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Samuel S. Liu and Yong-Biao Liu

Fumigation with cylindered pure phosphine free of ammonia has been used commercially at low temperatures in recent years to control pests on harvested fresh fruit and vegetables. However, long fumigation treatments cause injuries to lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and prevent its commercial use on lettuce. We evaluated whether absorbents for carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethylene can prevent injuries to lettuce in phosphine fumigation, hypothesizing that an accumulation of CO2 or ethylene be responsible for the injuries. Head and romaine lettuce were fumigated in chambers in the presence or absence of CO2 and ethylene absorbents for 3 days at 2 °C. The use of absorbents prevented lettuce injury associated with fumigation and resulted in higher lettuce quality. In the absence of the absorbents, both head and romaine lettuce sustained significant injuries in the form of brown stain, a typical symptom of CO2 injuries, and significantly reduced quality as compared with fumigation in the presence of absorbents. The injuries were likely caused by CO2 based on the facts that injuries were identical to CO2 injuries and the prevention of the injuries by the use of CO2 absorbent. The findings of this study have important implications for developing safe and effective phosphine fumigation protocols at low temperature for controlling insect pests on fresh commodities, especially when a long treatment time is required.

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R.L. Jarret, N. Bowen, S. Kresovich, and Z. Liu

Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) were isolated from a size-fractionated genomic DNA library of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.]. Screening of the library with five oligonucleotide probes, including; (GT)11, (AT)11, (CT)11, (GC)11, and (TAA)8, detected the occurrence of 142 positive colonies among ≈12,000 recombinants. Automated DNA sequencing revealed the presence of simple, compound, perfect, and imperfect SSRs. Five homologous PCR primer pairs were synthesized commercially and used to screen 30 sweetpotato clones for the occurrence of SSR polymorphisms. All primer pairs produced an amplification product of the expected size and detected polymorphisms among the genotypes examined. The potential for the use of SSRs as genetic markers for sweetpotato germplasm characterization is discussed.

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C.S. Vavrina, P.A. Stansly, and T.X. Liu

Household detergents were evaluated in field studies on fresh-market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) for insecticidal and phytotoxic effects. Laboratory bioassays were used to examine the toxicity of a household liquid dish detergent on small nymphs of silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring. The detergents tested proved to be more toxic to whitefly nymphs than the commercial insecticidal soap. Detergent treatments were applied to tomato with a commercial high pressure hydraulic sprayer at 0%, 1%, 2%, 4%, and 8% (by volume) initially and at 0%, 0.25%, 0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.0% (by volume) in subsequent tests. As detergent rate, frequency of application, or both increased, plant dry weight accumulation and fruit yield decreased. Applying detergent also increased time to fruit maturity. A once-a-week application of 0.25% to 0.5% detergent initially applied 2 weeks after transplanting alleviated phytotoxicity and yield reduction problems.

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Y. Liu, B.S. Patil, H. Ahmad, and D.T. Gardiner

Pectin is a class of complex polysaccharides that function as hydrating agents and cementing materials for the cellulose network. Pectin has various health benefits, such as decreasing serum cholesterol levels, alleviating diabetes mellitus, and preventing cancer. It has been reported that the cancer prevention effect is closely related to the structure of pectin (galactose-rich, molecular weight <10,000, and methylation degree 50% to 70%). This study was conducted to investigate the variation of grapefruit pectin content due to harvest time. `Rio Red' grapefruit on sour orange rootstock grown at Texas A&M Univ.-Kingsville Citrus Center were harvested every 2 months and analyzed for pectin content, galacturonic acid concentration, methylation degree, and neutral sugar composition. Results showed that lamella contains more pectin than flavedo and albedo. In the lamella, the edible section, the uronic acid content ranged from 85% to 90% from August to April the following year. Methylation degree increased from August (31.89%) to April (46.99%). Total neutral sugar content of lamella pectin decreased from 110.54 to 61.77% mg·g -1. Galactose, arabinose, and rhamnose are the major sugar contents of pectin (85%), and glucose content increased with the season from 3.14 to 13.34 mg·g-1. Molecular weight of pectin was also determined.

