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L. Art Spomer, Sharon L. Knight and Mary Ann Lila Smith

Horticulture Research Methodology courses are an important if not essential introduction to research for beginning graduate students. Such courses are often characterized by presentation of a series of experimental techniques, lacking continuity and out of context with real-world research situations. In the described course, students gained expertise with a range of environmental and plant measurement techniques within the framework of a semester-long experiment. The experimental techniques were introduced and incorporated into the experiment at appropriate stages. Each student engaged in hands-on participation in development of a proposal; experimental set up, implementation, and daily maintenance; and data accumulation, analysis, and reporting (in HortScience manuscript format). In addition to direct experience with all subject techniques, each student had individual responsibility for characterization of a. selected plant (or environmental) parameter. This format successfully accomplished the provision of direct and coherent experience with a wide variety of important horticultural research techniques within a real-world setting.

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Rida Shibli, L. Art Spomer and Mary Ann Lila Smith

Osmotic adjustment in response to decreasing media water availability was observed for in vitro Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat. cultivars Bright Golden Anne, Deep Luv, and Lucido. Water stress was induced by increasing sorbitol (0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 M), mannitol (0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 M), and sucrose (30, 45, 60, 75, 90 g·l-1) concentrations in modified MS media (2 mg·l-1 BA and 0.1 mg·l-1 NAA). Osmotic adjustment was evidenced by a significant reduction in measured cell sap osmotic potential (R2 = 0.78, 0.96, 0.91 for sucrose, sorbitol, and mannitol respectively) in all cultivars. Shoot length, weighted density (apparent mass), and proliferation were significantly reduced by sorbitol and mannitol treatments. Sucrose reduced shoot proliferation, increased length, and had an inconsistent effect on weighted density. Cultures grown on media without hormones showed tremendous increase in root number up to 60 g·l-1 sucrose. Sorbitol had a negligible effect on rooting at 0.1 M but no roots developed at higher sorbitol concentrations or in any mannitol treatments. Plants transferred to a non-water-stress media after they had experienced in vitro water stress exhibited no change in osmotic properties from the stress treatments.

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Meredith R. Blumthal, L. Art Spomer, Daniel F. Warnock and Raymond A. Cloyd

Flower color preference of western flower thrips [WFT (Frankliniella occidentalis) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae)] was assessed by observing insect location after introduction into chambers containing four different colored flowers of each of three plant species: transvaal daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), matsumoto aster (Callistephus chinensis), and chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum). Preference was based on the number of WFT adults found on each flower 72 hours after infestation. Significantly higher numbers of WFT were found on yellow transvaal daisy and yellow chrysanthemum. When these accessions were compared in a subsequent experiment, WFT displayed a significant greater preference for the yellow transvaal daisy. Visible and near infrared reflectance spectra of the flowers used in the study were measured to determine the presence of distinct spectral features that would account for the relative attractiveness of the flowers. Likewise, the reflectance spectra of three commercially available sticky cards (blue, yellow, and yellow with a grid pattern) that are used to trap or sample for WFT were compared to those of the flowers to determine any shared spectral features that would support observed WFT flower color preference. The observed similarity between the yellow transvaal daisy and yellow sticky card reflectance spectra supports the hypothesis that flower color contributes to attractiveness of WFT. In particular, the wavelengths corresponding to green-yellow (500 to 600 nm) seem to be responsible for attracting WFT. These findings also indicate that yellow sticky cards may be more appropriate in sampling for WFT than blue sticky cards. Although further research is needed, under the conditions of this study, yellow transvaal daisy appears to be a potentially useful trap crop for WFT.