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  • Author or Editor: Qingwu Meng x
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Lettuce tipburn is a physiological disorder characterized by marginal necrosis and curling of inner, younger leaves caused by localized calcium deficiency, especially in low evapotranspiration environments that restrict mass flow and thus calcium mobility. Severe tipburn negatively affects the marketability and quality of greenhouse-grown hydroponic lettuce. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of a chemical-based, calcium-mobilizing biostimulant for mitigating lettuce tipburn when applied in hydroponic nutrient solutions. Butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Rex’) was grown indoors under warm-white light-emitting diodes at a mean photosynthetic photon flux density of 300 μmol⋅m−2⋅s−1 for 11 days. Subsequently, we transplanted seedlings into deep-water-culture hydroponic trays in a greenhouse at an air temperature of 24.6 ± 1.2 °C, relative humidity of 76.2% ± 7.4%, and 20-hour photoperiod with supplemental lighting from high-pressure sodium lamps. The plants were grown in nutrient solutions with and without the biostimulant codenamed CC US-2105 at two concentrations (22 and 220 μL⋅L−1). Data were collected from plant samples at three harvests at 14, 21, and 28 days after transplant (DAT). At 14 DAT, there was no tipburn under any treatments. Compared with the control, the biostimulant at 22 μL⋅L−1 increased shoot dry mass by 31%. At 21 DAT, the biostimulant at 220 μL⋅L−1 eliminated tipburn, and the biostimulant increased shoot fresh weight by 28%, irrespective of the concentration. At 28 DAT, despite sufficient calcium in the whole plant and the remaining nutrient solution, severe tipburn still occurred in plants that did not receive the biostimulant (control). Compared with the control, the biostimulant at the higher concentration of 220 μL⋅L−1 decreased the tipburn rating by 88% and the number of leaves with tipburn by 85%, increased the plant diameter by 11%, increased the total leaf number by six, and accumulated higher levels of manganese and zinc. In contrast, these parameters remained unaffected at the lower biostimulant concentration of 22 μL⋅L−1. At 28 DAT, shoot biomass was unaffected by the biostimulant. In conclusion, the calcium-mobilizing biostimulant is an effective strategy to mitigate hydroponic lettuce tipburn without decreasing biomass accumulation in greenhouse conditions.

Open Access

Photoperiodic lighting from lamps with a moderate ratio of red [R (600–700 nm)] to far-red [FR (700–800 nm)] light effectively promotes flowering of long-day plants (LDPs). Because of spectral controllability, long life span, and energy efficiency, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have emerged as an alternative to conventional light sources, such as incandescent (INC) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. We conducted a coordinated trial with five commercial greenhouse growers to investigate the efficacy of R + white (W) + FR LEDs, with an R:FR of 0.82, to regulate flowering of daylength-sensitive ornamental crops. The trial was also performed in two replicate greenhouses at Michigan State University (MSU). Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), dahlia (Dahlia ×hybrida), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and verbena (Verbena ×hybrida) were grown under natural short days (SDs) with 4-hour night-interruption (NI) lighting provided by the R + W + FR LEDs or conventional lamps typically used by each grower. Two companies used HPS lamps, whereas the other sites used INC lamps. In addition, a natural SD treatment, a truncated 9-hour SD treatment, or a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) NI treatment was provided at three different sites. With few exceptions, time to flower and flowering percentage of the bedding plant crops tested were similar under the R + W + FR LEDs to that under the conventional lamps at all sites. At MSU, ageratum, dianthus, petunia, snapdragon, and verbena flowered earlier under NI lighting treatments than under 9-hour SDs. In addition, plant height and visible flower bud or inflorescence number at flowering were similar under the R + W + FR LEDs and INC lamps for most crops. Therefore, we conclude that the R + W + FR LEDs are as effective as lamps traditionally used in greenhouses at controlling flowering of photoperiodic plants.

