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  • Author or Editor: Peter J. Leonard x
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Two commercial freezers were modified to provide an inexpensive chamber system to investigate frost effects on wild, lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) under field conditions. A computer control system was developed with software written in Visual Basic 6.0 for MSWindows, which precisely controlled temperature in the plant canopy when the chambers were placed over blueberry plants in the field. Frost events (with temperatures ranging from -2 to -15 °C (28.4 to 5.0 °F)) were simulated by user input to control the cooling and warming rates, and minimum temperatures. The system records temperature set points, and current temperature in the plant canopy, or elsewhere in the plant environment, and provides a graphical display of key parameters. Trials have verified the reproducability of temperature profiles and the chambers have been used to provide preliminary information on the effects of frost at bloom on fruit set and development.

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Aronia Medik., commonly known as chokeberry, is a genus of deciduous, multistemmed, rosaceous shrubs native to eastern North America. Three species of chokeberry are commonly accepted, A. arbutifolia (L.) Pers., red chokeberry, A. melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott, black chokeberry, and A. prunifolia (Marshall) Rehder, or purple chokeberry. In Europe, a fourth species of human origin is recognized as Aronia mitschurinii A.K.Skvortsov & Maitul. In North America this type of Aronia is described as cultivars of A. melanocarpa, including ‘Viking’, ‘Nero’, and ‘Aron’. This species is characterized by near homogeneity of the population, tetraploidy, and a distinct morphology with more robust stems, wider leaf blades, and larger fruits than wild populations of A. melanocarpa. It has been proposed that this genotype originated from Russian pomologist Ivan Michurin’s early 20th century experiments involving Aronia × Sorbus hybridization. In this study we used amplified fragment length polymorphic (AFLP) markers to elucidate the relationships of A. mitschurinii to wild North American Aronia, ×Sorbaronia C.K. Schneid, Sorbus L., and six additional genera from subtribe Pyrinae (Rosaceae). Data from seven primer combinations were interpreted by the NTSYSpc software package into a similarity matrix using Jaccard’s coefficient. Clustering of AFLP similarity data using the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) identified A. mitschurinii as distinct from wild Aronia, grouping it close to ×Sorbaronia fallax C. K. Schneid. and ×Sorbaronia ‘Ivan’s Beauty’. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) also demonstrated a relationship between A. mitschurinii, ×Sorbaronia fallax, a ×Sorbaronia × Aronia backcross and compound-leaved Sorbus.

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