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Tim D. Davis

Plugs of Zinnia elegans Jacq. `California Giant' and Tagetes erecta L. `Golden Climax' and `Grange Lady' were treated with foliar sprays of uniconazole solutions at 0, 5, 25, or 50 mg·liter-1 (spray volume = 120 ml·m-2). Ten days later individual plants were transplanted to OS-liter pots for evaluation of subsequent growth and flowering. All uniconazole treatments reduced height 10 days after application; the extent of reduction depended on uniconazole spray concentration. With zinnia, only the 50-mg·liter-1 foliar spray caused undesirable stunting for at least 1 month after transplanting. None of the uniconazole treatments affected time to anthesis for zinnia. With both marigold cultivars, all uniconazole treatments reduced growth the 2 weeks following transplanting. The highest concentration reduced marigold shoot growth during this period to 25% to 30% of untreated controls. Between 2 and 4 weeks after transplanting growth of all uniconazole-treated marigolds recovered to levels similar to the control. Time to anthesis was increased by the 50 mg·liter-1 treatment for both marigold cultivars. These results suggest that foliar sprays of uniconazole at 5 to 25 mg·liter-1 can control plug height during production without adversely affecting subsequent growth and flowering. with both zinnia and marigold, a single GA3 foliar spray of 100 mg·liter-1 at transplanting partially reversed the adverse post-production effects of the 50 mg·liter-1 uniconazole foliar spray.

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Tim D. Davis and Purwiyatno Hariyadi

Indonesia is one of the most populated countries in the world and is rich in plant biodiversity. The country’s hot humid climate is conducive to the production of many tropical horticultural crops. There are many plant species indigenous to Indonesia that have potential as horticultural crops but which have not been fully evaluated and therefore remain underused. Many of these plants have market potential and may have value for human health and nutrition. Furthermore, horticulture has been identified as one of the priority areas for collaboration between U.S. and Indonesian universities and for Indonesian agricultural development. Accordingly, we are presently working with three Indonesian universities to facilitate agricultural development related to horticulture by: 1) strengthening their curriculum related to plant biodiversity; 2) conducting research aimed at identifying bioactive compounds in underused plants that may have benefit to human health; 3) establishing university-led outreach education programs that lead to a better understanding of plant biodiversity and use; and 4) fostering enterprise based on underused Indonesian plant species. Other untapped agricultural research and development opportunities exist in the postharvest handling of tropical fruits and vegetables. Overall, the climate for collaboration between U.S. and Indonesian academic institutions is quite favorable from both a political and a scientific perspective.

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Wayne A. Mackay and Tim D. Davis

Seeds of four lupine species (L. microcarpus var. aureus, L. havardii, L. succulentis, and L. texensis) were subjected to 0, –2, –4, –6, or –8 bars osmotic potential using PEG 8000 solutions. Seeds of all species were acid scarified prior to placement in petri dishes containing the osmotic solutions. Petri dishes were placed in a seed germination chamber at 25°C with germination data collected daily for 15 days. Seeds of L. havardii, a desert species native to west Texas exhibited the greatest germination as osmotic potential declined while L. succulentis, a species adapted to moist sites, exhibited the greatest decline in germination as osmotic potential decreased. The other species exhibited intermediate germinability under the lower osmotic potentials.

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Narendra Sankhla, Wayne Mackay* and Tim Davis

Low concentration fumigation with nitric oxide (NO*) has been shown to extend the postharvest life of a range of flowers, fruits and vegetables by down-regulating ethylene production. Since ethylene is involved in flower abscission and leaf senescence of `John Fanick' phlox cut flower heads, a superior selection of perennial phlox (Phlox paniculata L.) bearing attractive long-lasting flowers, we have evaluated the effect of NO* delivered in vivo using sodium nitroprusside (SNP) as the source of NO* donor, on postharvest performance of `John Fanick' phlox flower heads. Although the presence of SNP (10-200 μmol·L-1) in the vase solution promoted the abscission of the open flowers, the young flower buds continued to open even in the presence of high SNP concentrations. On the other hand, at high SNP concentrations, the leaves became either yellow, or more frequently turned progressively black and senesced. Inclusion of sucrose in the vase solution, or pretreatment of flower heads with either 1-MCP or STS, significantly delayed the abscission of flowers and blackening of leaves. The pretreatment of flower heads with either 1-MCP or STS, or the presence of sucrose in the vase, together with SNP, greatly reduced the toxicity of the latter chemical resulting in improved postharvest display life. These results indicate that in `John Fanick' the leaves are relatively more susceptible to NO*-induced toxicity than the flowers. However, both sucrose and ethylene perception inhibitors are able to minimize the toxicity of high concentrations of NO* delivered in vivo via SNP.