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Compared with the ambient Earth carbon dioxide concentration (≈415 μmol⋅mol–1), the International Space Station has superelevated carbon dioxide (≈2800 μmol⋅mol–1), which can be a stressor to certain crops. Far-red light can drive plant photosynthesis and increase extension growth and biomass. However, the effects of far-red light under superelevated carbon dioxide are unclear. We grew hydroponic mustard (Brassica carinata) ‘Amara’ seedlings in four growth chambers using a randomized complete block design with two carbon dioxide concentrations (415 and 2800 μmol⋅mol–1), two lighting treatments, and two blocks at temperature and relative humidity set points of 22 °C and 40%, respectively. Each growth chamber had two lighting treatments at the same total photon flux density of 200 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1. Under the same blue and green light at 50 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 each, plants received either red light at 100 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 or red + far-red light at 50 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 each. At day 15 after planting, far-red light did not influence shoot fresh or dry mass at 415 μmol⋅mol–1 carbon dioxide, but decreased both parameters by 22% to 23% at 2800 μmol⋅mol–1 carbon dioxide. Increasing the carbon dioxide concentration increased shoot fresh and dry mass 27% to 49%, regardless of the lighting treatment. Far-red light decreased leaf area by 16% at 2800 μmol⋅mol–1 carbon dioxide, but had no effect at 415 μmol⋅mol–1 carbon dioxide. Increasing the carbon dioxide concentration increased leaf area by 21% to 33%, regardless of far-red light. Regardless of the carbon dioxide concentration, far-red light promoted stem elongation and decreased chlorophyll concentrations by 39% to 42%. These responses indicate far-red light elicited a crop-specific shade avoidance response in mustard ‘Amara’, increasing extension growth but decreasing leaf area, thereby reducing light interception and biomass. In addition, carbon dioxide enrichment up to 2800 μmol⋅mol–1 increased the biomass of mustard ‘Amara’ but decreased the biomass of other crops, indicating crop-specific tolerance to superelevated carbon dioxide. In conclusion, mustard ‘Amara’ seedlings benefit from superelevated carbon dioxide, but exhibit growth reduction under far-red light under superelevated carbon dioxide.

Open Access

Adding green [G (500–600 nm)] radiation to blue [B (400–500 nm)] and red [R (600–700 nm)] radiation creates white radiation and improves crop inspection at indoor farms. Although G radiation can drive photosynthesis and elicit the shade-avoidance response, its effects on plant growth and morphology have been inconsistent. We postulated G radiation would counter the suppression of crop growth and promotion of secondary metabolism by B radiation depending on the B photon flux density (PFD). Lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Rouxai’) was grown in a growth room under nine sole-source light-emitting diode (LED) treatments with a 20-hour photoperiod or in a greenhouse. At the same photosynthetic photon flux density [PPFD (400–700 nm)] of 180 μmol·m−2·s−1, plants were grown under warm-white LEDs or increasing B PFDs at 0, 20, 60, and 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 with or without substituting the remaining R radiation with 60 μmol·m−2·s−1 of G radiation. Biomass and leaf expansion were negatively correlated with the B PFD with or without G radiation. For example, increasing the B PFD decreased fresh and dry mass by up to 63% and 54%, respectively. The inclusion of G radiation did not affect shoot dry mass at 0 or 20 μmol·m−2·s−1 of B radiation, but it decreased it at 60 or 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of B radiation. Results suggest that the shade-avoidance response is strongly elicited by low B radiation and repressed by high B radiation, rendering G radiation ineffective at controlling morphology. Moreover, substituting R radiation with G radiation likely reduced the quantum yield. Otherwise, G radiation barely influenced morphology, foliage coloration, essential nutrients, or sensory attributes regardless of the B PFD. Increasing the B PFD increased red foliage coloration and the concentrations of several macronutrients (e.g., nitrogen and magnesium) and micronutrients (e.g., zinc and copper). Consumers preferred plants grown under sole-source lighting over those grown in the greenhouse, which were more bitter and less acceptable, flavorful, and sweet. We concluded that lettuce phenotypes are primarily controlled by B radiation and that G radiation maintains or suppresses lettuce growth depending on the B PFD.

