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Wei Zheng, Xiao-dan Xu, Kai-Ge Zhao and Longqing Chen

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Kai-Ge Zhao, Ming-Qin Zhou, Long-Qing Chen, Donglin Zhang and Gituru Wahiti Robert

Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) is endemic to China. It has been cultivated there for more than 1000 years as a garden, potted, and cut-flower plant. Many cultivars have been developed during its long history of cultivation, and recently many germplasms were collected in Wuhan and Nanjing, China. The identification and genetic relationship of these resources were studied based mainly on morphological traits. In the current study, intersimple sequence repeat markers (ISSR) and random amplified polymorphic DNA markers (RAPD) were used for the first time to investigate 72 wintersweet clones from the two regions. Eleven ISSR primers amplified 115 bands, 90 (78.26%) of which were polymorphic. Nineteen RAPD primers amplified 165 bands, 105 (63.63%) of which were polymorphic. Either ISSR or RAPD markers were sufficient to distinguish all the clones surveyed. A Dendrogram based on Jaccard's similarity coefficients indicated that the distribution pattern of the 72 clones was coherent with their geographical origins. Most of the genetic variation (85.68% with ISSR data; 86.75% with RAPD data) occurred among clones within each region. However, the difference between Wuhan and Nanjing groups is statistically significant (ΦST = 0.143, P < 0.001, with ISSR data; ΦST = 0.132, P < 0.001, with RAPD data). Morphological variation and classification of wintersweet cultivars were also discussed compared with the genetic relationship based on ISSR and RAPD markers. This is the first report of the partitioning of genetic variability within and between different cultivated wintersweet regions, and it provides useful baseline data for optimizing sampling strategies in breeding. These results are important for future genetic improvement, identification, and conservation of Chimonanthus praecox germplasm.

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Kai Zhao, Feng Zhang, Yi Yang, Yue Ma, Yuexue Liu, He Li, Hongyan Dai and Zhihong Zhang

GA20-oxidase (GA20-ox) is a key enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of gibberellic acid (GA). To investigate its role in plant growth and development, we suppressed MdGA20-ox gene expression in apple (Malus domestica cv. Hanfu) plants by RNA interference (RNAi). After 20 weeks of growth in the greenhouse, significant phenotype differences were observed between transgenic lines and the nontransgenic control. Suppression of MdGA20-ox gene expression resulted in lower plant height, shorter internode length, and higher number of nodes compared with the nontransgenic control. The expression of MdGA20-ox in transgenic plants was significantly suppressed, and the active GA content in transgenic lines was lower than that in the nontransgenic control. These results demonstrated that the MdGA20-ox gene plays an important role in vegetative growth, and therefore it is possible to develop dwarfed or compact scion apple cultivars by MdGA20-ox gene silencing.

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Shugang Zhao, Jiamin Niu, Linying Yun, Kai Liu, Shuang Wang, Jing Wen, Hongxia Wang and ZhiHua Zhang

The role of the walnut (Juglans regia L.) shell in nut development, transportation, cleaning, and storage is often ignored. The shell suture seal and thickness are directly associated with kernel characteristics. In the present study, shell differentiation and microstructure were observed with an optical microscope using paraffin-sectioning and cryosectioning. The results showed that the parenchymal cells of the endocarp began to differentiate into sclerenchymal cells from 49 d after flowering (DAF), and the entire process continued until fruit maturation. The mature shell consists of three parts, including the sclereid layer (L1), sclerenchymal cell layer (L2), and shrunken cell layer (L3), from the outside to the inside. The shell thickness, suture seal grade, and mechanical strength were evaluated, as well as the lignin, cellulose, and phenolic compounds of the shell. Suture seal grade was positively correlated with lignin content, shell thickness, and L1 thickness and negatively correlated with shell cell diameter. Similarly, the mechanical strength of the shell was positively correlated with lignin content and L1 thickness. ‘Qingxing’ fruits were subjected to two treatments, namely, 30% shading and 70% shading, from 10 d after anthesis to maturity, with no shading used as control. After harvesting in September, nutshell sections showed thinner shells, with decreased contents of lignin and polyphenols, obtained under shaded conditions, and two of the three parts of the shell changed dramatically. The thinning of L1 and thickening of L3 eventually led to a thinner shell. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship among the shell structure, cellular components, and physical properties and provide a theoretical basis for cultivar breeding, rational planting density, and regulation of shell development.

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Lingxia Zhao, Chengxiang Qiu, Jingfu Li, Yourong Chai, Guoyin Kai, Zhugang Li, Xiaofen Sun and K.X. Tang

Solanum lycopersicoides is a valuable genetic resource for tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) genetic improvement. However, there are few reports on its agronomic traits such as disease resistance and cold tolerance. In this paper, the resistance to cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and leaf mold (Cladosporium fulvum Cooke) and cold tolerance of five lines of S. lycopersicoides were studied through investigation of disease inoculation and electrolyte leakage analysis. The results showed that S. lycopersicoides was highly resistant or immune to CMV and leaf mold and more tolerant to low temperature than L. esculentum. This study is helpful for the genetic improvement of tomato by using S. lycopersicoides as breeding materials.