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Sharon A. Duray and Fred T. Davies Jr.

A laboratory exercise is outlined and discussed for seed priming, or osmoconditioning. The exercise was developed using an easily constructed and inexpensive seed-priming system. A variety of horticultural seeds can be used to give students experience and exposure to some of the benefits of seed priming. Seed germination data usually can be obtained within 6 to 8 days, depending on the species used. The laboratory may be modified to stress various features of seed priming, including priming agents, optimal concentrations, and ranges of germination temperatures.

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Sharon A. Duray and Fred T. Davies Jr.

Plant propagation instructors are challenged to develop laboratory exercises that demonstrate the theoretical aspects of seed germination. Seed priming or osmoconditioning is a relatively new technigue that has been shown to improve seed performance in horticultural crops. An esaily constructed seed priming system was designed using a pair of 2-liter glass jars, 2 aquarium pumps and air tubing. Eight sets of 40 seeds were each wrapped in coffee filters and laced in aerated treatment solutions consisting of 50 mmole K H2P O4 or an untreated control of distilled water. All seeds were treated or 0, 1, 3 or 5 days. Upon completion, seeds were rinsed, dried and placed into petri dishes containing moist filter paper to observe germination. A good test species for this exercise is Vinca rosea which typically has a poor germination percentage and rate. Seeds primed for 3 and 5 days significantly enhanced both germination percentage and rate in Vinca.

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Fred T. Davies Jr., Randal S. Stahl and Sharon A. Duray

Symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi increase the P uptake of agronomic, horticultural, and forestry crops. Little is known about the real-time dynamics of carbon balance (net gain of biomass resulting from photosynthesis less the respiratory costs) of plants colonized with mycorrhizae. Our objective was to determine the carbon balance of endomycorrhizal (VAM) chile pepper `San Luis' (Capsicum annuum L.) as a model system for predicting plant response to limited P availability under elevated CO2. The increase in atmospheric CO2 is expected to result in increased plant productivity and greater demand for soil P, however, the lack of available soil P may become the most important nutritional problem limiting crop productivity. Under current conditions, the limitation of soil-P availability is an enormous problem that affects 25% of the world's arable lands. We are quantifying the carbon costs paid by the mycorrhizal plant under varying levels of P deficiency over the life cycle of the plant. Preliminary results from this study under ambient CO2 conditions indicate that there is a lower maintenance respiration and higher growth efficiency with mycorrhizal pepper plants under low soil-P conditions.

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Sven E. Svenson, Fred T. Davies Jr. and Sharon A. Duray

Gas exchange, water relations, and dry weight partitioning of shoot tip cuttings of `Eckespoint Lilo Red' (`Lilo') and `Gutbier V-10 Amy Red' (`Amy') poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Wind. ex Klotzsch) were studied during the initiation and development of adventitious roots. Net photosynthesis (A) and stomatal conductance (g) of cuttings were initially low and remained low until root primordia formation. Foliar relative water content (RWC) and osmotic potential (ψπ) increased upon formation of root primordia. Following formation of root primordia (2 days before visible root emergence) and concurrent with increasing RWC and ψπ, g increased. As roots initially emerged, A and g increased rapidly and continued to increase with further root primordia development and subsequent emergence of adventitious roots. Cutting stem and leaf dry mass and leaf area increased during the first few days after sticking cuttings. During primordium development and initial root emergence, the highest percent increase in dry weight was accounted for by basal stem sections. AU cuttings of both cultivars rooted and had similar root numbers after 23 days, but `Lilo' cuttings had 15% better rooting and 44% more roots than `Amy' after 15 days. This research supports the hypothesis that formation and elongation of root primordia coincides with increased gas exchange in poinsettia cuttings, and that gas exchange can be used as a nondestructive indicator of adventitious root development.

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Carlos A. Lazcano, Fred T. Davies Jr., Sharon A. Duray, Andres Estrada-Luna and Victor Olalde-Portugal

Mature cladodes of prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia amyclaea Tenore. cv. Reina) were treated with five wounding methods and four concentrations of potassium salt indolebutyric acid (K-IBA) to stimulate adventitious root formation. K-IBA from 4144 to 41,442 μm (1000 to 10,000 mg·L-1) increased root number and root dry weight; however, root length was decreased at 41,442 μm (10,000 mg·L-1). Root number and root dry weight were higher with wounding methods that had larger wounded surface areas. K-IBA altered rooting polarity and stimulated adventitious root formation along the wounded cladode surfaces. Treatments without suberization had a higher percentage of rotted cladodes. This research validates the commercial practice in Mexico of suberizing cladodes early in the propagation cycle. Auxin application could be of commercial benefit for enhanced rooting in the clonal regeneration of new selections for prickly-pear cactus orchards. The wounding methods and auxin treatments utilized make an excellent classroom demonstration for manipulating rooting polarity.

