated with 50 sting nematodes per conetainer. Nematode and root samples were collected 90 d after nematode inoculation. Fifteen bermudagrass accessions did not have measurable root loss from inoculation with sting nematode. Seven bermudagrass accessions, including ‘Celebration’, produced longer roots in sting nematode-infested soil than the standard ‘Tifway’. Differences in final nematode numbers were identified among the genotypes, and different relative responses were identified in variable ploidy levels and origins. This could aid a turfgrass breeding program by elucidating the genetic diversity available for breeding future bermudagrass cultivars for golf course cultivation.

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Desmond G. Mortley, Conrad K. Bonsi, Walter A. Hill, Carlton E. Morris, Carol S. Williams, Ceyla F. Davis, John W. Williams, Lanfang H. Levine, Barbara V. Petersen, and Raymond M. Wheeler

Because sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] stem cuttings regenerate very easily and quickly, a study of their early growth and development in microgravity could be useful to an understanding of morphological changes that might occur under such conditions for crops that are propagated vegetatively. An experiment was conducted aboard a U.S. Space Shuttle to investigate the impact of microgravity on root growth, distribution of amyloplasts in the root cells, and on the concentration of soluble sugars and starch in the stems of sweetpotatoes. Twelve stem cuttings of ‘Whatley/Loretan’ sweetpotato (5 cm long) with three to four nodes were grown in each of two plant growth units filled with a nutrient agarose medium impregnated with a half-strength Hoagland solution. One plant growth unit was flown on Space Shuttle Columbia for 5 days, whereas the other remained on the ground as a control. The cuttings were received within 2 h postflight and, along with ground controls, processed in ≈45 min. Adventitious roots were counted, measured, and fixed for electron microscopy and stems frozen for starch and sugar assays. Air samples were collected from the headspace of each plant growth unit for postflight determination of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and ethylene levels. All stem cuttings produced adventitious roots and growth was quite vigorous in both ground-based and flight samples and, except for a slight browning of some root tips in the flight samples, all stem cuttings appeared normal. The roots on the flight cuttings tended to grow in random directions. Also, stem cuttings grown in microgravity had more roots and greater total root length than ground-based controls. Amyloplasts in root cap cells of ground-based controls were evenly sedimented toward one end compared with a more random distribution in the flight samples. The concentration of soluble sugars, glucose, fructose, and sucrose and total starch concentration were all substantially greater in the stems of flight samples than those found in the ground-based samples. Carbon dioxide levels were 50% greater and oxygen marginally lower in the flight plants, whereas ethylene levels were similar and averaged less than 10 nL·L−1. Despite the greater accumulation of carbohydrates in the stems, and greater root growth in the flight cuttings, overall results showed minimal differences in cell development between space flight and ground-based tissues. This suggests that the space flight environment did not adversely impact sweetpotato metabolism and that vegetative cuttings should be an acceptable approach for propagating sweetpotato plants for space applications.