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  • Author or Editor: Thomas A. Colquhoun x
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Tripti Vashisth, Mercy A. Olmstead, James Olmstead and Thomas A. Colquhoun

Producing temperate-zone fruit crops in subtropical environments requires alterations in fertilizer application and rates. Nitrogen (N) is a critical mineral nutrient required in high amounts by the tree; however, it is often over- or under-applied for optimal fruit quality and can affect the phytochemical composition of fruits. The effects of different N fertilizer rates and harvest date on total phenolic content, total flavonoid content, total anthocyanins, total antioxidant capacity, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, and organic acids (citric and malic acid) of two subtropical peach (Prunus persica) cultivars, TropicBeauty and UFSharp, were investigated. N rate did not affect total soluble solids in ‘TropicBeauty’, although total soluble solids decreased as N rate increased in ‘UFSharp’. Titratable acidity and organic acid content was significantly higher in ‘UFSharp’ as compared with ‘TropicBeauty’, although there was no effect of N rate on titratable acidity. An overall increase in phenolic content, flavonoid content, anthocyanins, and antioxidant capacity were observed with decreasing N rates in both subtropical peach cultivars. A stronger genotype × N treatment interaction was observed for ‘TropicBeauty’ for phenolic content, flavonoid content, and antioxidant capacity than for ‘UFSharp’. In ‘TropicBeauty’, among the treatments with no N and highest N, an almost 100% increase in phenolic content, 200% increase in flavonoid content, 50% increase in anthocyanin content, and 80% increase in antioxidant activity was observed. A positive correlation among phenolic content, flavonoid content, and antioxidant capacity was observed in both ‘TropicBeauty’ and ‘UFSharp’. Late harvest date decreased phenolic content in ‘TropicBeauty’, ranging from 6% to 32% among different N treatments. Late harvest increased anthocyanin content as compared with fruit that were harvested on early dates. The results suggest that subtropical peach phytochemical composition can be affected by different cultivars and tree age, and can be manipulated with cultural practices like N fertilization and harvest time to produce fruit with altered or desired nutritional composition for consumers.

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Lisa Tang, Shweta Chhajed, Tripti Vashisth, Mercy A. Olmstead, James W. Olmstead and Thomas A. Colquhoun

To determine how the dormancy-breaking agent hydrogen cyanamide (HC) advances budbreak in peach (Prunus persica), this study compared the transcriptome of buds of low-chill ‘TropicBeauty’ peach trees treated with 1% (v/v) HC and that of nontreated trees at 3 and 7 days after treatment (DAT), respectively, using an RNA sequencing analysis. The peak of total budbreak occurred 6 weeks earlier in the HC-treated trees (at 32 DAT) than the nontreated trees (at 74 DAT). There were 1312 and 1095 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) at 3 and 7 DAT, respectively. At 3 DAT, DEGs related to oxidative stress, including the response to hypoxia, lipid oxidation, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) metabolic process, were upregulated in HC-treated buds. Additionally, DEGs encoding enzymes for ROS scavenging and the pentose phosphate pathway were upregulated at 3 DAT but they were not differently expressed at 7 DAT, indicating a temporary demand for defense mechanisms against HC-triggered oxidative stress. Upregulation of DEGs for cell division and development at 7 DAT, which were downregulated at 3 DAT, suggests that cell activity was initially suppressed but was enhanced within 7 DAT. At 7 DAT, DEGs related to cell wall degradation and modification were upregulated, which was possibly responsible for the burst of buds. The results of this study strongly suggest that HC induces transient oxidative stress shortly after application, leading to the release of bud dormancy and, subsequently, causing an increase in cell activity and cell wall loosening, thereby accelerating budbreak in peach.

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Jessica L. Gilbert, Michael L. Schwieterman, Thomas A. Colquhoun, David G. Clark and James W. Olmstead

Previously, when selecting for flavor in the University of Florida southern highbush blueberry (SHB, Vaccinium corymbosum L. hybrids) breeding program, sugar/acid ratios and breeder preference were the only factors considered. A more precise method of evaluating flavor would include volatile compounds that may also contribute to the flavor experience. Therefore, volatile profiles of five SHB cultivars (Farthing, FL01-173, Scintilla, Star, and Sweetcrisp) were compared using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. All cultivars were harvested on four separate dates within the harvest season, and fruit from each cultivar were also harvested at four developmental stages on the first harvest date. Among the cultivars, soluble solids content and volatile production tended to increase with fruit maturity, whereas titratable acidity decreased. All volatile components were more variable than measures of sugars and acids during the harvest season. Many of the volatiles present varied significantly between harvest dates, resulting in significant genotype × environment interactions during the harvest season. A closer examination of linalool, trans-2-hexenol, trans-2-hexenal, hexanal, and 1-penten-3-ol, five volatile compounds commonly associated with blueberry flavor, showed cultivar, developmental stage, and harvest date differences for each volatile. ‘Star’ experienced the least variation through the harvest period.

