The bright red pigmentation in edible, anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables is a definite bonus in terms of market appeal. As a result, breeders have worked consistently to intensify anthocyanin levels or alter composition in crops. The positive links between consumption of crops and food products containing natural anthocyanin pigments, and reduced incidence of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, have been established anecdotally and more recently validated in research trials including those from our laboratory group. The protective events, most attributed to the potent antioxidant properties of anthocyanin pigments and associated phytochemicals, place anthocyanin-rich crops in the category of “Functional Foods,” yielding health protection unrelated to nutritional value. In vitro bioactivity assays have identified components from these crops capable of blocking the initiation stages of carcinogenesis, while a completely separate class of phytochemicals and sets of assays establish efficacy against the promotion stages of tumorigenesis. Animal models for carcinogen-induced damage to mammary gland and skin DNA subsequently demonstrate the in vivo potency of the same target compounds. Similarly, to establish cardioprotective properties, demonstrations of ability to inhibit platelet aggregation, relax vascular muscle tissue, and reduce total serum cholesterol are demonstrated in a series of in vitro assays, and via animal models and human studies. While activity-directed fractionations seek to identify specific responsible compounds, it is increasingly evident that bioactivity is drastically attenuated once specific compounds are isolated, and the synergistic interaction of associated phytochemicals in horticultural crops is prerequisite to realizing health benefits. These complications have slowed the establishment of effective minimum “dosages,” but all the more strongly promote consumption of the crops.
Soils, entomology, forestry and horticulture faculty were combined into a single merged Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) during a recent College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences restructuring process at the University of Illinois. The merger initially spawned multiple concerns from faculty, but after an adjustment period, ultimately resulted in enhanced organization, accountability, and collaboration. New, multidisciplinary initiatives within NRES, such as the Illinois Green Industry Survey or development of a highly successful off-campus masters program, attest to the fact that the merger brought new strength and expanded opportunities to our unit.
Jim Syvertsen and M.L. Smith
Effects of nitrogen (N) rate and rootstock on tree growth, fruit yield, evapotranspiration, N uptake, and N leaching were measured over a 2-year period. Four-year-old `Redblush' grapefruit trees on either sour orange (SO), a relatively slow-growing rootstock, or `Volkamer' lemon (VL), a more-vigorous rootstock, were transplanted into 7.9-m3 drainage lysimeter tanks filled with native sand and fertilized at three N rates. N rates averaged from about 14% to 136% of the recommended rate when trees were 5 and 6 years old. More N leached below trees on SO as trees on VL had greater N uptake efficiency. Canopy volume and leaf N concentration increased with N rate, but rootstock had no effect on leaf N. Fruit yield of trees on SO was not affected by N rate, but high N increased water use and yield for larger trees on VL. Canopy growth or yield per volume of water used (water use efficiency) was lowest at low N, but N use efficiency was highest at the low N rates.
C.M. Menzel and L. Smith
Experiments were conducted to determine the effect of time of planting, plant size, and nursery-growing environment on the performance of bare-rooted ‘Festival’ strawberry plants (Fragaria ×ananassa) at Nambour in southeastern Queensland, Australia, over 3 years. Yields were best with a planting in mid-March (1013 g/plant), with lower yields with a planting in early March (711 g/plant), late March/early April (765 g/plant), mid-April (671 g/plant), or late April/early May (542 g/plant). Plants obtained from Stanthorpe in southern Queensland, a warm-growing environment, were just as productive (695 g/plant) as those from Toolangi in Victoria (710 g/plant) or Kempton in Tasmania (701 g/plant), two cool-growing environments. In contrast, large plants from these nurseries with crown diameters ranging from 10 to 17 mm had 17% higher yields than small plants with crown diameters ranging from 6 to 10 mm (751 vs. 642 g/plant). These results suggest that planting in mid-March is optimal for ‘Festival’ in this environment. Lower yields with an earlier planting reflected the small size of the plants, whereas lower yields with later plantings reflected the shorter growing seasons. It can also be concluded that plant size is more important than nursery-growing environment in determining the productivity of strawberry fields in southeastern Queensland.
M.T. McClelland and M.A.L. Smith
Effects of three variables (vessel type, closure, and explant orientation) on microcutting quality were investigated using five woody species [low shadblow, Amefanchier spicata (Lam.) C. Koch (Syn. A. humilus Wieg.); red maple, Acer rubrun L. `Red Sunset'; border forsythia, Forsythia ×intermedia Zab. `Sunrise'; apple, Malus ×domestica Borkh. `McIntosh'; river birch, Betula nigra L.]. Uniform shoot explants were oriented vertically or horizontally in three vessel types (60-ml glass culture tubes, 200-ml glass baby food jars, and 350-ml polypropylene GA7 vessels) with and without a Parafilm seal. Visual density per explant obtained by image analysis was increased in larger vessel types, and significantly more shoots were produced from horizontally placed explants. Closure treatments influenced microshoot quality, but trends were species specific. Overall, horizontal explant orientation in larger vessels wthout parafilm maximized shoot response for most of the species studied. In vitro rooting of microcuttings was significantly enhanced in larger vessels.
