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Guihua Lu, Chengde Yang, Houguo Liang and Zhongshu Lu

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Jiuxing Lu, Weiru Yang and Qixiang Zhang

Control of development is an important issue in the production of ornamental plants. Gibberellins (GAs) play a key role in regulating plant growth and development. DELLA is nuclear negative regulators of GA signaling. We identified two DELLA homologous genes, PmDELLA1 and PmDELLA2, in the genome of mei (Prunus mume) genome. We analyzed the structure, expression patterns and molecular functions of both genes. Tissue expression analysis showed that both genes were transcriptionally active. PmDELLA1 showed higher expression in seeds than PmDELLA2. This indicated that PmDELLA2 plays different roles from PmDELLA1 in seed germination. The expressions of both genes at various flowering stages were relatively low. We speculated that PmDELLAs might be positive regulators of flowering by releasing the repression of GA during floral blooming. Transgenic arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) lines overexpressing the two genes showed dwarf and delayed flowering. We confirmed that the two PmDELLAs were partially conserved with genes encoding DELLA proteins in arabidopsis. Our bioinformatics and functional analyses provide information that may be valuable to improve the economic, agronomic and ecological properties of mei and other Rosaceae fruit trees.

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Xiuli Shen, Guochen Yang and Zhongge (Cindy) Lu

To overcome the limitations of traditional propagation, this research was initiated to develop an alternative means for efficient production of Alexandrian laurel (Danae racemosa L. Moench). An in vitro propagation protocol has been developed for Danae racemosa L. Moench using seeds as a source of material for culture initiation. Seedlings were produced after seeds were cultured for 3 month on MS (Murashige and Skoog, 1962) medium. Shoot multiplication occurred on MS medium with or without 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) with 100% multiplication percentage. However, shoot number was significantly increased from an average of 2.8 to more than six with the addition of 5 or 25 μM BAP. Among two indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) treatments tested for rooting of seedlings, incorporation of 5 μM IBA in MS medium significantly increased rooting percentage to 86.4% compared with 71.2% without IBA. The greatest number of roots (three) was produced by 5-minute IBA pulse. However, both IBA treatments significantly reduced root length. The longest root (12.8 mm) was observed on MS medium without any IBA treatment and the shortest (6.1 mm) was produced by IBA pulse. In vitro-propagated plantlets grew well after transfer to a substrate of peat and pine bark (1:1) in the greenhouse. No morphological variation was observed.

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Guochen Yang, Carl Niedziela and Zhongge (Cindy) Lu

The goal of this study was to expedite galax seed germination in vitro. Galax seeds were collected from Yancey County, N.C., at an elevation of about 1100 m. Aseptic cultures were established using the tiny rust-colored seeds. In vitro seed germination was achieved under different pH conditions (4.2, 5.0, and 5.8). Seeds cultured in the medium with pH 4.2 tended to germinate early with a better rate than those cultured with a higher pH of 5.0 or 5.8 at the very beginning. Gradually, seeds from media with pH 5.0 and 5.8 caught up in germination. Eventually, seeds from all pH treatments produced a very similar germination rate. Attempts to use the matted and scaly rhizomes and very tender new growth as explant materials to establish aseptic cultures were not successful, due to severe contamination. However, our observations suggested that the very tender new growth could be a good source of explants once the optimum sterilization time is established.

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Guochen Yang, Zhongge (Cindy) Lu and Carl E. Niedziela Jr.

This research was initiated to study different culture media and plant growth regulators for their influences on callus initiation and production, with a research goal of developing an efficient in vitro callus regeneration protocol for guava (Psidium guajava L.). Guava is an important tropical fruit species that is rich in vitamins and vitamin precursors, minerals, organic acids, and pectins. Seventy-nine phytochemicals provide guava with many unique properties and actions, including anti-microbial, astringent, bactericidal, cicatrizant, emmenagogue, hypoglycemic, laxative, nutritive, and spasmolytic. Different concentrations of various plant growth regulators (PGR), such as 6-benzyladenine (BA), kinetin, or 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), and naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) were added to basic Murashige and Skoog (MS) and woody plant medium (WPM) and tested for their influences. Differences in callus initiation and morphology were noticed between MS and WPM, and among PGR concentration treatments.

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Julia Charlotte Robinson, Guochen Yang, Sanjun Gu and Zhongge (Cindy) Lu

Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.), a medicinal herb commonly used in herbal supplements for the treatment of various ailments, is a perennial herb that grows naturally under shade conditions in temperate forest regions. This project studied the growth and rhizome yield of Black cohosh under shade conditions of 0%, 40%, 60%, and 80% in a high tunnel (9.1 m wide × 29.3 m long) on the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University Farm. Seed rhizomes were planted in raised beds incorporated with 9070 kg/acre compost and preplant fertilizer on 29 May 2016. There was one row per bed, with in-row spacing at 45.7 cm, and one drip line per bed for irrigation. Fertigation was done weekly through the drip tapes with Multi-K 13–0–46 (27.2 kg N/acre) during the growing season. Beds were mulched after sprouting. Growth data of fully mature plants were collected on canopy width and length, total number of stems per plant, stem diameter, and length/height; and rhizome fresh and dry weight. Data were analyzed at the 0.05 level of significance. Plant canopy, stem diameter, and length/height were significantly greater in 40% shade (average, 504.7 × 472.6 mm, 3.7 mm, and 135.9 mm, respectively) than in other shade conditions, with the smallest sizes in 0% shade (average, 255.8 × 255.7 mm, 2.1 mm, and 95.4 mm, respectively). There were no significant differences between the 60% and 80% shade conditions in plant canopy, stem diameter, and length/height. However, the total number of stems per plant (4.9) in 0% shade was significantly more than those in other shade conditions, with the least of stems per plant (2.9) in 80% shade. Rhizome fresh and dry weight per plant were the greatest (164.6 and 48.1 g, respectively) in 40% shade, and the least (77.8 and 22.5 g, respectively) in 0% shade. The results indicate that optimum growing conditions for Black cohosh was in 40% shade with a Daily light integral (DLI) between 15 and 0 mol/m2/day, and a day- and nighttime temperature difference between 8.3 and 2.7 °C.

