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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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Madhulika Sagaram and Jacqueline K. Burns

Chlorophyll fluorescence and photochemical and nonphotochemical quenching parameters were measured in 20 genotypes of Citrus spp. or relatives grown in the greenhouse and commercial ‘Valencia’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) trees at two Florida locations. The purpose was to determine the utility of measurements for early huanglongbing [HLB (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus)] detection in asymptomatic trees and to examine the leaf response to HLB infection. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-negative healthy and PCR-positive symptomatic, asymptomatic, and distant asymptomatic leaves were used for fluorescence analysis using a portable chlorophyll fluorometer. Greenhouse-grown genotypes were separated into mild, moderate, and severe symptom groups based on leaf mottling, color, and size. In general, mild symptom genotypes were characterized by increased photosystem II (PSII) excitation pressure and unregulated heat dissipation and decreased regulated heat dissipation, whereas moderate and severe symptom genotypes increased loss of photosynthetic efficiency and increased unregulated and regulated heat dissipation. Distant asymptomatic leaves could be distinguished from healthy ones in moderate and severe symptom genotypes by increased total and regulated heat dissipation measurements. In the field, overall photosynthetic efficiency and total regulated heat dissipation measurements could distinguish between healthy and asymptomatic ‘Valencia’ sweet orange leaves at the location with slow or more recent infection, but not at the location where infection appeared to progress faster or was of longer duration. Starch content followed a similar pattern. The results indicate that no single measurement uniquely described the relationship between HLB and the host in asymptomatic and healthy leaves, but accuracy of field-based detection could be strengthened by a combination of total nonphotochemical quenching, overall photosynthetic efficiency, starch content, and PCR analyses. Chlorophyll fluorescence and quenching measurements suggest a PSII-based explanation for, and temperature dependency of, leaf symptom development.

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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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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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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.