Open Access

Under natural short days, growers can use photoperiodic lighting to promote flowering of long-day plants and inhibit flowering of short-day plants. Unlike traditional lamps used for photoperiodic lighting, low-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) lamps allow for a wide array of adjustable spectral distributions relevant to regulation of flowering, including red (R) and white (W) radiation with or without far-red (FR) radiation. Our objective was to quantify how day-extension (DE) photoperiodic lighting from two commercially available low-intensity LED lamps emitting R + W or R + W + FR radiation interacted with daily light integral (DLI) to influence stem elongation and flowering of several ornamental species. Long-day plants [petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.-Andr. ‘Dreams Midnight’) and snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Oh Snap Pink’)], short-day plants [african marigold (Tagetes erecta L. ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’) and potted sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. ‘Pacino Gold’)], and day-neutral plants [pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. ‘Matrix Yellow’) and zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq. ‘Magellan Cherry’)] were grown at 20/18 °C day/night air temperatures and under low (6–9 mol·m−2·d−1) or high (16–19 mol·m−2·d−1) seasonal photosynthetic DLIs from ambient solar radiation combined with supplemental high-pressure sodium lighting and DE LED lighting. Photoperiods consisted of a truncated 9-hour day (0800–1700 hr) with additional 1-hour (1700–1800 hr, 10 hours total), 4-hour (1700–2100 hr, 13 hours total), or 7-hour (1700–2400 hr, 16 hours total) R + W or R + W + FR LED lighting at 2 μmol·m−2·s−1. Days to visible bud, plant height at first open flower, and time to first open flower (TTF) of each species were influenced by DLI, lamp type, and photoperiod though to different magnitudes. For example, plant height of african marigold and potted sunflower at first open flower was greatest under R + W + FR lamps, high DLIs, and 16-hour photoperiods. Petunia grown under R + W lamps, high DLI, and 10- and 13-hour photoperiods were the most compact. For all species, TTF was generally reduced under high DLIs. For example, regardless of the lamp type, flowering of african marigold occurred fastest under a high DLI and 10-hour photoperiod. Flowering of petunia and snapdragon occurred fastest under a high DLI, R + W + FR lamps, and a 16-hour photoperiod. However, only under high DLIs, R + W or R + W + FR lamps were equally effective at promoting flowering when used to provide DE lighting. Our data suggest that under low DLIs, flowering of long-day plants (petunia and snapdragon) occurs more rapidly under lamps providing R + W + FR, whereas under high DLIs, flowering is promoted similarly under either R + W or R + W + FR lamps.

Free access

Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium) is a common ornamental crop with a qualitative short-day flowering response. Extending a short day with moderate blue [B (400–500 nm)] light inhibits flowering in greenhouse conditions with sunlight but does not indoors (without sunlight) under B + red [R (600–700 nm)] light or white light. We postulated that the contrasting responses to B light as a day extension depended on far-red [FR (700–800 nm)] light during the day, which is plentiful under sunlight but lacking indoors under B+R or white light-emitting diodes. To study this response in three chrysanthemum cultivars, we delivered indoor lighting treatments at two locations with an 11-hour main photoperiod of B, green [G (500–600 nm)], R, and FR light, where subscript values indicate the photon flux density (in µmol·m−2·s−1) of each waveband: B60R120, B60G60R60, and B60R60FR60. After each short main photoperiod, plants received 0 or 4 hours of day-extension lighting of 60 µmol·m−2·s−1 of B light (B60). Under all treatments except B60R60FR60 with day-extension B60, it took ‘Chelsey Pink’, ‘Gigi Gold’, and ‘Gigi Yellow’ 13 to 17 days to reach the first visible inflorescence and 42 to 51 days to the first open flower. In contrast, plants grown under B60R60FR60 with day-extension B60 took 41 to 67 days to reach the first visible inflorescence with few plants developing open flowers. Plants were tallest at the first open flower and after 9 weeks of treatments when grown under B60R60FR60 with day-extension B60. These results indicate that the inclusion of FR light, but not G light, in the main photoperiod is necessary for day-extension B light to inhibit flowering in chrysanthemum. On the basis of these results and those of other studies, we postulate that the spectral dependence of flowering in chrysanthemum depends on whether and how the phytochrome photoequilibrium changes during the day. In particular, a sufficiently high daytime phytochrome photoequilibrium (e.g., under B+R and B+G+R light) could establish a predominant mode of floral signaling that prevents perception of subsequent B light as a long day.

Open Access