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Seenivasan Natarajan and Jeff Kuehny

Small heat shock proteins (sHSP) are a specific group of highly conserved proteins produced in almost all living organisms under heat stress. These sHSP have been shown to help prevent damage at the biomolecular level in plants. One of the greatest impediments to production of marketable herbaceous plants and their longevity is high temperature stress. The objectives of this experiment were to study the plant responses in terms of sHSP synthesis, single leaf net photosynthesis, total water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), and overall growth for two S. splendens cultivars differing in performance under heat stress. `Vista Red' (heat tolerant) and `Sizzler Red' (heat sensitive) were exposed to short duration (3 hours) high temperature stresses of 30, 35, and 40 °C in growth chambers. Increasing the temperature to about 10 to 15 °C above the optimal growth temperature (25 °C, control) induced the synthesis of sHSP 27 in S. splendens. Expression of these proteins was significantly greater in the heat-tolerant vs. the heat-sensitive cultivar. Soluble carbohydrate content was greater in `Vista Red', and in both the cultivars raffinose was the primary soluble carbohydrate in heat-stressed plants. Overall growth of plants was significantly different in the two cultivars studied in terms of plant height, stem thickness, number of days to flower, and marketable quality. The better performance of `Vista Red' under heat stress was attributed to its morphological characteristics, including short stature, thicker stems and leaves. sHSPs and WSC are also found to be associated with heat tolerance and heat adaptation in S. splendens.

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Seenivasan Natarajan and Jeff Kuehny

One of the greatest impediments to the production of marketable ornamental herbaceous plants in the southern U.S. is high temperature stress. Exposure of plants to sublethal temperature (heat preconditioning) prior to sustained heat stress helps some plants to tolerate subsequent heat stress, a phenomenon often referred as acquired thermotolerance. The objective of this experiment was to examine various morphological, physiological, and anatomical responses of two red varieties of each of the `Vista' (heat tolerant) and `Sizzler' (heat sensitive) series of Salvia splendens to heat preconditioning (HC) and subsequent heat stress treatments [challenging temperatures (CT)]. Cultivars of salvia were subjected to short duration (3 hours) HC of 35 °C every third day until 5 weeks after germination and subsequent exposure to two CT treatments: 30/23 °C and 35/28 °C (day/night) cycles in growth chambers until flowering. Plant growth, marketable quality, stomatal conductance and net photosynthesis declined for `Sizzler' without HC treatment. Compared with nonpreconditioned plants, heat-preconditioned `Sizzler' had 38.28% higher root dry weight, 95% greater leaf thickness, and 50% higher marketable quality at 35/28 °C heat stress condition. Heat preconditioning helped both `Vista' and `Sizzler' to survive in both the heat stress treatments. `Vista' had greater heat-tolerant traits than `Sizzler'; these traits were enhanced with heat preconditioning treatment. The results demonstrated that heat preconditioning enhanced heat tolerance in varieties of salvia, which could be related to heat-tolerant traits, such as dense plant growth with shorter internodes, thicker stems, greater stomatal conductance, and extensive root growth that compensated for the transpiration water loss and cooling effect.

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Seenivasan Natarajan* and Jeff S. Kuehny

The demand for new and/or improved herbaceous annuals and perennials continues to increase, making information on production and viability of these plants a necessity. In Louisiana and the Southern U.S., one of the greatest impediments to production of marketable herbaceous plants and their longevity is high temperature. Herbaceous plants have various stages of vegetative growth and flowering; high temperatures during these developmental stages can have a tremendous impact on plant metabolism, and thus plant growth and development. The goal of this research was to better understand the differences between heat tolerant (HT) and heat sensitive (HS) species and cultivars at various high temperatures in terms of whole plant growth, flowering, photosynthesis, carbohydrate content, electrolyte leakage, chlorophyll content and plant small heat shock proteins (HSP) expression levels. Salvia splendens Vista Series (HT), Sizzler series (HS); Viola witrokiana `Crystal Bowl Purple' (HT), `Majestic Giant Red Blotch' (HS), F1 Nature Series (HT) and F1 Iona Series (HS); Gaillardia × grandiflora `Goblin' (HT) and Coreopsis grandiflora `Early Sunrise' (HS) were grown from seed in growth chambers under 25/18 °C (day/night) cycles. Plants at 4, 6, and 8 weeks after germination were subjected to different high temperature treatments of 25 (control), 30, 35, 40, and 45 °C for 3 h. Results show that there was a significant difference in net photosynthesis, electrolyte leakage, soluble carbohydrate content and HSP levels between HT and HS cultivars. Effects of high temperature on plant growth, chlorophyll content, and number of days to flower, flower size, and marketable quality were also significantly different.

