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Li Jiang, Yun-wen Wang and Bruce L. Dunn

Hybridization at intraspecific, interspecific, and intergeneric levels is a well-known breeding strategy to create variations with desirable traits for ornamental flowers. A total of 161 crossing combinations were made on three taxonomic levels, including 12 intraspecific crossing combinations within L. chalcedonica and L. ×haageana, 102 interspecific crossing combinations within Lychnis spp., and 47 intergeneric crossing combinations between Lychnis spp. and Silene spp. Intraspecific crosses showed high cross-compatibility, which yielded mature seeds and progeny plants. Most of the interspecific crossings in genus Lychnis produced limited seed set and germination percentages; however, L. cognate, L . ×arkwrightii, and L. ×haageana showed high cross-compatibility and might be more closely related than other species in Lychnis. As a result of cross-incompatibility, crossing combinations between Lychnis spp. and Silene spp. produced few flowers that set seeds. Significant differences occurred in seed set between crossing combinations and their reciprocal crosses for interspecific and intergeneric crosses. For these hybrids with immature seeds, embryo rescue techniques with immature seed culture would be the only way to produce seedlings.

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Xiaogang Li, Ling Jin, Zhongchun Jiang*, Nianjun Teng and Baolong Sheng

The freezing method combined with enzymolysis was used to determine the content of stone cells of 70 pear varieties for the purpose of identifying the relationship between the content of stone cells and pulp quality. The results demonstrated that the content of stone cells was strongly correlated with pear quality. The majority of the stone cells in all the varieties had diameters of 0.25-0.5 mm; the weight of the stone cells with diameters in this range differed significantly among pear varieties. In addition, the varieties with a higher content of stone cells contained a higher content of coarse pulp than the varieties with a lower content of stone cells.

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Zengqiang Ma, Shishang Li, Meijun Zhang, Shihao Jiang and Yulan Xiao

Anoectochilus formosanus, a medicinal plant used to treat hypertension, lung disease, and liver disease, was grown to maximize biomass and secondary metabolite production in a controlled environment under four levels of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), namely, 10, 30, 60, or 90 μmol·m−2·s−1, that is L10, L30, L60, and L90 treatments, respectively. On Day 45, all growth values were greatest for the L30 plants. Dry weight was lowest for the L10 plants. Leaf area, stem length, and fresh weight were lowest for the L90 plants. The chlorophyll concentration was highest in the L10 treatment and decreased with increasing PPF. Electron transport ratios of leaves were highest in the L30 treatment and lowest in the L90 for the second leaf (counted down from the apex) and in the L10 for the third leaf. An increase in light intensity from 10 to 60 μmol·m−2·s−1 increased the superoxide dismutase activity and was associated with an increase in the total flavonoid concentration. The total flavonoid concentration (mg·g−1 DW) was greatest in the L60 and lowest in the L90. However, the total flavonoid content (mg/plant) was highest in the L30 plants as a result of great biomass. The results indicated that A. formosanus is a typical shade plant suitable to grow under low light intensity at PPF of 30 to 50 μmol·m−2·s−1 for both growth and production of total flavonoid. A light intensity of 90 μmol·m−2·s−1 induced stress on plant growth and reduced photosynthetic capability and the flavonoid accumulation.

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Xiaogang Li, Ling Jin, Jing Ling and Zhongchun Jiang

Foliar application of hormones and nutrients can improve fruit quality, but specific conditions for applying hormones and nutrients may vary among fruit species. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of 6-BA, potassium phosphate (monobasic), and calcium chloride on fruit weight, palatability, and storage quality of 8-year-old pear trees, cv. Hosui. Foliar applications of 1 mg·L-1 6-BA, 0.3% potassium phosphate, 0.3% calcium chloride, or 0.3% potassium phosphate + 0.3% calcium chloride were made at 20-day intervals from June until maturity. All foliar applications increased average fruit weight over the control (distilled water). 6-BA or the combination of potassium phosphate and calcium chloride increased fruit weight more than did potassium phosphate or calcium chloride alone. Fruit palatability, measured as the ratio of sugar content to acid content, was significantly lower in 6-BA, potassium phosphate, and calcium chloride treatments than in the control. All treatments increased vitamin C content over the control. Fruit storage quality in calcium chloride or calcium chloride + potassium phosphate treatments was superior to that in the control. Potassium phosphate alone and 6-BA treatments had no effects on fruit storage quality. We conclude that foliar applications of 0.3% potassium phosphate + 0.3% calcium chloride or 1 mg·L-1 6-BA can increase average fruit weight and improve fruit palatability.