M. A. L. Smith, S. L. Knight, and M. J. Bass
A whole plant microculture (WPMC) screening system facilitated rapid, quantitative appraisal of salt stress effects on `Micro-Tom' miniature dwarf tomato. Axillary bud explants were micropropagated on a hormone-free control medium (conductivity = 3.3 dS m-1), gradually introduced to treatments with increasing NaCl or Na2SO4 concentrations via biweekly subculture to fresh media (7,6, 12.8, or 18 dS m-1), and monitored over a subsequent 5 week culture period. Non-intrusive video image analysis techniques were adapted to quantify morphometric (shoot growth rate, area, and length; root length and area) and photometric (ruler and tissue quality) plant responses. Shoot growth was only slightly inhibited at 7.6 and 12.8 dS m-1, but was severely stunted and distorted on high salt (18 dS m-1) media. Root growth inhibition (significantly shorter and thinner primary rants) was first evident at 12.8 dS m-1 after 3 weeks of treatment. At 18 dS m-1, conspicuous retardation of root growth relative to controls could be gauged after only one week. Shoot tip chlorosis was observed in the lowest salt-supplemented treatment after three to four weeks of culture, but overall shoot yellowing at the two highest conductivities was marked after only a few days. Chlorosis symptoms were not uniform within treatments. Cell osmotic concentration showed a linear increase with increasing medium salinity. The WPMC system expedited time course observations of stress symptom development, paralleled stress response trends observed in solution culture tests, and provided an excellent vehicle to investigate plant adaptation to saline conditions.
Ahmed A. Obeidy and M.A.L. Smith
The regenerative capacity of mature pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] embryonic tissues was demonstrated after pretreating mature nuts to eliminate associated endogenous contaminants. Cultured cotyledon segments were induced to form adventitious roots in a medium with 50 μm NAA. A regeneration medium with 20 μm BA and 5 μm IBA stimulated prolific axillary shoot production from the embryonic axis without causing cotyledon abscission. Cotyledon retention was essential for shoot initiation and long-term development. Eighty-five percent of the shoots emerging from embryonic axes formed at the cotyledonary nodes. Thirty percent of the microshoots rooted on an auxin-free medium after preculture in a medium with 20 μm IBA. TDZ (25 μm) stimulated callus production from the cotyledonary nodes and radicles. Adventitious buds emerged on the callus surface and internally in callus. Chemical names used: a -naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA); 6-benzylaminopurine (BA); indole-3-butyric acid (IBA); N-phenyl-N'-1,2,3-thidiazol-5-ylurea (TDZ).
Ahmed A. Obeidy and M.A.L. Smith
Micrografting is an effective technique for elimination of viruses, early diagnosis of grafting incompatibilities, rejuvenation of mature tissue, and bypassing the juvenile phase in fruit trees. Current micrografting procedures are difficult, impractical, expensive, and generally result in an inefficient rate of successful graft production. In order to alleviate some of these limitations, a unique apparatus was designed to splice the in vitro-derived scion and rootstock together during the micrografting process. The dual-layer device was constructed with a pliant outer layer to facilitate manipulation during the grafting of micro-scale plants, and a delicate, absorbent inner layer to cushion the plant tissue and retain hormones and other compounds. These chemicals are slowly released at the grafting zone to alleviate oxidation and enhance callus formation at the cut surface of scion and rootstock. After healing, it is easy to remove the grafting apparatus from the grafted plant without damaging the tissues. This apparatus may be used to unite a scion and a rootstock with different stem diameters. Shoot-tip cultures of `McIntosh' and `M-7' apple and `North Star' sweet cherry, and in vitro seedlings of lemon, orange and grapefruit were used as a source of in vitro scions and rootstocks. Successful graft unions were developed, and the grafted plants were transplanted into the greenhouse environment Micrografted plants were sectioned to determine the anatomical characteristics of the graft union.
J.P. Syvertsen and M.L. Smith
Four-year-old `Redblush' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) trees on either the relatively fast-growing rootstock `Volkamer' lemon (VL) (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.) or on the slower-growing rootstock sour orange (SO) (C. aurantium L.) were transplanted into 7.9-m3 drainage lysimeter tanks filled with native Candler sand, irrigated similarly, and fertilized at three N rates during 2.5 years. After 6 months, effects of N application rate and rootstock on tree growth, evapotranspiration, fruit yield, N uptake, and leaching were measured during the following 2 years. When trees were 5 years old, low, medium, and high N application rates averaged about 79,180, or 543 g N/tree per year and about 126,455, or 868 g N/tree during the following year. Recommended rates average about 558 g N/tree per year. A lysimeter tank with no tree and additional trees growing outside lysimeters received the medium N treatment. Nitrogen concentration in the drainage water increased with N rate and exceeded 10 mg·liter-1 for trees receiving the high rates and also for the no tree tank. Leachate N concentration and total N recovered was greater from trees on SO than from those on VL. Average N uptake efficiency of medium N rate trees on VL was 6870 of the applied N and 61 % for trees on SO. Nitrogen uptake efficiency decreased with increased N application rates. Trees outside lysimeters had lower leaf N and fruit yield than lysimeter trees. Overall, canopy volume and leaf N concentration increased with N rate, but there was no effect of N rate on fibrous root dry weight. Fruit yield of trees on SO was not affected by N rate but higher N resulted in greater yield for trees on VL. Rootstock had no effect on leaf N concentration, but trees on VI. developed larger canopies, had greater fibrous root dry weight, used more water, and yielded more fruit than trees on SO. Based on growth, fruit yield and N leaching losses, currently recommended N rates were appropriate for trees on the more vigorous VL rootstock but were 22% to 69 % too high for trees on SO.