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Jennifer L. Waters and Stephen R. King

Carotenoids are important phytochemical components of our diet and have gained recent attention as important nutritive compounds found mainly in fruits and vegetables with red, orange, and yellow hues. Lycopene is often cited as being inversely correlated with the occurrence of various cancers, in lowering rates of cardiovascular disease, and improving other various other immune responses. Antioxidant activity, specifically oxidative radical quenching power, is the putative rationale for carotenoids' involvement in disease risk reduction. It is unlikely, however, that carotenoid content and antioxidant capacity are directly correlated in the whole food since there are other antioxidants present in watermelon, such as various free amino acids. A total measure of antioxidant potential may prove to be a useful tool for measuring watermelon nutritional value and implementing pursuant breeding goals. One assay that has gained recent popularity is the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay. ORAC includes two assays that separate lipophylic and hydrophilic antioxidants. Currently, most ORAC protocols use isolated compounds or freeze-dried fruit or vegetable samples. Here, the application of a standard hexane-type extraction method, which is more amenable to whole food carotenoid-containing samples, was investigated as a candidate extraction method for the ORAC assay. Variants of this method as well as of the standard ORAC extraction were compared for extraction efficiency. Finally, ORAC values were correlated with carotenoid content and shown to hold a loose negative correlation. Possible reasons for this are considered and discussed.

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Danny L. Barney, Omar A. Lopez and Elizabeth King

Two concentrations of two in vitro media formulations were evaluated for their effects on survival, shoot growth, and percentage rooting of cascade huckleberry (Vaccinium deliciosum), mountain huckleberry (V. membranaceum), and oval-leaf bilberry (V. ovalifolium). Two-node stem sections from established microshoots were cultured on full- or half-strength modified Murashige and Skoog medium (FSMS and HSMS) or full- or half-strength modified woody plant medium (FSWPM and HSWPM) unamended with plant growth regulators. Cultures were maintained at 21 °C with a 16-hour photoperiod for 98 days. Survival on FSMS was reduced by ≈44% for cascade huckleberry, 63% for mountain huckleberry, and 18% for oval-leaf bilberry compared with average survival on HSMS, HSWPM, and FSWPM. Explants on FSMS also produced new shoot growth having the lowest dry weights, fewest shoots, and shortest shoots of the four media. Explant rooting percentages were also least on FSMS. For cascade huckleberry and oval-leaf bilberry, HSMS, HSWPM, and FSWPM all appeared suitable for general culture. For mountain huckleberry, both woody plant medium formulations produced greater microshoot dry weights, average shoot lengths, and explant rooting percentages compared with HSMS. These results are the first published on micropropagation for cascade huckleberry and oval-leaf bilberry, and provide starting protocols for commercial propagation and further research on micropropagation of these species.

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H.M. Wallace, B.J. King and L.S. Lee

Pollen source is known to affect the fruit size and quality of 'Imperial' mandarin, but no study has determined the appropriate orchard design to maximize the beneficial effects of pollen source. We determined the parentage of seeds of 'Imperial' mandarin using the isozyme shikimate dehydrogenase to characterize pollen flow and the effect on fruit size in an orchard setting. Two blocks were examined: 1) a block near an 'Ellendale' pollinizer block; and 2) an isolated pure block planting. Fruit size and seed number were maximum at one and three rows from the pollinizer (P ≤ 0.05). Isozyme results were consistent with all seeds being the result of fertilization by the 'Ellendale' pollinizer. In the pure block planting, fruits in rows 5-11 inside the block were very small with no seeds. This indicates poor pollen flow resulting in a reduction in fruit quality for the pure block. These results emphasize the importance of pollinizers in orchard design, and bees in orchard management. They suggest that each row should be planted no more than three rows from the pollinizer to maximize the benefits of the pollen parent in self-incompatible cultivars such as 'Imperial'.

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Angela R. Davis, Charles L. Webber III, Wenge Liu, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Amnon Levi and Stephen King

High-quality, high-phytonutrient watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.), Matsum & Nakai] have strong market opportunities. To produce highly nutritious fruit in a seedless triploid market, the nature of phytonutrient accumulation as affected by ploidy must be understood. The present study performed on six field-grown watermelon diploid (2n) inbred lines, their induced autotetraploids (4n), and autotriploids (3n) determined the importance of ploidy on quality and nutritional content. Lycopene, total soluble solids (TSS), L-citrulline (hereafter referred to as citrulline), glutathione (GSH), weight, width, and length were measured in ripe fruit from one location. Our findings contradict some previous manuscripts, which did not use diploid inbred lines and their induced autoploidy relatives. Of the traits we analyzed that did not have a family-by-ploidy interaction (citrulline, GSH, weight, and width), we determined citrulline levels were not significantly affected by ploidy in five of six families nor was there a significant correlation when all family’s citrulline values were averaged. Previous studies on field-grown fruit that did not use autoploidy lines suggested triploid fruit had more citrulline than diploid fruit. GSH was higher in autotriploid than in diploid or autotetraploid (95.0 vs. 66.9 or 66.7 μg·g−1 GSH, respectively). Additionally, we found an association with higher GSH in larger fruit. Autotriploid fruit were, in general, heavier and wider than diploid and autotetraploid fruit, and autotetraploid fruit were generally smaller than diploid fruit. Of the traits we analyzed that had a family by ploidy interaction (lycopene, TSS, and length), we determined within four families, ploidy affected lycopene concentration, but whether this interaction is positive or negative was family-dependent. These data suggest the triploid state alone does not give fruit higher lycopene concentrations. The mean TSS was higher in autotetraploid than in autotriploid, which was again higher than in diploid fruit averaged across families (10.5%, 10.2%, and 9.5% TSS, respectively); there was a family × ploidy interaction so the significance of this increase is affected by the triploid’s parents. Lycopene and TSS had a slight positive correlation. Four of six families showed no statistical correlation between ploidy and length, and although mean length across family demonstrated smaller tetraploid fruit, the family-by-ploidy interaction demonstrates that this observation is family-dependent. Length and width correlate well with weight when combining data for all ploidy levels and when analyzing each ploidy separately. Length correlates more closely with width in autotriploid fruit than in diploid or autotetraploid fruit.