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Yiwei Jiang, Yaoshen Li, Gang Nie and Huifen Liu

Nitrogen greatly impacts plant growth and development. The objective of this study was to characterize growth, nitrogen use, and gene expression of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) in response to increasing nitrogen supplies. Perennial ryegrass (cv. Inspire) was grown in sand culture and irrigated with a half-Hoagland solution amended with 0, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0, and 7.5 mm nitrogen. Leaf tissues were harvested at 10 days (first cutting) and 20 days (second cutting) and roots were harvested at 20 days. The relatively higher N supply (2.0–7.5 mm) resulted in a larger amount of leaf fresh and dry weight but lower root fresh and dry weight, especially for the second cutting. Root:leaf ratio was higher under low N, but lower under the high N treatment. Leaf N content was relatively higher under 2.5, 5, and 7.5 mm N than under the other three treatments, while 2.5 mm N exhibited relatively higher leaf carbon content for both cuttings. Leaf C:N ratio and leaf nitrogen use efficiency (LNUE) decreased with increasing N supplies for the first cutting but were higher under low N (0–1.0 mm) for both cuttings. Leaf C:N ratio and LNUE did not differ among low N and LNUE also remained unchanged among high N for the second cutting. Root N content increased, but the root C:N ratio and root N use efficiency (RNUE) decreased with increasing N supplies, especially under 2.5, 5.0, and 7.5 mm N. Low (0.5 mm), moderate (2.5 mm), and high (7.5 mm) N were chosen to examine the expression level of NR encoding nitrate reductase and GS1b encoding glutamine synthetase. Treatment of 0.5 mm N had higher expression levels of leaf NR than other two treatments for both cuttings and a higher level of leaf GS for the second cutting. Expression of NR in the roots did not vary among treatments but the expression of GS increased under 2.5 and 7.5 mm, compared with the 0.5 mm N. Differential leaf and root growth and physiological responses to low N (0 to 1 mm) and to moderate to high N (2.5 to 7.5 mm) could be used for examining the natural variation of N use in diverse perennial ryegrass populations.

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Wang Yong, Lu Wangjin, Li Jianguo and Jiang Yueming

To understand the relationship between fruit cracking and gene expression patterns, we identified two expansin genes from litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) fruit and then examined their expression profiles in pericarp and aril at different stages of fruit development, using the cracking-resistant cultivar Huaizhi and the cracking-susceptible cultivar Nuomici. Two full-length cDNAs of 1087 and 1010 base pairs encoding expansin, named LcExp1 and LcExp2, were isolated from expanding fruit using RT-PCR and RACE-PCR (rapid amplification of cDNA ends) methods. LcExp1 mRNA could be detected from the early stage of fruit rapid growth (59 days after anthesis). The LcExp1 mRNA increased and reached to the highest level at the end of growth phase (80 days after anthesis) in pericarp of `Huaizhi', while the mRNA could be detected at the stage of rapid fruit growth, then increased slightly and finally kept remained almost constant in the pericarp of `Nuomici'. Similar accumulation of LcExp2 mRNA was observed in fruit aril of `Nuomici' and `Huaizhi', whereas LcExp2 accumulated only in pericarp of `Huaizhi' but did not appear in pericarp of `Nuomici'. The results indicate that expression of two expansin genes in litchi pericarp are closely associated with fruit growth and cracking.

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Lu Zhang, Xiuming Hao, Yonggeng Li and Gaoming Jiang

Early production and high energy efficiency are important in greenhouse vegetable production in cold regions. A dynamic temperature integration strategy with low pre-night temperature (PNT) has been developed to reduce energy consumption and to improve early fruit yield and energy use efficiency. However, the application of this temperature control strategy is feasible only if there is no crop yield and quality loss. To determine the low PNT tolerance threshold and explore the mechanism of this temperature control strategy on plant growth and development, the effects of four PNT temperature integration treatments (PNT9, PNT11, PNT13, and PNT15, with an actual PNT of 9.4, 11.3, 13.3, and 15.1 °C, respectively) on greenhouse tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) were investigated. The PNT was applied at the beginning of the night for 3 h, whereas temperatures in other periods during a day (24 h) were adjusted accordingly to ensure the same 24-h average temperature (19.4 °C) for all PNT treatments. Four cultivars (Bigdena, Clarance, Quest, and Conchita), representing all three types (beefsteak, cluster, and cherry) of greenhouse tomatoes, were used in the study. The optimum PNT for fruit yield was 13.8 and 14.9 °C for ‘Bigdena’ and ‘Conchita’, respectively. Low PNT down to 11 °C did not compromise fruit yield and plant development in ‘Clarance’, and thus a PNT lower than 13 °C can be used for ‘Clarance’ if it does not have a negative effect on fruit quality. In ‘Bigdena’ and ‘Conchita’, the above-ground biomass increased with increasing PNT at the low range of PNT, peaked at ≈13 °C PNT (13.7 and 13 °C for ‘Bigdena’ and ‘Conchita’, respectively), then declined at high PNT. Leaf photosynthesis rates were increased by the highest PNT (PNT15), whereas respiration rates were reduced by the lowest PNT (PNT9). Therefore, PNT at ≈13 °C might have allowed for the proper balance between the high photosynthesis for photoassimilate generation and the low respiration for photoassimilate conservation and thus accumulated the highest photoassimilate and the highest fruit yield in ‘Bigdena’. Flower development rate in ‘Conchita’ decreased linearly with low PNT, which might have limited the response of its fruit yield to low PNT and raised the optimum PNT for fruit yield to 14.9 °C. Temperature integration with proper low PNT can be an effective climate control strategy for increasing early fruit yield and energy use efficiency in greenhouse tomato production.