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Pan-Hui Huang, Wen-Bin Yu, Jun-Bo Yang, Hong Wang and Lu Lu

Pedicularis rex C. B. Clarke ex Maxim., an endemic species with potential horticultural traits from Himalaya, has a unique cup-like petiole structure and highly infraspecific floral variation among members of the lousewort genus (Orobanchaceae). We developed 13 microsatellite markers from three microsatellite-enriched libraries (AG, AC, and AAG) of P. rex with a modified biotin–streptavidin capture technique. Polymorphism of each locus was assessed in 22 individuals with representation of five populations of P. rex. Number of alleles per locus (A) ranged from two to seven with an average of 4.38. The observed and expected heterozygosities varied from 0.03 to 0.86 and 0.45 to 0.84, respectively. Additionally, among the 13 identified microsatellite markers, 11 of them were successfully amplified in species P. thamnophila, and five of them showed polymorphisms. This study may provide important information for further investigation on the population genetics, introduction, and acclimatization of P. rex and its congeners.

Open access

Lie Li, Yu-xin Tong, Jun-ling Lu, Yang-mei Li and Qi-chang Yang

Light, as the energy and signal sources for plant growth and development, is one of the most important environment factors in recently developed plant factories with artificial light (PFALs). To find the optimal combination of light wavelengths for lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv. ‘Tiberius’) plant growth in a PFAL, four treatments, each using red (R; 662 nm) and blue light (B; 447 nm) with a ratio of 4:1 and photon flux density (PFD) of 150 μmol·m−2·s−1, and mixing, respectively, with 50 μmol·m−2·s−1 of green light (G; 525 nm; RBG), yellow light (Y; 592 nm; RBY), orange light (O; 605 nm; RBO) and far-red light (FR; 742 nm; RBFR), were set up during this experiment. A combination of R and B with a ratio of 4:1 and PFD of 200 μmol·m−2·s−1 was set as the control (RB). The responses of lettuce growth, morphology, anatomical structure of the lettuce leaf, photosynthetic performance, lettuce nutritional quality, and energy use efficiency were investigated. The results showed that RBG, RBO, and RBFR increased the shoot fresh weight of lettuce by 20.5%, 19.6%, and 40.4%, and they increased the shoot dry weight of lettuce by 24.2%, 13.4%, and 45.2%, respectively, compared with those under RB. The Pn under RBY was significantly lower than that under RB, although no significant differences in chlorophyll or carotenoid content were found between RBY and RB. RBG increased the lettuce leaf area, the thickness of the leaf palisade tissue, Pn, and light use efficiency compared with those under RB. Plants grown under RBO showed better photosynthetic capacity, such as higher Pn, ΦPSII, and other photosynthetic parameters. RBFR caused an increase in lettuce leaf area and energy use efficiency, but a decrease in leaf thickness and Pn of the single leaf. Moreover, tipburn injury was observed under RBFR. Therefore, these results demonstrate that RBG and RBO can be considered optimal combinations of light wavelengths for lettuce growth in a PFAL in this experiment, although plant growth can also be improved by using RBFR.

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Zhong-Hua Bian, Rui-Feng Cheng, Qi-Chang Yang, Jun Wang and Chungui Lu

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown great potential for plant growth and development, with higher luminous efficiency and more flexible and feasible spectral control compared with other artificial lighting. The combined effects of red and blue (RB) LED with or without green (G) LED light and white LED light on lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) growth and physiology, including nitrate content, chlorophyll fluorescence, and phytochemical concentration before harvest, were investigated. Continuous light exposure at preharvest can effectively reduce nitrate accumulation and increase phytochemical concentrations in lettuce plants. Nitrate accumulation is dependent on the spectral composition and duration of treatment: lettuce exposed to continuous RB (with or without G) LED light with a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 200 µmol·m−2·s−1 exhibited a remarkable decrease in nitrate content at 24 hour compared with white LED light treatment at the same PPF. In addition, RB LED light (R:B = 4:1) was more effective than white LED light at the same PPF in facilitating lettuce growth. Moreover, continuous LED light for 24 hours significantly enhanced free-radical scavenging activity and increased phenolic compound concentrations. We suggest that 24 hours continuous RB LED with G light exposure can be used to decrease nitrate content and enhance lettuce quality.

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Yi-Lu Jiang, Tzong-Shyan Lin, Ching-Lung Lee, Chung-Ruey Yen and Wen-Ju Yang

Yellow pitaya, Selenicereus megalanthus (Schum. ex. Vaupel) Moran, is a potential new fruit in Taiwan. It sprouts mostly in winter and flowers in late spring and fall. In this study, an average of 60% shoots within canopies flowered. Shoots sprouted in the current winter flowered in fall and produced winter fruits, and shoots sprouted earlier than the current winter flowered in late spring and produced summer fruits. Floral buds on most shoots appeared at the distal end. The weight, pulp percentage, and total soluble solids of winter fruits were significantly higher than those of summer fruits. The number of black seeds was positively correlated with pulp weight (R 2 = 0.87). The total soluble solids in the core region of winter fruits reached 22.7 °Brix, higher than that in other regions. Future efforts to improve yellow pitaya production in Taiwan include increasing winter fruit production by enhancing growth of the current year's new shoots through proper canopy management and increasing the size of summer fruit by artificial pollination, fruit thinning, and other means.