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Wayne Mackay*, Narendra Sankhla and Tim Davis

Over the years, by recurrent phenotypic selection, breeding and evaluation, we have developed blue, white, and pink flowered lines of Big Bend bluebonnet (L. havardii Wats.). The racemes, which differ in their sensitivity to ethylene, hold promise as a new specialty cut flower crop. The key determinants of postharvest longevity and performance of cut racemes are flower abscission and senescence. Our studies indicated that the addition of sucrose in the holding solution greatly enhanced the vase life, although the optimum sucrose concentration varied considerably in different lines. In blue flowered lines (e.g., `Texas Sapphire', Blue Select) sucrose concentration greater than 2% induced `osmotic wilting' followed by senescence of the standard petal (banner spot petal), while the petals in white flowered lines (e.g., `Texas Ice', White Select) did not show any wilting even in 4% to 6% sucrose. Ethylene perception inhibitors such as 1-MCP or STS completely suppressed the induction of flower abscission in racemes of all the bluebonnet lines. Ethylene biosynthesis inhibitors (e.g., ReTain, CO++), on the other hand, were relatively less effective than 1-MCP/STS. Both ethylene perception as well as biosynthesis inhibitors, in combination with sucrose, acted additively and further enhanced the postharvest performance by delaying flower abscission/senescence.

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Wayne A. Mackay and Tim D. Davis

The Big Bend bluebonnet, Lupinus havardii Wats., is a showy winter annual native to a narrow geographical range in southwestern Texas with blue, fragrant 0.5–1.0-m-long racemes. The L. havardii raceme has considerable potential in the floral industry, because there is a need for high-quality, durable, raceme-type cut flowers. We began a research and breeding project in 1991 aimed at evaluating the potential for this species as a specialty cut flower. Breeding strategies included the development of selfed populations as well as random pollinations among selected individuals with the aim of improving flower color, uniformity, yield, and postharvest performance. Recurrent phenotypic selection has resulted in the development of blue, pink, and white color lines. Concurrently with the breeding efforts, research on seed germination, greenhouse culture for year-round production, postharvest handling, and shipping requirements have been conducted. Trials have indicated that L. havardii is adaptable to greenhouse culture and that individual plants can produce 15–25 marketable racemes within 4–5 months from sowing. Two years of commercial greenhouse trials have been completed. Blue and white cultivars will be released by Texas A&M Univ. within the next year.

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Jerry M. Parsons and Tim D. Davis

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Abha Upadhyaya, Tim D. Davis and Narendra Sankhla

Moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia Jacqu. Marecbal cv. Jaadia) seeds were germinated in 0, 0.1, 1, or 2 μm EBL. After 72 hours, seedlings were exposed to 22 or 48C for 90 minutes. At 48C, EBL increased total electrolyte, K+, and sugar leakage from the seedlings relative to the control. Following exposure to 48C, EBGtreated seedlings bad higher malondialdebyde concentrations than controls, indicating that EBL enhanced high-temperature-induced lipid peroxidation. At 48C, EBL increased ascorbic acid oxidase activity but decreased superoxide dismutase activity relative to the control. Taken collectively, these data do not support a hypothesis that brassinosteroids confer beat shock tolerance to moth bean. Chemical name used: 24-epibrassinolide (EBL).

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Daksha Sankhla, Tim D. Davis and N. Sankhla

This study was initiated to test the embryogenic potential of immature cotyledons (3-5 mm long) of Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis). The embryo initiation medium consisted of B5 salts and vitamins with 3% sucrose and 22.6 μM 2,4-D alone or in combination with 1-15 μM of various cytokinins. Within 15-20 days, globular embryos were formed on the distal end of the cotyledons. Eventually the entire cotyledon surface was covered by embryo-like structures. Addition of cytokinins to the medium did not increase the percentage of cultures which formed embryos. In fact, addition of thidiazuron severely inhibited embryogenesis. Following transfer to an embryo maturation medium (MS medium with 0.38 μM abscisic acid alone or in combination with benzyladenine or zeatin) for 10-14 days, the embryos were placed in MS medium supplemented with GA (2.9 μM) or glutamine (200 mg/liter) with or without activated charcoal (0.5%) for embryo germination and plantlet development. Most of the embryos exhibited precocious germination and well-developed roots but failed to produce normal shoots. Therefore, additional work is needed to improve embryo conversion frequency.

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Abha Upadhyaya, Tim D. Davis and Narendra Sankhla

Seeds of moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia Jacqu. Marechal cv. Jaadia) were germinated in the presence of 0, 0.1, 1, or 2 μm 24-epibrassinolide (EBL). After 72 h, cotyledons were excised and the seedlings exposed to 22 or 48 °C for 90 min. At 48 °C EBL increased total electrolyte, K+, and sugar leakage relative to the untreated control. Following exposure to 48 °C, EBL-treated seedlings had higher malondialdehyde concentrations than controls indicating that EBL enhanced high temperature-induced lipid peroxidation. At 48 °C, EBL increased ascorbic acid oxidase activity and decreased superoxide dismutase activity relative to the control. Taken together, these data do not support the hypothesis that brassinosteroids confer thermotolerance to plants. On the contrary, EBL increased high temperature-induced damage and reduced the activity of some antioxidant systems that may protect against stress-induced cellular damage.