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Min Deng, Jianjun Chen, Richard J. Henny and Qiansheng Li

Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Blume is one of the most popular ornamental foliage plants. It encompasses more than 300 recognized cultivars valued by their wide range of leaf shapes and vivid foliage colors. Thus far, only limited information is available regarding the genetic basis of their leaf morphological variation. This study investigated the chromosome numbers and karyotypes of seven phenotypically diverse cultivars. Root-tip cells were fixed, mounted, and observed under light microscopy. Results showed that chromosome numbers in the mitotic metaphase of the seven cultivars were high and variable and ranged from 2n = 66, 70, 72, 76, 80, 82, 84, to 2n = 96, indicating that the cultivars are polyploid and some could be aneuploid. Genetic mosaics occurred in one of the seven cultivars. Additionally, each cultivar had its own karyotype. There were no relationships between chromosome numbers or karyotypes and leaf morphology. Results from this study suggest that the morphological diversity among cultivars of this species could be in part attributed to high variation in chromosome numbers and karyotypes.

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Min Deng, Jianjun Chen, Richard J. Henny and Qiansheng Li

Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Blume, commonly known as crotons, are among the most popular ornamental foliage plants cultivated for either landscaping or interiorscaping. Currently, more than 300 cultivars are available; each has a distinct phenotype, particularly in leaf morphology. Thus far, there is no information regarding their genetic relationships. In this study, genetic relatedness of 44 cultivars of C. variegatum was investigated using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. Fourteen primer combinations generated a total of 549 AFLP fragments, which were used to estimate genetic distances and construct dendrograms based on the neighbor-joining method. The 44 cultivars were divided into seven clusters, which concurred with the known history of croton geographical isolation, adaptation, introduction, and breeding activities but differed from the classification made by the Croton Society based on leaf morphology. The established genetic relationships could be important for future germplasm identification and conservation and new cultivar development. Additionally, genetic distance among the 44 cultivars was 0.322 or less, indicating that they have a narrow genetic base. The narrow genetic base may indicate that the cultivars were derived from a common progenitor. On the other hand, 81% of the 549 fragments were polymorphic and the average polymorphic information content was 0.22, which suggests that the cultivars are genetically highly polymorphic. The high polymorphisms may be attributed to significant gene loss or gain facilitated by mutation and/or chromosome variation, thus contributing to a wide range of leaf morphological differences among cultivars.

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Qiansheng Li, Min Deng, Jianjun Chen and Richard J. Henny

Pachira aquatica Aubl. has recently been introduced as an ornamental foliage plant and is widely used for interiorscaping. Its growth and use under low light conditions, however, have two problems: leaf abscission and accelerated internode elongation. This study was undertaken to determine if production light intensity and foliar application of paclobutrazol [β-(4-chlorophenyl)methyl-α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H- 1,2,4- triazole-1-ethanol] improved plant growth and subsequent interior performance. Two-year-old P. aquatica trunks were planted in 15-cm diameter plastic pots using a peat-based medium and were grown in a shaded greenhouse under three daily maximum photosynthetic photon flux densities (PPFD) of 285, 350, and 550 μmol·m−2·s−1. Plant canopy heights, average widths, and internode lengths were recorded monthly over a 1-year production period. Two months after planting, the plant canopy was sprayed once with paclobutrazol solutions at concentrations of 0, 50, and 150 mg·L−1, ≈15 mL per plant. Before the plants were placed indoors under a PPFD of 18 μmol·m−2·s−1 for 6 months, net photosynthetic rates, quantum yield, and light saturation and compensation points were determined. Results showed that lowering production light levels did not significantly affect canopy height, width, or internode length but affected the photosynthetic light response curve and reduced the light compensation point. Foliar application of paclobutrazol reduced internode length, thereby resulting in plants with reduced canopy height and width and more compact growth form. Paclobutrazol application also reduced the light compensation point of plants grown under 550 μmol·m−2·s−1. Plants with the compact growth form did not grow substantially, dropped fewer leaflets, and thus maintained their aesthetic appearance after placement indoors for 6 months. These results indicated that the ornamental value and interior performance of P. aquatica plants can be significantly improved by producing them under a PPFD range between 285 and 350 μmol·m−2·s−1 and foliar spraying of paclobutrazol once at a concentration between 50 and 150 mg·L−1.

