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Leonardo Lombardini

Twenty-five-year-old `Cape Fear', `Desirable', and `Kiowa' pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees were either not pruned, or subjected to single selective or mechanical pruning using a mechanical hedger [or hedge pruning (HP)] in the dormant season 2003. Canopy light interception, yield, and nut quality were monitored during a period of three years. Leaf area index and light interception were significantly affected during the first growing season after treatment application, but after three years canopies grew back to control levels. In general, there were small positive effects observed on yield and nut quality after pruning. Minor improvements were recorded for `Desirable', in which yield was affected positively by both pruning strategies in 2004. However, most effects disappeared by the third year. `Desirable' responded better than `Cape Fear', whereas no beneficial effects were recorded on `Kiowa'. In 2005, yield was significantly reduced in HP trees of `Cape Fear' and `Kiowa'. Alternate bearing index was unaffected by pruning treatment or cultivar. Kernel percentage increased only in HP `Desirable' trees in 2003 and 2004. Kernel quality was improved in HP `Cape Fear' and `Desirable' in the first growing season after treatment application, but not in 2004. In 2005, quality was again improved in HP `Desirable'. The results of the current study indicate that one-time pruning of pecan trees induce positive short-term effect on light, but not necessarily an increase in productivity and nut quality.

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Madhulika Sagaram and Leonardo Lombardini

Pecan is a riparian species distributed over an area of geographic and climatic variation; such a wide distribution produces exposure to varied environmental conditions, providing a potential for genetic adaptation within the cultivars. Genotypes can be screened in order to obtain more drought tolerant cultivars using indirect screening parameters (chlorophyll fluorescence, osmotic adjustment, and abscisic acid assay) based on physiological responses of plants to abiotic stress conditions. A study was established at Texas A&M University, College Station, using a mixture of fritted clay (Quick dry) and pure sand in 1:1 (by weight) ratio to study the effects of drought on pecan rootstocks. The experiment was set up with the three water potential levels as treatments (–0.033 MPa, –0.1 MPa, –0.3 MPa) in a randomized complete-block design with three blocks. Measurements will include leaf water relations (relative water content, leaf water potential, osmotic adjustments, etc.), gas exchange parameters [net carbon dioxide assimilation rate (A), transpiration rate (E), stomatal conductance (gs)], chlorophyll fluorescence measurements [minimum (Fo), maximum (Fm), and variable fluorescence (Fv), quantum efficiency], water use efficiency, and abscisic acid assay on roots. Statistical analysis systems (SAS) package will be used for analysis. PROC GLM of the SAS will be used for statistical analysis of study involving plant response to water potential levels.

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Terri Starman and Leonardo Lombardini

A study was conducted to characterize the morphological and physiological responses of four herbaceous perennial species subjected to two subsequent drought cycles. Lantana camara L. `New Gold' (lantana), Lobelia cardinalis L. (cardinal flower), Salvia farinacea Benth. `Henry Duelberg' (mealy sage), and Scaevola aemula R. Br. `New Wonder' (fan flower) were subjected to two consecutive 10-day drought cycles. Growth response, leaf gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence were measured during the experiment. The morphology of L. cardinalis and L. camara was not affected by drought, while S. farinacea had reductions in plant height and leaf area and S. aemula had reductions in dry weight. Overall, plant growth and development continued even when substrate water content was reduced to 0.13 mm3·mm-3, which indicated a level of substrate water below container capacity was sufficient for greenhouse production of these species. The drought treatments had little effect on the photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) of Photosystem II. An increase in minimal fluorescence (Fo) was observed in S. aemula on the last day of the second cycle. Drought treatment caused increased leaf-level water use efficiency (WUE) at the end of the first cycle in L. cardinalis and S. aemula, but not in L. camara and S. farinacea. Plants of L. camara, S. farinacea, and S. aemula that had received drought during both cycles became more water use efficient by the end of the second cycle, but L. cardinalis did not.