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Xin Zhao, Qianru Liu, M. Tatiana Sanchez, and Nicholas S. Dufault

Fusarium wilt of watermelon can be effectively managed by grafting with resistant rootstocks. Excision and regeneration of grafted seedling roots is a common practice among cucurbit-grafting nurseries that has not been thoroughly examined. The objectives of this study were to compare the performance of grafted and nongrafted watermelon plants under both greenhouse and field conditions when inoculated with Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum (FON) race 2, and assess the effect of root excision on growth of grafted plants with Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata rootstocks. Two greenhouse experiments (Fall 2015 and Spring 2016) and one field trial (Spring 2016) of seedless watermelon ‘Melody’ were conducted in this study. In both greenhouse experiments, inoculated, nongrafted watermelon plants showed a significantly higher percentage of recovered Fusarium spp. colonies (70% to 75%) compared with grafted treatments (0% to 7.5%). Some plant growth measurements, including the longest vine length and aboveground fresh and dry weight, indicated less vigorous growth for nongrafted plants compared with the grafted treatments. Significantly higher percent recovery of Fusarium spp. below the graft union was observed in the grafted plants with root excision and regeneration treatment (3.7%) in contrast to the intact root treatment (0.5%), suggesting that the root excision method may possibly create entry points for FON infections. Overall, the root excision treatment showed little influence on aboveground growth and root characteristics of grafted plants. Yield of grafted watermelon with FON inoculation in the fumigated field trial was significantly higher than that of noninoculated, nongrafted ‘Melody’ (NGM) control as reflected by the increase of fruit number and size. Averaged over all the grafted treatments, the increase in marketable fruit number and weight reached 108.3% and 240.9%, respectively, and the total fruit number and weight increase was at 80.0% and 237.2%, respectively. However, grafted plants also exhibited greater levels of root-knot nematode infestation as indicated by the significantly higher root galling ratings. Results from this study demonstrated that grafting with squash rootstocks can effectively limit FON colonization in seedless watermelon plants, although more research in rootstock selection and testing is needed to optimize the use of grafted plants for improving plant growth and fruit yield.

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Jinrong Liu, W. Roland Leatherwood, and Neil S. Mattson

In the United States, overhead irrigation is common to apply water and dissolved nutrients to vegetable transplants during greenhouse production. Overhead irrigation allows for the control of salt accumulation in the growing medium because excess water can leach salts out of the container. Alternatively, subirrigation saves labor and improves water use efficiency, but soluble salts can accumulate in the upper profile of the containers. Consequently different sets of fertilizer and electrical conductivity (EC) guidelines are required for overhead and subirrigation systems. The objective of this project was to determine the influence of fertilizer concentration and irrigation method (subirrigation vs. overhead irrigation) on the growth of several vegetable transplant crops intended for retail sale. Seedlings of collards (Brassica oleracea var. acephala ‘Vates’), kale (B. oleracea var. acephala ‘Nagoya Mix’), lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Buttercrunch’), pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Sweet Banana’), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Sweet 100’) were transplanted into 4-inch-diameter containers and grown in a greenhouse for 4 weeks. Irrigation was provided via ebb and flow benches (subirrigation) or hand-watering (overhead irrigation). Plants received a complete fertilizer solution provided at a concentration of 50, 100, 200, 350, and 500 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N). The treatments resulting in maximum shoot dry weight (DW) for overhead irrigated plants were 100 mg·L−1 N for pepper, 200 mg· L−1 N for tomato, and 350 mg·L−1 N for collards, kale, and lettuce. Irrigation method and fertilizer treatment significantly affected fresh weight (FW) and DW for kale, lettuce, and pepper. For kale and lettuce, regression analysis indicated that maximum DW was reached at a lower fertilizer concentration with overhead irrigation than subirrigation. The treatments resulting in maximum DW for subirrigated plants were 200 mg·L−1 N for kale, lettuce, pepper, and tomato and 350 mg·L−1 N for collards. Reducing fertilizer concentration was an effective method for controlling plant height for all crops we examined except for ‘Sweet Banana’ pepper. However, in many cases height control via nutritional limitation comes at substantial expense to other growth parameters. Our results suggest that, in some cases, fertilizer concentration guidelines for overhead irrigation can be reduced when growing vegetable transplants with subirrigation due to reduced leaching of nutrients and greater potential for accumulation of fertilizer salts.