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Seenivasan Natarajan and Jeff S. Kuehny

Many bedding plant cultivars struggle to survive in high temperatures during production. The objective of this research was to study how heat stress and preconditioning affects growth, physiology, and anatomy of the annual bedding plant Salvia splendens Ker Gawl. Heat preconditioning increased the quality and survival capacity of nonheat-tolerant ‘Sizzler Red’. Heat-tolerant traits of ‘Vista Red’ were enhanced with preconditioning. The higher tolerance levels with and without heat preconditioning for ‘Vista Red’ suggested that cultivars with thicker, broader leaves, and higher stomatal frequency had higher light interception, gas exchange, transpirational cooling, and CO2 fixation. These plants attained a more rapid canopy cover and maintained healthier leaves and supplied photoassimilates to reproductive development and root growth. Selecting for these characteristics could be used to help provide guidelines for breeding and selection of heat-tolerant salvia.

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Seenivasan Natarajan, Jeff S. Kuehny and James E. Board

One of the greatest impediments to production of marketable ornamental herbaceous plants in southern U.S. is high temperature stress. Exposure of plants to sub-lethal temperature (heat preconditioning) before sustained heat stress helps some plants to tolerate subsequent heat stress a phenomenon often referred as acquired thermotolerance. The objective of this research was to examine various morphological, physiological and anatomical responses of `Vista red' (heat tolerant) and `Sizzler red'(heat sensitive) cultivars of Salvia splendens to heat preconditioning (HC) and subsequent heat stress treatments (challenging temperatures, CT). Cultivars of Salvia were subjected to short duration HC of 35 °C for 3 hours every third day until 5 weeks after germination and subsequent exposure to two CT treatments 30/23 °C and 35/28 °C (D/N) cycles in growth chambers for the next five weeks. Plant growth, marketable quality, stomatal conductance and net photosynthesis declined for Sizzler Red without HC treatment. Compared with nonpreconditioned plants, heat preconditioned Sizzler Red had 38.28% higher root dry weight, 95% greater leaf thickness, 50% higher marketable quality at 35/28 °C heat stress condition. Heat preconditioning helped both Vista Red and Sizzler to survive in both the heat stress treatments. Vista Red had greater heat tolerant traits than Sizzler Red, these traits exacerbated with heat preconditioning treatment. The results demonstrated that heat preconditioning enhanced heat tolerance in cultivars of Salvia, which could be related to maintenance of dense plant growth with shorter internodes, thicker stems, greater stomatal conductance, extensive root growth that compensated the transpirational water loss and overall cooling of plants.

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Robert H. Stamps, Seenivasan Natarajan, Lawrence R. Parsons and Jianjun Chen

Four water-based cold protection systems [under-benches mist (UBM), over-roadways mist (ORM), and two among-plants fog (APF1, APF2)] were evaluated for their water use and effectiveness in protecting ornamental foliage plants from chilling injury (CI) under protected shade structures at three commercial locations in Florida. UBM used a two-stage thermostat-controlled system with mist nozzles on 25-cm above-ground risers combined with an overhead retractable heat curtain. Both ORM and APF1 had seasonally applied polyethylene film cladding and manually controlled irrigation systems. The ORM system had the mist nozzles located 1.8 m high and APF1 and APF2 systems had the low-pressure fog nozzles mounted on 25-cm above-ground risers spaced among the plants. Temperature data loggers were placed outside and inside the northwest sections of the shadehouses. ORM and the two APF systems were evaluated during freeze events in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and UBM only in 2007 and 2008. UBM, ORM, and APF1 successfully kept the shadehouse temperatures above critical chilling temperatures for all of the foliage plants. APF2 protected all foliage crops except for jungle drum “palm” (Carludovica sp.) that sustained CI. At the UBM site, the air temperatures recorded inside the shadehouse were ≈17 °C warmer than outside. Both ORM and APF1 maintained adequately warm temperatures inside the shadehouses; however, the fog system maintained equal or higher temperatures than the mist system and used 86% less water. Inside temperatures were lower with APF2 than APF1 although the emitter type was the same and the water application rates were similar. These temperature differences were attributable to the greater APF2 shadehouse surface area (SA) and volume (V) compared with APF1 and indicate that the SA and V of structures being heated need to be considered when designing water-based low-pressure fog heating systems. The ORM and both fog systems conserved water compared with using the conventional sprinkler irrigation systems. These results show the potential of water-based approaches for maintaining shadehouses above chilling temperatures during freeze events.