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Laura A. Levin, Kelly M. Langer, David G. Clark, Thomas A. Colquhoun, Jeri L. Callaway and Howard R. Moskowitz

The IdeaMap® software suite and the concept of Mind Genomics® were used to analyze which features of a flower product are influential to consumer perception. By presenting online human subjects with combinations of elements that describe a flower product, a database was created to define how individuals perceive distinct components of an overall flower product. This study was conducted with two separate groups of participants, the first provided by a panelist fielding house and the second administered to an undergraduate introduction to plants and gardening class. The fielding house participants represented various demographic groups throughout the United States and the majority was 40 years of age and older. The undergraduate class participants consisted primarily of white, female students between the ages of 18 and 24 years. Each study participant was exposed to a permutation of flower-based elements derived from six categories: flower color, flower shape, consumer health and wellness, flower fragrance, flower purchase location, and flower use. The results of the two studies illustrated which elements of each flower category appealed to different demographics of the population and were used to identify segments of the population that possessed similar mindsets toward elements of interest and disinterest in regard to a flower product. In both the fielding house and student IdeaMap® studies, the highest and lowest interest values were for elements from the flower fragrance category, indicating that floral fragrance is an important aspect of flowers with respect to current and future consumer satisfaction. Three distinct segments were identified in each study with the segments being primarily concerned with elements involving olfaction, visual, and other attributes of a flower product.

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Jessica L. Gilbert, James W. Olmstead, Thomas A. Colquhoun, Laura A. Levin, David G. Clark and Howard R. Moskowitz

Blueberries are a high-value fruit that has experienced extraordinary growth in consumption in the past decade. Maintaining this growing market requires an understanding of the current market and its potential for expansion. To assay the impact of 36 specific blueberry sensory and psychological traits on consumer interest, a blueberry fruit quality study was constructed using techniques that allow many features to be tested in an analysis by combining specifics from different categories that describe a product. Individual traits that most impact the likelihood of fruit purchase were identified. Sweet and intense blueberry flavor yielded the most positive purchase interest, whereas bad texture attributes such as seediness were the most detrimental to interest. It was also possible to define two interest segments within the survey population that shared similar responses to particular experimentally assayed traits. The larger segment of the sample population (61%) was most interested in the aspects of blueberry flavor, whereas the second segment of respondents (39%) was most influenced by health aspects commonly associated with blueberry fruit consumption. Both segments responded negatively to bad texture. This study suggests that breeders and producers should exploit genetic and environmental variables that contribute to improved blueberry flavor and that marketing strategies to sell blueberry cultivars of superior flavor may be appropriate.

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Mercy A. Olmstead, Jessica L. Gilbert, Thomas A. Colquhoun, David G. Clark, Robert Kluson and Howard R. Moskowitz

Despite production of the first domestically produced peach of the calendar year in the United States, the subtropical peach industry faces marketing challenges, particularly with small fruit size. Although important, size is only one aspect of fruit quality, and not inclusive of all possible fruit quality attributes. Thus, this research asked consumers to identify an “ideal” peach given a combination of possible peach fruit quality attributes to help determine their influence on consumer purchase. These attributes were verified with farmers’ market intercept studies. The top attributes that fostered purchase likelihood included flavor, texture, size, and firmness. Psychophysics studies showed that consumers preferred peaches that were sweet, juicy, round, with freestone or semifreestone characteristics, whereas consumers were less likely to purchase peaches with mealy, dry, or meaty textures. Young consumers (ages 18–24) preferred crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, whereas older consumers (ages 51–65) preferred sweet, melting-texture peaches. Farmers’ market intercept studies found consumers (ages 45–65) preferred melting-texture peaches with good flavor that led to increased overall liking. In addition, in the farmers’ market studies, aroma and flavor were important attributes and were highly correlated with overall liking. Objective measurements of total soluble solids (TSS) were not correlated with overall liking, indicating that although the nationwide experiment found consumers desired sweet peaches, other attributes may contribute more favorably to overall liking.

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Keun H. Cho, Veronica Y. Laux, Nathan Wallace-Springer, David G. Clark, Kevin M. Folta and Thomas A. Colquhoun

Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) is an attractive and popular ornamental plant with propagation mainly achieved through vegetative cuttings. For commercial purposes, it is of interest to enhance the speed of establishment while maintaining high quality. Light quality has been shown to influence adventitious root development, so these experiments examined the effect of narrow-bandwidth light treatments on root growth and overall plant quality for seven coleus cultivars with vegetative cuttings in potting soil and one cultivar with shoot tip in vitro cultures onto Murashige and Skoog (MS) agar medium. During the 28 days of the propagation period, the cuttings grown under narrow-bandwidth red light (R; 663.4 nm at peak) more than doubled in the adventitious root number compared with those under blue light (B; 445.7 nm at peak) and green light (G; 530.0 nm at peak) in five cultivars. R light also increased fresh weight of the cuttings by 55.6% more than G light. In comparison, the cuttings grown under G light yielded significantly lower root and shoot dry mass than other light treatments. R light cuttings showed more dry mass content (9.63%) than those under white light (W; 437.4 nm and 559.5 nm at peak) and G light (7.85% and 5.86%, respectively). A positive correlation (R 2 = 0.598, P < 0.001) was found between the formation of adventitious roots and gained fresh weight of cuttings. R light made the reddish color of leaves significantly stronger in most cultivars, whereas the cuttings exposed to G light became less vivid compared with other light conditions. When the shoot tips were propagated in vitro onto MS medium, R light treatment initiated the root development more rapidly than other lights, with significantly greater rooting rate (20.0% and 63.6%, respectively) at day 5 and 10. The shoot tips under R light also formed significantly more roots (12.3 per cutting) than those grown under narrow-bandwidth B light (5.8 per cutting). The shoot tips showed browning at an early stage and newly emerged leaves grew very compactly under B light. The combination of red and green light (R+G) increased more than twice as much roots and dry mass compared with W light. In addition, the R+G light led to morphological changes, including larger leaves and longer petioles and internodes than those in other light treatments. The exposure to R+G+B and B light made the shoots very compact for the 28 days of in vitro culture period and significantly increased the chlorophyll contents resulting in dark green leaves.