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Jun Yan, Jingbo Chen, Tingting Zhang, Jianxiu Liu and Haibo Liu

Centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack] is a native grass of China, and information on soil adaptation ranges, including acid soils, among centipedegrass cultivars is limited. Therefore, objectives of this study were 1) to conduct a preliminary evaluation of relative aluminum tolerance of 48 centipedegrass accessions plus a cultivar, TifBlair, and a common centipedegrass under aluminum (Al) stress (0 and 1500 μM Al) by using a solution culture method; and 2) to determine Al effects on nutrient uptake between resistant-group and sensitive-group accessions among the 50 accessions and cultivars. Differences were found among accessions and cultivars, and the CV of relative root weight, relative shoot weight, and relative total weight were 39.9%, 32.9%, and 33.6%, respectively. After growing 28 days in an acid subsoil, the resistant-group accessions showed much better growth than the sensitive-group accessions. The Al concentrations in roots and shoots of the two groups of accessions were increased under Al treatment, but most absorbed Al remained in roots with greater Al absorption among the sensitive group compared with the resistant group. The concentrations of phosphorus (P), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and potassium (K) in the two groups were reduced under Al stress with reductions of 59.3%, 54.8%, 47.9%, and 41.3% in shoots and reductions of 8.70%, 52.5%, 43.2%, and 34.4% in roots, respectively. Under Al stress, differences in P, Mg, and Ca concentrations were found between the two groups; however, differences were not found for K. The resistant-group accessions maintained higher concentrations of Mg and Ca than the sensitive group.

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Qin Yang, Er Liu, Yan Fu, Fuqiang Yuan, Tingting Zhang and Shu Peng

After nearly a decade of development, the scale of blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) cultivation has increased, particularly in south China; however, this region is becoming increasingly challenged by temperature changes during the flowering phenophase. Understanding the effects of temperature on pollen germination and pollen tube growth in blueberry is thus important. Using the rabbiteye blueberry (V. ashei) ‘Brightwell’, different temperature treatments were carried out during open pollination and cross-pollination with the pollen from rabbiteye blueberry ‘Gardenblue’ in field, greenhouse, and controlled temperature experiments over two consecutive years. The differences in pollen germination, pollen tube dynamics, and ovule viability following different treatments were analyzed, and the critical temperatures were calculated using quadratic and modified bilinear equations to quantify the developmental responses to temperature. The results showed that the fruit set of the artificially pollinated plants inside the greenhouse was significantly higher than that outside the greenhouse. Furthermore, pollen germination and pollen tube growth gradually accelerated under the appropriate high-temperature range, resulting in reduced pollen tube travel time to the ovule. However, the percentage of the style traversed by the pollen tube did not increase at temperatures greater than 30 °C, and a high-temperature range could accelerate ovule degeneration. Therefore, impairment of pollen tube growth in the upper half of the style following pollen germination and ovule degeneration constituted important factors leading to reduced fruit setting under short periods of high temperature during the flowering phenophase in rabbiteye blueberry. This work advances our understanding of the effect of temperature on pollen germination, pollen tube growth, ovule longevity, and fruit setting in rabbiteye blueberry, and provides a foundation for continued cultivation and breeding enhancement. The findings propose that the tolerance of rabbiteye blueberry to a certain high-temperature range in the flowering phenophase should inform breeding strategies for temperature resistance and that temperature range is also an important indicator of suitable environments for cultivation to mitigate potential temperature stress.

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Tingting Zhao, Dawei Li, Lulu Li, Fei Han, Xiaoli Liu, Peng Zhang, Meiyan Chen and Caihong Zhong

Kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis Planchon) is an economically important fruit, and its flowering and production are affected by the chill accumulation in winter. In this study, the chilling requirements of nine kiwifruit cultivars with three ploidy levels (diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid) were analyzed by using the Dynamic Model, Utah Model, and chilling hours (CH) Model. The chilling requirements for vegetative budbreak of these kiwifruit cultivars were 24–55 chill portions (CP), 316–991 chill units (CU), and 222–853 CH, and the chilling requirements for floral emergence were 45–69 CP, 825–1336 CU, and 655–1138 CH. The chilling requirements for vegetative budbreak and floral emergence were significantly lower for diploid than hexaploid cultivars with tetraploid cultivars intermediate. Pearson correlation analysis indicated that ploidy levels were positively correlated with chilling requirement, with the cv of 0.74 and 0.82 for vegetative budbreak and floral emergence chilling requirements, respectively. In conclusion, these results provide some novel insights of kiwifruit varieties of various chilling requirements, which is beneficial for kiwifruit cultivar selection for different climates and environments.