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Byron Taylor Whisnant and Leonardo Lombardini

Pecan tree pruning is a standard cultural practice in commercial pecan farming operations. Pruning often promotes canopy light infiltration, air movement, and crop load management. Timing of pecan tree pruning is often during winter for labor and time management purposes, yet the most effective pruning time is not known for pecan. `Pawnee' trees were pruned during March (winter), May, June, July and August in a commercial orchard in Charlie, Texas during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons. June pruning produced the greatest two year summed annual average yield (2447.7 kernel lb/acre), largest increase of kernel lb/acre (625%) and largest increase percent kernel (113%) between 2003 and 2004. Furthermore, June produced the largest nuts (39.8 nuts/lb) with the lowest yield (337.5 kernel lbs/acre) in 2003, and smallest nuts (59.4 nuts/lb) with the highest yield (2110.2 kernel lb/acre) in 2004. March pruning produced the least variable yield of kernel lb/acre (38% decrease) between 2003 and 2004. July pruning produced the most consistent percent kernel (1.3% increase) between 2003 and 2004. August pruning produced the lowest two year summed annual average yield (879.8 kernel lbs/acre). Percent light transmission and leaf area index data showed no correlation with pruning times and kernel yields. Data collection will continue for another 2 to 3 years to asses the continuous affects of varied pruning times.

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Leonardo Lombardini, Moreno Toselli and James A. Flore

Instrumentation to measure soil respiration is currently readily available. However, the relationship between soil respiration and root activity or root mass is not known. Herein we report on preliminary result using a 13CO2 pulse to the foliage to determine if 13C respiration can be related to either root activity or root mass. An experiment was performed in the field on a 5-year-old apple tree (cv. Jonagold on M7). The tree canopy was enclosed in a Mylar® balloon and 2.1 g 13CO2 were pulsed in the balloon for 1 hr. After the pulse, air emitted by the soil and selected roots was collected every 6 hr for 8 days, by bubbling it in 2 M NaOH. 13C/12C ratios were measured with the mass spectrometer. The emission of 13CO2 from the roots gradually increased after the pulse reaching a peak after 100 hr. The emission trend was not linear, but it seemed related to soil temperature. Leaves and fruit were also collected daily. 13C content in leaves was 1.15% right after the pulse, but it progressively decreased to 1.09% at the end of the experiment. The experiment was then repeated on 12 potted apple trees (cv. Redcort on M7) in greenhouse conditions. Six of them were maintained well-watered, whereas six plants were subjected to a mild water stress, by watering them with half of the volume of water used for well-watered plants. After the two soil moisture levels were achieved, the tree canopies of all the 12 trees were pulsed. Leaves, stems, and roots were ground and run in the mass spectrometer. The results of root emission rate were found to be similar to the field experiment. Results also indicated that, in our experiment, stress did not affect root respiration rate. Specific details of the physiology data will be presented.

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Madhulika Sagaram, Leonardo Lombardini and L.J. Grauke

Leaf anatomical traits of Mexican and U.S. pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] seedstocks grown in a single location were studied to determine patterns of ecogeographic variation within the natural range. Stomatal density was uniform among open-pollinated seedlings of a common maternal parent with twofold differences in stomatal density separating some seedstocks. There was an inverse relationship between stomatal density and epidermal cell density. Stomatal density and stomatal index of Mexican seedstocks were related to longitude and annual precipitation of origin. Stomatal density increased along the longitudinal gradient toward the east coast of Mexico; seedstocks originating from areas on the east coast of Mexico had greater stomatal density than seedstocks originating from the drier areas on the west coast. Stomatal density and stomatal index did not follow a pattern along latitude or longitude in the U.S. seedstocks. Although isotopic carbon (13C) discrimination did not vary greatly in Mexican seedstocks, the reduction in stomatal density in pecan trees from areas with reduced annual precipitation suggest the presence of an anatomical feature to reduce water losses.

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Riccardo Gucci, Leonardo Lombardini and Massimiliano Tattini

Water relation parameters were calculated from analysis of 92 pressure-volume isotherms of leaves of two olive varieties, `Leccino' and `Frantoio', measured after 4 weeks of salinity stress and 4 weeks of subsequent relief either in hydroponics or soil culture. `Frantoio' was more salt-tolerant than `Leccino', but no major differences in water relation parameters emerged between the two varieties. Increasing salinity from 0 to 200 mM NaCl decreased predawn leaf water potential from –0.5 MPa to –1.3 MPa, relative water content (RWC) from 97.6% to 89%, and leaf osmotic potential (Ψπ) from –2.0 to –3.5 MPa. Relative water content at turgor loss point (RWCtlp) was decreased from 89% to 85% (soil culture) and from 86% to 80% (hydroponic culture) in 0 to 200 mM CaCl-treated plants, respectively; a lower RWCtlp was also retained during the relief from salinity. Active osmotic adjustments induced by salinity was the result of accumulation of both inorganic ions and compatible solutes (e.g., mannitol). Maintenance of lower Ψπ and RWCtlp during relief indicated that salinized plants were better adapted to withstand further stress and that this potential might be exploited to harden olive plants to be used in arid or saline environments.

