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Shichao Wang, Zhujun Chen, Jun Man, and Jianbin Zhou

In China, greenhouse soils often receive large rates of different manures and have a high content of soil organic matter (SOM). Understanding changes in nitrogen (N) mineralization in soils of newly built greenhouses after their construction is important for managing N. Soil samples were obtained from solar greenhouses of different ages (0, 1, 2, and 3 years) located in the south edge of the Loess Plateau, China, at 0- to 20- and 20- to 40-cm depth. N mineralization in the soils was measured with the Stanford and Smith long-term aerobic incubation method over 30 weeks. SOM, total N, and the mineralized N in the 0- to 20-cm and 20- to 40-cm soil layers were significantly increased in the older greenhouses. The cumulative mineralized N in the 0- to 20-cm soil layer in different cultivation years was increased in each year since the greenhouses were established. For the greenhouses with the same age, the cumulative mineralized N in the 0- to 20-cm soil layer was greater than that in the 20- to 40-cm layer. The potentially mineralizable N (N0) both in the 0- to 20-cm and the 20- to 40-cm soil layers increased with the greenhouses’ age. Regression analysis indicated that when SOM increased 1 g·kg−1, N0 in the 0- to 20-cm and 20- to 40-cm depth increased 22.6 and 8.4 mg·kg−1, respectively. Therefore, as the N supply in soil increases with the age of the solar greenhouse, we suggest that the application rates of manure and synthetic fertilizer be reduced.

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Jun Yuan, Liyuan Huang, Naifu Zhou, Hui Wang, and Genhua Niu

Aluminum (Al) toxicity and phosphorus (P) deficiency are two crucial factors limiting the production of Camellia oleifera, which is grown commercially in red acidic soils in Southern China. The current study characterized the different forms of P and Al in the red acidic soils of C. oleifera plantations. Soil and plant tissue samples taken from 32 Camellia plantations across Hunan province were analyzed. Furthermore, a pot experiment with nutrient solutions of different Al and P contents was carried out to investigate P and Al uptake and their effect on C. oleifera growth. The results showed that the P content extracted by NaOH (Fe-P) was the highest in all types of soil samples (rhizosphere, 0–20 cm, and 20–40 cm zones), followed by P extracted by NH4F (Al-P), H2SO4 (Ca-P), and Na3C6H5O7 (O-P). HCl (In-Al), NH4Ac (Ha-Al), and Na4P2O7·10H2O (Or-Al) extracted Al were the main forms and accounted for 22.8%, 23.1%, and 23.8% of total Al, respectively. KCl extracted Al (Ex-Al) contents in the rhizosphere, 0–20 cm, and 20–40 cm soil zones were 4.78, 4.86, and 4.59 mg·kg−1, respectively. P contents in roots, young leaves, and old leaves were 0.80, 0.82, and 0.64 mg·kg−1, respectively. The highest Al content of 11.35 g·kg−1 was found in the old leaves, followed by roots and young leaves. Correlation analyses revealed that P in roots was positively associated with available P (AP) and Al-P in rhizosphere. P in roots and young leaves also had a positive correlation with Ex-Al, whereas Al in old leaves was positively correlated with In-Al and total Al. Significant correlations between Al-P, Ex-Al, and AP were detected. The pot experiment indicated that adding Al or P alone increased plant growth and Al or P uptake, respectively. When adding both Al and P, significant synergistic effect was found. These results suggest that Al is beneficial to C. oleifera, which may be the adaptive mechanism of C. oleifera to use insoluble Al-P in red acidic soil.

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Wei Zhou, Hong Wang, De-Zhu Li, Jun-Bo Yang, and Wei Zhou

Luculia pinceana Hook. (Rubiaceae) is a typical distylous species with dimorphic and long-styled monomorphic populations. Within this study, we developed 13 microsatellite markers from L. pinceana using a modified biotin–streptavidin capture method. Polymorphism of each locus was assessed in 30 individuals from four dimorphic populations and one monomorphic population. The average allele number of these microsatellites was 4.153 per locus ranging from three to seven. The observed and expected heterozygosities were from 0.040 to 0.840 and from 0.571 to 0.769, respectively. Additionally, all 13 identified microsatellite markers were successfully amplified in its related species, L. yunnanensis, 10 of which showed polymorphism. These microsatellite markers could provide a useful tool for further study of the breeding system and the population genetic structure in this species and within other Luculia species.