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Angela R. Davis, Charles L. Webber III, Wayne W. Fish, Todd C. Wehner, Stephen King and Penelope Perkins-Veazie

Producers of fresh fruits and vegetables face increasing production costs and international market competition. Growers who can offer high-quality watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai] that are also highly nutritious will have better market opportunities. To accomplish that, germplasm must be identified that has enhanced phytonutrient levels. Surprisingly, there is little information on the genetics of nutritional quality in watermelon. The present study was performed on 56 watermelon cultivars, breeding lines, and PI accessions (hereafter collectively referred to as cultigens) to determine the importance of genotype and environmental effects on L-citrulline concentration in fruit, an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure. Our results demonstrated that L-citrulline concentration was affected by environment and the amount of environmental effect varies among cultigens. The mean of fruit tested in Lane, OK, was 3.10 mg·g−1 fresh weight and in College Station, TX, it was 1.67 mg·g−1 fresh weight. All cultigens had a higher mean L-citrulline concentration when grown in Lane, OK, instead of College Station, TX. Additionally, the L-citrulline concentration varied considerably within cultigens; i.e., ‘Congo’ had a 1.26 to 7.21 mg·g−1 fresh sample deviation. The cultigen ‘AU-Jubilant’ had the most stable L-citrulline concentration (2.23 to 4.03 mg·g−1 fresh deviation) when tested from one location. Environment did not significantly increase within-genotype variation (average se of 10 cultigens tested at each location was ± 35.3% for College Station, TX, and ± 32.9% for Lane, OK). L-citrulline concentration did not correlate with watermelon type (open-pollinated or F1 hybrid) or flesh color (red, orange, salmon yellow, or white). Differences among cultigens for L-citrulline were large (1.09 to 4.52 mg·g−1 fresh sample). The cultigens with the highest L-citrulline concentration were ‘Tom Watson’, PI 306364, and ‘Jubilee’. These could be used to develop cultivars having a high concentration of L-citrulline.

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John D. Lea-Cox, William L. Bauerle, Marc W. van Iersel, George F. Kantor, Taryn L. Bauerle, Erik Lichtenberg, Dennis M. King and Lauren Crawford

Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) transmit sensor data and control signals over long distances without the need for expensive infrastructure, allowing WSNs to add value to existing irrigation systems since they provide the grower with direct feedback on the water needs of the crop. We implemented WSNs in nine commercial horticulture operations. We provide an overview of the integration of sensors with hardware and software to form WSNs that can monitor and control irrigation water applications based on one of two approaches: 1) “set-point control” based on substrate moisture measurements or 2) “model-based control” that applied species-specific irrigation in response to transpiration estimates. We summarize the economic benefits, current and future challenges, and support issues we currently face for scaling WSNs to entire production sites. The series of papers that follow either directly describe or refer the reader to descriptions of the findings we have made to date. Together, they illustrate that WSNs have been successfully implemented in horticultural operations to greatly reduce water use, with direct economic benefits to growers.

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J.P. Mueller, M. E. Barbercheck, M. Bell, C. Brownie, N.G. Creamer, A. Hitt, S. Hu, L. King, H.M. Linker, F.J. Louws, S. Marlow, M. Marra, C.W. Raczkowski, D.J. Susko and M.G. Wagger

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is dedicated to farming systems that are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. Established in 1994 at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS) Cherry Farm near Goldsboro, N.C.; CEFS operations extend over a land area of about 800 ha (2000 acres) [400 ha (1000 acres) cleared]. This unique center is a partnership among North Carolina State University (NCSU), North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University (NCATSU), NCDACS, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), other state and federal agencies, farmers and citizens. Long-term approaches that integrate the broad range of factors involved in agricultural systems are the focus of the Farming Systems Research Unit. The goal is to provide the empirical framework to address landscape-scale issues that impact long-run sustainability of North Carolina's agriculture. To this end, data collection and analyses include soil parameters (biological, chemical, physical), pests and predators (weeds, insects and disease), crop factors (growth, yield, and quality), economic factors, and energy issues. Five systems are being compared: a successional ecosystem, a plantation forestry-woodlot, an integrated crop-animal production system, an organic production system, and a cash-grain [best management practice (BMP)] cropping system. An interdisciplinary team of scientistsfrom the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU and NCATSU, along with individuals from the NCDACS, NGO representatives, and farmers are collaborating in this endeavor. Experimental design and protocol are discussed, in addition to challenges and opportunities in designing and implementing long-term farming systems trials.