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Qin Yang, Yan Fu, Yalan Liu, Tingting Zhang, Shu Peng and Jie Deng

The xenia effect refers to the phenomenon whereby the pollen genotype directly affects seed and fruit development during the period from fertilization to seed germination, which leads to different characteristics in phenotypic traits. The xenia effect can create differences in the endosperm and embryo formed after double fertilization and can also alter various fruit parameters, such as the fruit-ripening period; the fruit shape, size, and color; the flavor quality, such as sugars and acids; as well as the nutrient quality, such as anthocyanins. The xenia effect manifests in various ways, playing an important role in increasing the yield of fruit trees, improving fruit appearance and internal quality, as well as in directional breeding. Compared with other pomology research areas, our understanding of the xenia effect is still in its infancy. Currently, xenia is classified into two types: xenia and metaxenia. In the former, the direct effects of the pollen genotype are exhibited in the syngamous parts of the ovules; that is, the embryo and endosperm only. In the latter, the effects of the pollen genotype are demonstrated in structures other than the embryo and endosperm; that is, in tissues derived wholly from the mother plant material, in seed parts such as the nucellus and testa, as well as in the carpels and accessory tissues. However, the current classification has various shortcomings. In the present study, we propose a novel classification based on whether the appearance of xenia results from the tissue formed by double fertilization. Three xenia types are proposed: double-fertilization xenia, non–double-fertilization xenia, and combined xenia. The new classification has great theoretical and practical significance for future studies on the xenia effect and its mechanisms and also provides a more effective, broader application of xenia in improving the yield and quality of fruit trees.

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Ji Tian, Ke-ting Li, Shi-ya Zhang, Jie Zhang, Ting-ting Song, Yong-jun Zhu and Yun-cong Yao

Anthocyanins are protective pigments that accumulate in plant organs such as fruits and leaves, and are nutritionally valuable components of the human diet. The MYB10 transcription factor (TF) plays an important role in regulating anthocyanin biosynthesis in Malus crabapple leaves. However, little is known about how the promoter regulates McMYB10 expression and influences the substantial variation in leaf anthocyanin accumulation and coloration that is observed in different crabapple cultivars. In this study, we analyzed leaf coloration, anthocyanin levels, and the expression levels of McMYB10 in the leaves of 15 crabapple cultivars with three leaf colors at various development stages, and showed that the expression of McMYB10 correlates positively with anthocyanin accumulation. We also examined the relationship between the number of R6 and R1 elements in the McMYB10 promoters of the different cultivars and the pigmentation of the new buds of spring-red cultivars, as well as the methylation level of the McMYB10 promoters at different development stages in three representative crabapple cultivars. The ratio of R6/R1 minisatellites in the promoters correlated with the color and anthocyanin accumulation in new crabapple buds, and we concluded that the differences in promoter structure and methylation level of the McMYB10 promoters coordinately affect the leaf color of crabapple cultivars.

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Ji Tian, Zhen-yun Han, Li-ru Zhang, Ting-Ting Song, Jie Zhang, Jin-Yan Li and Yuncong Yao

Anthocyanins are protective pigments that accumulate in plant organs such as fruits and leaves, and are nutritionally valuable components of the human diet. There is thus considerable interest in the factors that regulate synthesis. Malus crabapple leaves are rich sources of these compounds, and in this study we analyzed leaf coloration, anthocyanin levels, and the expression levels of anthocyanin biosynthetic and regulatory genes in three crabapple cultivars (Royalty, Prairifire, and Flame) following various temperature treatments. We found that low temperatures (LTs) promoted anthocyanin accumulation in ‘Royalty’ and ‘Prairifire’, leading to red leaves, but not in ‘Flame’, which accumulated abundant colorless flavonols and retained green colored leaves. Quantitative reverse transcript PCR (RT-PCR) analyses indicated that the expression of several anthocyanin biosynthetic genes was induced by LTs, as were members of the R2R3-MYB, basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) and WD40 transcription factor families that are thought to act in a complex. We propose that anthocyanin biosynthesis is differentially regulated in the three cultivars by LTs via the expression of members of this anthocyanin regulatory complex.