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Madhulika Sagaram, Leonardo Lombardini and L.J. Grauke

An assessment of leaf anatomic traits of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] cultivars (Pawnee, Mohawk, and Starking Hardy Giant) collected from three locations (Tifton, GA; Chetopa, KS; and Stillwater, OK) was conducted to provide an understanding of patterns of ecogeographical variation within the natural range. Acetate casts of representative leaves were prepared for microscopic characterization of epidermal traits (stomatal density, stomatal index, and epidermal cell density). There were differences among the three pecan cultivars at the same location, but there were no differences in stomatal density within the same cultivar grown at three distinct locations. The stomatal density of ‘Pawnee’ leaves (404 stomata/mm2) was intermediate between that of ‘Mohawk’ (363 stomata/mm2) and ‘Starking Hardy Giant’ (463 stomata/mm2). ‘Pawnee’ had the greatest epidermal cell density (2511 cells/mm2) whereas ‘Starking Hardy Giant’ showed the least (1414 cells/mm2). Within a location, stomatal index differed significantly among cultivars, with ‘Starking Hardy Giant’ having a greater stomatal index than the other two cultivars. There were no differences in stomatal index across locations. ‘Mohawk’ had the greatest trichome density (18.92 trichomes/mm2) whereas ‘Starking Hardy Giant’ had the lowest (9.6 trichomes/mm2). The study suggests that differences in stomatal density and epidermal cell density in pecans are cultivar specific rather than being determined by environmental factors. The stability of certain leaf anatomic characteristics, such as stomatal and epidermal cell density, for pecan cultivars grown at different locations confirms that these traits can be used for screening provenances with desirable leaf anatomic characteristics for breeding and cultivar development.

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Leonardo Lombardini, Hermann Restrepo-Diaz and Astrid Volder

An experiment was conducted to investigate the morphologic characteristics and photosynthetic response of sun and shade leaves of mature pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees. Treatments were established according to leaf type (sun or shade leaves) and cultivar (Pawnee and Stuart). Sun leaves were chosen from those growing on exterior portions of the tree canopy and exposed to full sunlight for most of the day [≥1500 μmol·m−2·s−1 photosynthetic photon flux (PPF)]. Shade leaves were those growing in interior parts of the tree canopy (≤100 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPF). Epidermis characteristics, leaf area, and chlorophyll (Chl) content were also measured. Results indicated that stomatal density (stomata/mm2), leaf area, and leaflet area were greater in sun leaves than in shade leaves in both cultivars investigated. Specific leaf area was greater in shade leaves than sun leaves. Chlorophyll fluorescence, total Chl content, Chl a, Chl b, and Chl a/b were unaffected by leaf type or cultivar. In both cultivars, photosynthetic light response curves showed that area-based maximum assimilation rate (Amax) in shade leaves was about half of that measured in sun leaves in June through August. However, in October, Amax of sun leaves dropped to values similar to those measured in shade leaves. Light compensation point of photosynthesis and dark respiration rate were always lower in shade leaves than in sun leaves. Overall, there were only minor differences between the cultivars. Pecan trees require careful canopy management to avoid self shading and to maintain productivity. These results could help determine optimal levels of canopy light interception and could be used to develop canopy and crop management practices.

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Madhulika Sagaram, Leonardo Lombardini and Larry Grauke

An assessment of anatomical traits of pecan cultivars (`Pawnee', `Mohawk', and `Starking hardy giant') collected from three locations (Tifton, Ga.; Chetopa, Kans.; and Stillwater, Okla.) was conducted at Texas A&M University. The objective of the study was to provide an understanding of patterns of geographic variation within the natural range for anatomical (stomatal density, stomatal index, and epidermal cell density) traits. Microscopy using acetate casts was used as the means to investigate the patterns of variation in the epidermal characteristics of pecan leaf. `Starking hardy giant' had the greatest number of stomates/cm2 (46,229, 47,807, and 45,990 at Tifton, Chetopa, and Stillwater, respectively) while `Mohawk' had the least (37,397, 36,217, and 35,305). `Pawnee' had the greatest number of epidermal cells/cm2 (251,806, 250,098 and 254,883 at Tifton, Chetopa, and Stillwater, respectively) while `Starking hardy giant' had the least (141,699, 138,405, and 142,155). Differences in stomatal index were observed between the three cultivars at Tifton and Stillwater. No differences in stomatal index were observed between `Pawnee' and `Mohawk' at Chetopa. The study showed that stomatal density as well as epidermal cell density of all the tested cultivars were significantly different (P < 0.05) at a particular location but no differences were observed in a given cultivar grown at different locations.