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Qiansheng Li, Jianjun Chen, Russell D. Caldwell and Min Deng

This study evaluated the potential for using cowpeat, a composted dairy manure, as a component of container substrates for foliage plant propagation. Using a commercial formulation (20% perlite and 20% vermiculite with 60% Canadian or Florida peat based on volume) as controls, peat was replaced by cowpeat at 10% increments up to 60%, which resulted in a total of 14 substrates. Physical and chemical properties such as air space, bulk density, container capacity, total porosity, pH, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, and cation exchange capacity of the cowpeat-substituted substrates were largely similar to those of the respective control. However, the electrical conductivity (EC) increased with the increased volume of cowpeat. The 14 substrates were used for rooting single-node cuttings of golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens ssp. oxycardium) and three-node cuttings of ‘Florida Spire’ fig (Ficus benjamina) and germinating seeds of sprenger asparagus (Asparagus densiflorus) in a shaded greenhouse. All cuttings rooted in the 14 substrates, and the resultant shoot and root dry weights of golden pothos and ‘Florida Spire’ fig 2 months after rooting did not significantly vary across seven Canadian peat- or Florida peat-based substrates. Shoot dry weights of heartleaf philodendron were also similar across substrates, but the root dry weight produced in the Canadian peat-based control substrate was much greater than that produced in the substrate containing 60% cowpeat. Root dry weight and root length produced in the Florida peat-based control substrate were also significantly greater than those produced in substrates substituted by 60% cowpeat. These results may indicate that cuttings of golden pothos and ‘Florida Spire’ fig are more tolerant of higher EC than those of heartleaf philodendron, as the substrate with 60% cowpeat had EC ≥ 4.16 dS·m−1. Seed germination rates of sprenger asparagus from cowpeat-substituted Canadian peat-based substrates were greater than or comparable to those of the control substrate. Seed germination rates were similar across the seven Florida peat-based substrates. The root-to-shoot ratios of seedlings germinated from both control substrates were significantly greater than those germinated from substrates substituted by cowpeat. This difference could be partially explained by the higher nutrient content in cowpeat-substituted substrates where shoot growth was favored over root growth. Propagation is a critical stage in commercial production of containerized plants. The success in using up to 60% cowpeat in rooting and seed germination substrates may suggest that cowpeat could be an alternative to peat for foliage plant propagation.

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Xue-Min Hou, Zi-Hua Wang, Xi-Min Deng and Guo-Hui Li

This experiment was carried out to obtain a pressure–volume (P-V) curve and Höfler diagram of the cortex tissue of fresh ‘Fuji’ apple fruit (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) with a novel centrifuge method. Based on the P-V curve and Höfler diagram, several water relation parameters of cortex tissue were determined and the interrelationship of these parameters was established. Turgor loss point (TLP) occurred at –1.74 MPa and 73.7% of relative water content (R*). At full hydration, osmotic potential (ψS) was –1.30 MPa and symplastic water accounted for 86.8% of R*. Bulk elastic modulus decreased linearly by 28% as pressure potential declined from 1.30 MPa at full hydration to zero at the TLP. This centrifuge technique can provide a simple and efficient way to determine water relation parameters of fleshy fruits.

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Juanxu Liu, Min Deng, Richard J. Henny, Jianjun Chen and Jiahua Xie

This study established a method of regenerating Dracaena surculosa Lindl. ‘Florida Beauty’ through indirect shoot organogenesis. Bud, leaf, and stem explants were cultured on a Murashige and Skoog basal medium supplemented with N6-(2-isopentyl) adenine (2iP) at 12.3 and 24.6 μM with 3-indoleacetic acid (IAA) at 0, 1.1, and 2.3 μM, respectively, and 2iP at 36.9, 49.2, 61.5, and 73.8 μM with IAA at 1.1 and 2.3 μM, respectively. Calluses were induced from leaf explants but failed to produce adventitious shoots. Calluses were also induced from stem and bud explants cultured on the basal medium containing 12.3 μM 2iP and 2.3 μM IAA, 24.6 μM 2iP or higher with either 1.1 or 2.3 μM IAA. The highest callus induction frequency was 63.2% from stem explants and 69.6% from bud explants when they were cultured on the basal medium supplemented with 49.2 μM 2iP and 2.3 μM IAA. The highest shoot formation frequency was 65.7% from stem-derived callus cultured on the basal medium containing 61.5 μM 2iP and 1.1 μM IAA and 88% from bud-derived callus cultured with 49.2 μM 2iP and 1.1 μM IAA. The highest number of shoots per piece of stem- and bud-derived calluses was 3.8 and 6.7, respectively. Adventitious shoots developed better root systems in the basal medium supplemented with 2.0 μM IAA. Plantlets after transplantation into a soilless substrate grew vigorously in a shaded greenhouse under a maximum photosynthetic photon flux density of 300 μmol·m−2·s−1. Neither disease incidence nor somaclonal variants were observed in the regenerated population. This established method could be used for efficient micropropagation of D. surculosa, and the availability of tissue-cultured liners could reduce the dependency on imported cuttings, which often bring new or invasive pests into the United States.