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Fred T. Davies Jr., Sharon A. Duray, Lop Phavaphutanon and Randy Stahl

In two separate experiments, the influence of phosphorus nutrition on gas exchange, plant development, and nutrient uptake of Capsicum annuum chile ancho `San Luis' and bell pepper `Jupiter' plants were studied. Plants were fertilized weekly using 250 ml of a modified Long–Ashton solution (LANS) containing 0, 11, 22, 44, 66, or 88 μg P/ml. Phosphorus stress was evident with both pepper cultivars at 0 and 11 μg P/ml, with reduced plant growth and development: leaf number and area, fruit, leaf, stem, root, shoot, and total plant dry weight. The root: shoot ratio was greatest at 0 μg P/ml, reflecting greater dry matter partitioning to the root system. Greater phosphorus stress occurred at 0 μg P/ml in `San Luis' compared to `Jupiter' (88% vs. 58% reduction in total plant dry weight compared to optimum P response). `San Luis' was also more sensitive to phosphorus stress at 11 μg P/ml than `Jupiter' as indicated by the greater reduction in growth responses. With increasing P nutrition, leaf tissue P increased in both cultivars with maximum leaf tissue P at 88 μg P/ml. In `San Luis', there were no differences in tissue P between 0 and 11 μg P/ml plants, whereas 0 μg P/ml `Jupiter' plants had the lowest tissue P. Low P plants generally had the highest tissue N and lowest S, Fe, Mn, Zn B, Mo, and Al. With both cultivars, gas exchange was lowest at 0 μg P/ml, as indicated by low transpiration (E), stomatal conductance (gs), and net photosynthesis (A). Internal CO2 (Ci) and vapor pressure deficit were generally highest at 0 μg P/ml, indicating that Ci was accumulating with lower gs, E, and A in these phosphorus-stressed plants. Generally, no P treatments exceeded the gas exchange levels obtained by 44 μg P/ml (full strength LANS) plants.

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Fred T. Davies Jr., Sharon A. Duray, Lop Phavaphutanon and Randy Stahl

The influence of P nutrition on gas exchange, plant development, and nutrient uptake of Capsicum annuum chile ancho `San Luis' and bell pepper `Jupiter' plants was studied. Plants were fertilized weekly using 250 ml of a modified Long-Ashton solution, containing 0, 11, 22, 44, 66 or 88 μg P/ml. Phosphorus stress was evident with both pepper cultivars at 0 and 11 μg P/ml, with reduced plant growth and development: leaf number and area and fruit, leaf, stem, root, shoot, and total plant dry weight. The root: shoot ratio was greatest at 0 μg P/ml, reflecting greater dry matter partitioning to the root system. Greater P stress occurred at 0 μg·ml–1 in `San Luis' compared to `Jupiter' (88% vs. 58% reduction in total plant dry weight compared to optimum P response). `San Luis' was also more sensitive to P stress at 11 μg P/ml than `Jupiter', as indicated by the greater reduction in growth responses. With increasing P nutrition, leaf tissue P increased in both cultivars with maximum leaf tissue P at 88 μg P/ml. In `San Luis', there were no differences in tissue P between plants treated with 0 and 11 μg P/ml, whereas the `Jupiter' plants treated with 0 μg P/ml had the lowest tissue P. Low P plants generally had the highest tissue N and lowest S, Fe, Mn, Zn, B, Mo, and Al. With both cultivars, gas exchange was lowest at 0 μg P/ml, as indicated by low transpiration (E), stomatal conductance (gs), and net photosynthesis (A). Internal CO2 (Cj) and vapor pressure deficit were generally highest at 0 μg P/ml, indicating that Cj was accumulating with lower gs, E, and A in these P-stressed plants. Generally, no P treatments exceeded the gas exchange levels obtained by 44 μg P/ml (full strength LANS) plants.

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Fred T. Davies Jr., Sharon A. Duray, Sein Hla Bo and Lop Phavaphutanon

The Neem tree is of ornamental, revegetation, biomass and medicinal value. The compound azadirachtin, which is derived from Neem seeds, is commercially used for insecticidal properties. In a 2×2 factorial experiment, Neem seedlings were either colonized with the mycorrhizal fungi Glomus intraradices or noninoculated and fertilized with full strength Long Ashton Mineral Solution at 11 or 22 ppm P. Mycorrhizal and P main effects were highly significant (p-value<0.001) with all growth parameters except R:S ratio. Mycorrhizal plants had greater leaf number, leaf area, leaf dry weight, shoot and root dry weight than noncolonized seedlings. The higher P (22 ppm) level plants had superior growth compared with low P plants. Leaf area and leaf dry weight were similar in mycorrhizal/low P plants and nonmycorrhizal/high P plants. These results suggest that mycorrhizal growth enhancement has important implications for Neem trees which are found in agriculturally poor soils in hot and arid regions.

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Carlos A. Lazcano, Fred T. Davies Jr., Andrés A. Estrada-Luna, Sharon A. Duray and Victor Olalde-Portugal

Mature cladodes of prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia amyclaea Tenore. `Reina') were treated with five wounding methods and four concentrations of potassium salt indole-3-butyric acid (K-IBA) to stimulate adventitious root formation. The wounding method and K-IBA had highly significant effects on root number and root dry mass of cladodes. Interaction between K-IBA and wounding methods showed that greater root number was obtained at the higher auxin concentrations and with wounding methods that had the greatest cut surface area. K-IBA concentrations from 4,144 to 41,442 μm (1,000 to 10,000 mg·L-1) increased root dry mass. Only the wounding method affected rotting of cladodes. Treatments allowing suberization had a higher percentage of nonrotted cladodes. This research validates the commercial practice of allowing cladodes to suberize early in the propagation cycle. K-IBA altered rooting polarity and stimulated adventitious root formation along the wounded cladode surfaces. The vertical nonsuberized wounding methods and auxin treatments are an excellent classroom demonstration for manipulating rooting polarity. Auxin application and wounding could be of commercial benefit for enhanced rooting in the clonal regeneration of new selections for prickly-pear cactus orchards.