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Tingting Sun, Tingting Pei, Zhijun Zhang, Mingjun Li, Linlin Huang, Cuiying Li, Xueyan Shi, Minghui Zhan, Xiaoyu Cao, Fengwang Ma and Changhai Liu

Osmotic adjustments play a fundamental role in plant responses to water deficit. For apple (Malus domestica) trees growing in the primary production areas of China, drought and low phosphorus (P) levels are the main sources of abiotic stress. Although tolerance to drought and low P are important breeding goals for cultivar improvement, there is little information on natural variation within Malus for these traits or the molecular mechanisms that may mediate tolerance. In this study, it was found that in plants grown under conditions of osmotic and low P stress, electrolyte leakage and photosynthetic parameters were significantly higher, but chlorophyll concentrations were lower compared with nonstressed plants. These physiological indicators revealed that, under low P condition, the order of osmotic stress resistance (high to low) was Malus sieversii (Ms) → Malus prunifolia (Mp) → Malus hupehensis (Mh). Expression of the phosphorus transporter genes PHT1;7, PHT1;12, and PHT2;1 in the roots and PHT1;12 and PHT4;5 in the leaves was positively correlated with plant osmotic resistance. It is proposed that the highly expressed PHT genes might improve P absorption and transport efficiency, resulting in the high osmotic stress resistance under low P level conditions in Malus species.

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Tingting Zhao, Jingkang Hu, Yingmei Gao, Ziyu Wang, Yufang Bao, Xiaochun Zhang, Huanhuan Yang, Dongye Zhang, Jingbin Jiang, He Zhang, Jingfu Li, Qingshan Chen and Xiangyang Xu

Zinc finger-homeodomains (ZF-HDs) are considered transcription factors that are involved in a variety of life activities in plants, but their function in regulating plant salt stress tolerance is unclear. The SL-ZH13 gene is significantly upregulated under salt stress treatment in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) leaves, per our previous study. In this study, to further understand the role that the SL-ZH13 gene played in the response process of tomato plants under salt stress, the virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) method was applied to down-regulate SL-ZH13 expression in tomato plants, and these plants were treated with salt stress to analyze the changes in salt tolerance. The silencing efficiency of SL-ZH13 was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR analysis. SL-ZH13-silenced plants wilted faster and sooner than control plants under the same salt stress treatment condition, and the main stem bending angle of SL-ZH13-silenced plants was smaller than that of control plants. Physiological analysis showed that the activities of superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, and proline content in SL-ZH13-silenced plants were lower than those in control plants at 1.5 and 3 hours after salt stress treatment. The malondialdehyde content of SL-ZH13-silenced plants was higher than that in control plants at 1.5 and 3 hours after salt stress treatment; H2O2 and O2 - accumulated much more in leaves of SL-ZH13-silenced plants than in leaves of control plants. These results suggested that silencing of the SL-ZH13 gene affected the response of tomato plants to salt stress and decreased the salt stress tolerance of tomato plants.

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Ting-Ting Li, Zhi-Rong Li, Kang-Di Hu, Lan-Ying Hu, Xiao-Yan Chen, Yan-Hong Li, Ying Yang, Feng Yang and Hua Zhang

Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is a typical climacteric fruit, and its ripening is closely associated with ethylene. In this study, we present evidence that H2S alleviated ethylene-induced ripening and senescence of kiwifruit. Kiwifruit were fumigated with ethylene released from 0.4 g·L−1 ethephon solution or H2S with 1 mm sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS) as the donor or in combination. Fumigation with ethylene was found to accelerate kiwifruit ripening and H2S treatment effectively alleviated ethylene-induced fruit softening in parallel with attenuated activity of polygalacturonase (PG) and amylase. Ethylene + H2S treatment also maintained higher levels of ascorbic acid, titratable acid, starch, soluble protein, and reducing sugar compared with ethylene group, whereas suppressed the increase in chlorophyll and carotenoid. Kiwifruit ripening and senescence under ethylene treatment was accompanied by elevation in reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, including H2O2 and superoxide anion and malondialdehyde (MDA), but combined treatment of ethylene plus H2S alleviated oxidative stress in fruit. Furthermore, the activities of antioxidative enzymes catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) were increased by ethylene + H2S treatment in comparison with ethylene alone, whereas the activities of lipoxygenase (LOX) and polyphenol oxidase (PPO) were attenuated by H2S treatment. Further investigations showed that H2S repressed the expression of ethylene synthesis-related genes AdSAM, AdACS1, AdACS2, AdACO2, and AdACO3 and cysteine protease genes, such as AdCP1 and AdCP3. Taken together, our findings suggest that H2S alleviates kiwifruit ripening and senescence by antagonizing the effect of ethylene through reduction of oxidative stress and inhibition of ethylene synthesis pathway.