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Todd C. Wehner, J.S. Liu, and Jack E. Staub

A second gene for bitterfree foliage in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) was discovered. In a cross between two inbred lines having bitterfree foliage (NCG-093 and WI2757), the F1 progeny were bitter, the F2 progeny segregation frequency fit a ratio of 9 bitter : 7 bitterfree, and the BC1 segregation frequencies fit a ratio of 1 bitter : 1 bitterfree. Thus, a second factor nonallelic to the previous bitterfree gene, bi, controls the bitterfree trait. When F2 and BC1 progeny resulting from crosses of bitterfree NCG-093 with other bitter lines were studied, the second factor for bitterfree in NCG-093 fit a recessive, single-gene model. The existence of a second, recessive bitterfree gene was confirmed in additional crosses, and the gene was designated bi-2. Further analysis of two crosses indicated that bi-2 was linked with the short petiole (sp) gene (map distance = 11 cM).

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Haeng S. Lee, Jang R. Liu, Seung G. Yang, Young H. Lee, and Kwang-W. Lee

Mature zygotic embryos dissected from ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer) seeds were cultured on Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium containing various concentrations of 2,4-D and kinetin. Somatic embryos were induced directly from cotyledonary tissue and from intervening callus. The frequency of somatic embryo induction was up to 55% of zygotic embryo explants. Upon transfer onto half-strength MS medium supplemented with 1 mg BA/liter and 1 mg GA3/liter, most somatic embryos developed into plantlets. More than 50% of the plantlets flowered after 4 weeks of culture, and some developed immature fruits in vitro. These results indicate that adulthood of ginseng root explants is not a prerequisite for flowering of plantlets regenerated through somatic embryogenesis. Chemical names used: (2,4 -dichlorophenoxy) acetic acid (2,4-D); N-(2-furanylmethyl) -1H-purin-6-amine(kinetin); N-(phenylmethyl) -1H-purin-6-amine (BA); gibberellic acid (GA3).

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R.L. Jarret, S. Kresovich, T. Holms, Janelle Evans, and Z. Liu

Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) were isolated from a size-fractionated genomic DNA library of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L. cv. New Hampshire Midget). Screening of the library with five oligonucleotide probes, including (GT)11, (AT)11, (CT)11, (GC)11, and (TAA)8, detected the occurrence of 96 positive colonies among ≈8000 recombinants. Automated DNA sequencing revealed the presence of SSRs. PCR primer pairs homologous to the regions flanking the SSR loci were synthesized commercially and used to screen 56 watermelon genotypes for the occurrence of SSR polymorphisms. Amplification products were separated using nondenaturing PAGE. Eighty percent of the primer pairs produced amplification products of the expected size and detected polymorphisms among the genotypes examined. The use of SSRs for watermelon germplasm characterization is discussed.

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S. Lius, R. Manshardt, D. Gonsalves, M. Fitch, J. Slightom, and J. Sanford

Twenty transgenic Carica papaya plants ('Sunset', Roclone 55-l) carrying the coat protein gene (cp) of papaya ringspot virus (PRV) strain HA 5-l have remained symptomless and ELISA-negative for 18 mo. after inoculation with Hawaiian PRV under field conditions. Control plants showed disease symptoms within 1 mo. after manual inoculation or within 4 mo. when aphid populations were the inoculum vectors. Trunk diameter was significantly greater in cp + plants (14.3 cm) than in PRV-infected controls (9.3 cm). Fruit brix, plant morphology, and fertility of cp + plants were all norm al. Segregation analysis in R1 seedlings indicated that 55-1 contains a single transgenic insertion site. PRV resistance in R1 plants was linked with the cp gene, although in some progenies, up to 50% of cp + plants developed mild PRV symptoms more than 3 mo. after inoculation. Preliminary tests suggest that this is not due to genesis of virulent mutant strains of PRV.