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Ling-cheng Jian, Jiang-ming Deng, Ji-hong Li and Paul H. Li

Seasonal alteration of the cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ concentrations of spruce (Picea engelmannii Parry) and brome grass (Bromus inermis Leyss) was investigated by the antimonate precipitation cytochemical technique. Electron microscopic (EM) observations revealed that electron-dense Ca2+ antimonate deposits, an indication of Ca2+ localization, were seen mainly in the vacuole, the cell wall and the intercellular space in samples of both species, collected on 14 July 1997. Few deposits were found in the cytosol and nuclei, showing a low resting level during summer months. On 8 Aug. 1997 following a decrease in daylength of 1 hour and 12 minutes, Ca2+ accumulation was initiated in spruce with increased cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ deposits, but not in brome grass. On 8 Sept. 1997, Ca2+ accumulation occurred in the cytosol of brome grass. This followed a drop in ambient temperature to 12 °C. Cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ deposits continued to increase in spruce. Controlled experiments confirmed that it was the low temperature, not shortening daylength, that triggered Ca2+ accumulation in brome grass. High cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ concentrations lasted about three months in spruce from early August to early November. However, the high cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ concentrations in brome grass lasted only about 20 days from early September to the end of the month. During winter and spring, both species had low resting cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ concentrations. The relationship between the duration of the high cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ concentrations and the status of the developed dormancy/cold hardiness is discussed in light of current findings.

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He Li, Cheng-Jiang Ruan, Li Wang, Jian Ding and Xing-Jun Tian

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is an ecologically and economically valuable species that has been widely cultivated as a new berry crop rich in nutritional and medicinal compounds. RNA Sequencing (RNA-Seq) simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were developed to evaluate the genetic relationships among 91 plants of 31 cultivars from two subspecies, mongolica and sinensis, as well as intraspecific hybrids between them. A total of 7540 RNA-Seq SSRs were identified as potential molecular markers, in which AG/CT (27.57%) was the most abundant unit type. AT/AT (9.93%), and AAG/CTT (11.95%) are the other main repeat motifs. A total of 110 primer pairs were randomly selected for validation of amplification. Seventeen SSR loci, located in genes encoding metabolic processes and cellulose synthases, were identified to be polymorphic among different sea buckthorn cultivars. These SSR loci generated 48 alleles, ranging from 2 to 5 per locus. Cluster analysis based on the proportion of shared alleles and unweighted pair group method with arithmetic average (UPGMA) algorithm divided all the genotypes into two main groups, with all of the ssp. sinensis cultivars (native to China) and hybrids in one group and ssp. mongolica cultivars (introduced from Russia) in the other group, which was in good agreement with their taxonomic classification. The RNA-Seq SSRs developed in this study have a potential use in the conservation of sea buckthorn germplasm and marker-assisted breeding (MAB).

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Xing-Zheng Fu, Fei Xing, Li Cao, Chang-Pin Chun, Li-Li Ling, Cai-Lun Jiang and Liang-Zhi Peng

To compare the effects of various zinc (Zn) foliar fertilizers on correcting citrus Zn deficiency and to explore an effective correcting method, three common Zn fertilizers, Zn sulfate heptahydrate (ZnSO4.7H2O), Zn chloride (ZnCl2), and Zn nitrate hexahydrate [Zn(NO3)2.6H2O], were selected to spray the Zn-deficient citrus leaves, tested at different concentrations, with or without organosilicone surfactant. Zn content, chlorophyll levels, and photosynthesis characteristics of leaves were analyzed. Leaf Zn content was significantly increased with increase of the sprayed Zn concentration of the three Zn fertilizers. However, when the sprayed Zn concentration of ZnSO4.7H2O exceeded 200 mg·L−1, and Zn concentration of ZnCl2 or Zn(NO3)2.6H2O exceeded 100 mg·L−1, obvious necrotic spots formed on leaves. This necrosis disappeared when 0.025% organosilicone was added to the three Zn fertilizer solutions, even at a Zn concentration of 250 mg·L−1. Meanwhile, the Zn contents of leaves increased one to four times for these treatments. Furthermore, foliar application of the three Zn fertilizers significantly improved chlorophyll levels and photosynthetic capacity of Zn-deficient leaves. The data of chlorophyll and photosynthesis characteristics indicate that the correcting effect of ZnCl2 and Zn(NO3)2.6H2O is better than that of ZnSO4.7H2O, and could be further improved via supplement of organosilicone. In conclusion, ZnCl2 or Zn(NO3)2.6H2O containing 250 mg·L−1 of Zn and supplemented with 0.025% organosilicone is a safe and effective formulation of Zn foliar fertilizer for correcting citrus Zn deficiency.