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Jing Mao, Hongliang Xu, Caixia Guo, Jun Tong, Yanfang Dong, Dongyun Xu, Fazhi Chen, and Yuan Zhou

Although tolerance to high temperature is crucial to the summer survival of Iris germanica cultivars in subtropical areas, few physiological studies have been conducted on this topic previously. To remedy this, this study explored the physiological response and expression of heat shock factor in four I. germanica cultivars with varying levels of thermotolerance. The plants’ respective degrees of high-temperature tolerance were evaluated by measuring the ratio and area of withered leaves under stress. Several physiological responses to high temperatures were investigated, including effects on chlorophyll, antioxidant enzymes, proline, and soluble protein content in the leaves of four cultivars. CaCl2 was sprayed on ‘Gold Boy’ and ‘Royal Crusades’ considered being sensitive to high temperatures to study if Ca2+ could improve the tolerance, and LaCl3 was sprayed on ‘Music Box’ and ‘Galamadrid’ with better high-temperature tolerance to test if calcium ion blocker could decrease their tolerance. Heat shock factor genes were partially cloned according to the conserved region sequence, and expression changes to high-temperature stress with CaCl2 or LaCl3 treatments were thoroughly analyzed. Results showed that high temperature is the primary reason for large areas of leaf withering. The ratio and area of withered leaves on ‘Music Box’ and ‘Galamadrid’ were smaller than ‘Gold Boy’ and ‘Royal Crusades’. CaCl2 slowed the degradation of chlorophyll content and increased proline and soluble protein in ‘Gold Boy’ and ‘Royal Crusades’ but had no significant effect on activating peroxidase or superoxide to improve high-temperature tolerance. Genetic expression of heat shock factor in ‘Gold Boy’ and ‘Royal Crusades’ was upregulated by Ca2+ at later stages of leaf damage under high-temperature stress. LaCl3 down-regulated the physiological parameters and expression level of heat shock factor in ‘Music Box’ and ‘Galamadrid’. These results suggest that different I. germanica cultivars have varying high-temperature tolerance and furthermore that Ca2+ regulates their physiological indicators and expression level of heat shock factor under stress.

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Waltram Ravelombola, Ainong Shi, Jun Qin, Yuejin Weng, Gehendra Bhattarai, Bazgha Zia, Wei Zhou, and Beiquan Mou

Impacts of drought stress on crop production can significantly impair farmer’s revenue, hence adversely impacting the gross national product growth. For cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.], which is a legume of economic importance, effects of drought at early vegetative growth could lead to substantial yield losses. However, little has been done with respect to breeding for cowpea cultivars withstanding drought at early vegetative growth. In addition, previous investigations have focused on how plant morphology and root architecture can confer drought tolerance in cowpea, which is not sufficient in efforts to unravel unknown drought tolerance–related genetic mechanisms, potentially of great importance in breeding, and not pertaining to either plant morphology or root architecture. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate aboveground drought-related traits of cowpea genotypes at seedling stage. A total of 30 cowpea genotypes were greenhouse grown within boxes and the experimental design was completely randomized with three replicates. Drought stress was imposed for 28 days. Data on a total of 17 aboveground-related traits were collected. Results showed the following: 1) a large variation in these traits was found among the genotypes; 2) more trifoliate wilt/chlorosis tolerance but more unifoliate wilt/chlorosis susceptible were observed; 3) delayed senescence was related to the ability of maintaining a balanced chlorophyll content in both unifoliate and trifoliate leaves; and 4) the genotypes PI293469, PI349674, and PI293568 were found to be slow wilting and drought tolerant. These results could contribute to advancing breeding programs for drought tolerance in cowpea.

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Haishan An, Jiajia Meng, Fangjie Xu, Shuang Jiang, Xiaoqing Wang, Chunhui Shi, Boqiang Zhou, Jun Luo, and Xueying Zhang