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Jin Cui, Juanxu Liu, Min Deng, Jianjun Chen and Richard J. Henny

Syngonium podophyllum ‘White Butterfly’, one of the most popular ornamental foliage plants, is propagated almost exclusively through in vitro shoot culture. Ex vitro rooting, however, has been associated with severe Myrothecium leaf spot (Myrothecium roridum Tode ex Fr.). The objective of this study was to establish a method for regenerating well-rooted plantlets before ex vitro transplanting. Leaf and petiole explants were cultured on a Murashige and Skoog (MS) basal medium supplemented with N-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-N′-phenylurea (CPPU), N-phenyl-N′-1,2,3-thiadiazol-5-ylurea (TDZ), 6-benzyladenine (BA), or N-isopentenylaminopurine (2iP) with α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), respectively. Calli formed from leaf explants cultured on the basal medium supplemented with CPPU or TDZ with 2,4-D or with NAA as well as from petiole explants cultured on the medium supplemented with BA, CPPU, or TDZ with 2,4-D or NAA. The calli, however, failed to differentiate, and shoot organogenesis did not occur. Culture of nodal explants on the MS basal medium supplemented with 9.84 μm 2iP, 8.88 μm BA, 8.07 μm CPPU, or 9.08 μm TDZ with 2.26 μm 2,4-D resulted in the formation of protocorm-like bodies, adventitious shoots, and subsequently well-rooted plantlets. MS basal medium supplemented with 19.68 μm 2iP and 1.07 μm NAA resulted in the highest percentage (92.9%) of nodal explants producing protocorm-like bodies and an average of 16.9 well-rooted plantlets per nodal explant. Adventitious shoots were able to root in the initial induction medium, but better root development occurred after shoots with protocorm-like bodies were transferred onto MS basal medium supplemented with 9.84 μm 2iP and 2.69 μm NAA. Regenerated plantlets were stable and grew vigorously with 100% survival rates after ex vitro transplanting to a container substrate in a shaded greenhouse.

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Zhiyong Hu, Min Zhang, Qigen Wen, Jie Wei, Hualin Yi, Xiuxin Deng and Xianghua Xu

Seedlessness is of commercial importance in citrus (Citrus L.). Seedless ‘Ougan’ mandarin (C. suavissima) was selected from a bud sport mutation that occurred in ‘Ougan’ mandarin. We analyzed their pollen viability through KI-I2 and FDA staining, and examined the anthers of wild-type (seedy) and seedless mutant ‘Ougan’ mandarin using histological and cytochemical methods to characterize the process of pollen development. No pollen fertility was detected in this mutant. Pollen abortion in anthers of the mutant occurred at the tetrad stage of microspore development, and almost all the tetrads were abnormal. The mutant had heterogeneous microspore populations, including monads, dyads, triads, tetrads, and polyads in the same microsporangium. Pollen grain number per anther of the mutant was 21.9% less than the wild type. Morphology of mature pollen grains using SEM showed that the shape of mature pollen grains from both wild type and mutant is similar, but the microsporangia of the latter contained pollen grains of more variable sizes. At the early mature pollen grain stage, abundant starch grains and lipids appeared in the wild type's pollen, but fewer amounts were observed in the mutant. Moreover, the tapetal cells of the wild type accumulated lipids, but not those of the mutant. Results indicated that the abnormal development of the microspore led to pollen abortion in the mutant, and this could be the reason for its seedlessness. However, the genetic reasons for the aberrant tetrads are not clear and are under investigation.

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Min Zhang, Xiuxin Deng, Changping Qin, Chunli Chen, Hongyan Zhang, Qing Liu, Zhiyong Hu, Linlin Guo, Wenhua Song, Yong Tan and Shengcai Liao

‘Zaohong’ navel orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck + C. unshiu Marc.], a new strain of citrus from a graft chimera, was discovered in China. It was diploid and arose at the junction where a ‘Robertson’ navel orange scion was top-worked onto a Satsuma mandarin (C. unshiu). Some characteristics determined by the L1 cell layer, such as juice sacs of fruit and stoma length, were similar to those of Satsuma mandarin, while others, including leaf index, fruit shape, navel, and color and aroma of the rind, were determined by the L2 cell layer, were similar to ‘Robertson’ navel orange. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis of the carotenoid extracts of the flesh of ‘Zaohong’ navel orange indicated that it had the carotenoids profile of Satsuma mandarin with β-cryptoxanthin as the predominant component in the juice sacs in mature fruit. Simple sequence repeats (SSR) and chloroplast simple sequence repeats (cpSSR) analysis showed that both nuclear and chloroplast genomes of ‘Zaohong’ navel orange were composed of both donor plants. On the basis of these facts, ‘Zaohong’ navel orange was found to be a periclinal chimera consisting of L1 derived from Satsuma mandarin and L2/L3 from ‘Robertson’ navel orange. It combined the valuable traits of both donor plants, matured ≈1 month earlier than the present navel orange cultivars, and therefore had good potential in citrus fresh market.