Vegetative propagation by cuttings is a very popular method. However, blueberry propagation using cuttings is still a main factor limiting its expansion because its results can vary according to the blueberry cultivar and environmental factors. This study aimed to evaluate the rooting abilities of hardwood cuttings for six blueberry cultivars (O’Neal, Misty, Diana, Biloxi, Bluebeauty, and Coville) using three different exogenous indole-butyric acid (IBA) concentrations (1000, 2000, and 3000 ppm), and to determine if the cutting position (basal, central, apical) affects rooting performance. A control treatment (0 ppm IBA) was also performed. After 90 days of each treatment, rooting percentage, average root length, and average root number per cutting were assessed and used to calculate rooting index, which is a measure of rooting ability. The rooting percentages of hardwood cuttings differed largely among cultivars and were highest for ‘Bluebeauty’ (68.55%), followed by ‘Biloxi’ (68.01%). The rooting index values of these two cultivars (33.59 and 35.18, respectively) were significantly higher than those of the other four cultivars. The rooting response of blueberry hardwood cuttings to IBA concentrations was quadratic, and 1000 and 2000 ppm IBA were sufficient to express the maximum rooting percentage in most cultivars. The rooting abilities of basal, central, and apical cuttings were similar with treatments with high IBA concentrations. The effects of the cultivar, IBA concentration, and interaction between them on rooting percentage, average root length, and average root number were significant; however, the effects of the cutting position on the rooting percentage and average root length were not. This suggested that the rooting abilities of blueberry hardwood cuttings were significantly influenced by the cultivar and IBA concentration rather than by the cutting position.

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Bin Cai, Cheng-Hui Li, Ai-Sheng Xiong, Ri-He Peng, Jun Zhou, Feng Gao, Zhen Zhang, and Quan-Hong Yao

The database of grape transcription factors (DGTF) is a plant transcription factor (TF) database comprehensively collecting and annotating grape (Vitis L.) TF. The DGTF contains 1423 putative grape TF in 57 families. These TF were identified from the predicted wine grape (Vitis vinifera L.) proteins from the grape genome sequencing project by means of a domain search. The DGTF provides detailed annotations for individual members of each TF family, including sequence feature, domain architecture, expression information, and orthologs in other plants. Cross-links to other public databases make its annotations more extensive. In addition, some other transcriptional regulators were also included in the DGTF. It contains 202 transcriptional regulators in 10 families.

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Jun Li, Zhongyue Lu, Hamza Elkhouchlaa, Jiaquan Lin, Can Li, Hao Wang, and Zhou Yang

The method of returning banana (Musa nana) pseudostems to the field can effectively maintain and improve the level of organic matter in the soil. In this article, we show that a small vertical-type banana pseudostem chopper can be used in banana plantations that do not need to be replanted. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship among the blade type, cutting force, and cutting power. The effects of the blade roll angles, pitch angles, and feeding angles on the crushing qualification rate and crushing efficiency were obtained by comparing the decomposition characteristics of a banana pseudostem before and after crushing. The results showed that the arc-shaped blade exhibited the smallest cutting force and cutting power consumption. The maximum crush qualification rate and crush efficiency were obtained when the roll angle was 12°, the pitch angle was −5°, and the feeding angle was 5°. The weight reduction rate and average decomposition rate of the crushed pseudostem were 2.73 and 3.61 times greater than those of natural decomposition, respectively. The results can be used as a reference for the design and optimization of banana pseudostem choppers.

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Lingdi Dong, Waltram Ravelombola, Yuejin Weng, Jun Qin, Wei Zhou, Gehendra Bhattarai, Bazgha Zia, Wei Yang, Linqi Shi, Beiquan Mou, and Ainong Shi

Previous investigations showed that accumulations of Na+ and Cl in leaves resulted in reductions in chlorophyll content, thereby affecting photosynthesis. Understanding how chlorophyll content evolves over time will help plant breeders to select cowpea genotypes with better tolerance to salinity by allowing them to choose those with more stable chlorophyll content under salt stress. The objective of this study was to assess how the chlorophyll content of cowpea genotypes changed over the course of 24 d of salt stress at the seedling stage. A total of 24 cowpea genotypes with different salt responses were used in this study. The experiment used a split-plot design with salt treatment as the main plot and cowpea genotypes as the subplot. In the main plot, there were two salt treatments: 0 mm (ionized water) and 200 mm NaCl. In the subplot, the cowpea genotypes were arranged as a completely randomized design with three replicates per genotype. The results revealed that: a1) the time × genotype interaction was significant under conditions with and without salt; 2) chlorophyll content slowly decreased in the salt-tolerant genotypes; 3) chlorophyll content slightly increased on day 6 and day 9 of salt stress in both moderate and sensitive genotypes, but it decreased at a faster rate than in the salt-tolerant genotypes; and 4) salt-sensitive genotypes were completely dead on day 24 of salt stress, whereas the salt-tolerant genotypes were able to maintain a significant amount of chlorophyll content. These results can be used to advance breeding programs for salt tolerance in cowpea.