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Johshin Tsuruyama and Toshio Shibuya

The present study investigated growth properties and flowering response of seed-propagated strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) seedlings under artificial lighting with different photoperiods to support the development of a high-performance system for the indoor production of strawberry plug transplants. Seedlings of ‘Elan’ and ‘Yotsuboshi’ were grown for 38 days under sunlight in a greenhouse or under light-emitting diode (LED) illumination with photoperiods of 8/16, 12/12, 16/8, or 24/0 hours (light/dark) in growth chambers. The photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) in these photoperiods was maintained at 350, 230, 175, or 115 μmol·m−2·s−1, respectively, to provide the same daily light integral (DLI) of 10 mol·m−2·d−1. The average of DLI of sunlight was 9.9 mol·m−2·d−1. Seedling growth was greater with the 16- and 24-hour photoperiods than with sunlight even though all three treatments provided about the same DLI. Flower buds of the seedlings grown under longer photoperiods started significantly earlier after transplanting in ‘Elan’ but not in ‘Yotsuboshi’. Thus, strawberry transplant production under artificial lighting with an optimized photoperiod can provide high-quality transplants, although the effectiveness is cultivar-specific.

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Kaori Itagaki, Toshio Shibuya, Motoaki Tojo, Ryosuke Endo and Yoshiaki Kitaya

The development of powdery mildew fungus (Podosphaera xanthii) is suppressed on cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings acclimatized to higher red-to-far-red ratio (R:FR) than natural R:FR (≈1.2), but its early development and any limiting factors are still unclear. The present study evaluated conidial germination, initial invasion, and subsequent development of P. xanthii on cucumber seedlings raised under light-emitting diode (LED) lights with R:FRs of 1.2, 5.0, or 10. There were no differences in conidial germination or initial invasion between the treatments, so there was no effect of acclimatization to R:FR on either. But, the development of hyphae, hyphal cells, and haustoria after inoculation were suppressed on seedlings acclimatized to higher R:FR. Because differences occurred only after the initial invasion, nonstructural properties of the host leaves may have affected conidial development. Higher R:FR also suppressed conidial development under natural light filtered through a photo-selective film, which absorbs near-infrared (NIR)-light. However, this effect was reduced when the plants were moved to natural R:FR after inoculation, possibly because of reacclimatization of the seedlings.

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Toshio Shibuya, Ryosuke Endo, Yuki Kitamura, Yoshiaki Kitaya and Nobuaki Hayashi

To evaluate the effect of fluorescent lamps with a high red:far-red (R:FR) light on the potential photosynthesis of transplants, we investigated the photosynthetic light responses of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings grown under fluorescent lamps with high R:FR light (FLH) and compared them with the responses of the seedlings grown under metal-halide lamps (ML) that provided a spectrum similar to that of natural light and under a fluorescent lamp with low R:FR light (FLL). The seedlings were grown under FLH (R:FR = 7.0), ML (R:FR = 1.2), or FLL (R:FR = 1.1) at a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 350 μmol·m−2·s−1. The gross photosynthetic rate (Pg), quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII), and photosynthetic electron transfer rate (ETR) of the foliage leaves were then evaluated at PPFDs ranging from 0 to 1000 μmol·m−2·s−1. The photosynthetic light response of FLH seedlings was similar to those of sun leaves, and the responses of ML and FLL seedlings were similar to those of shade leaves. The Pg, ETR, and ΦPSII of FLH seedlings at PPFD of 1000 μmol·m−2·s−1 was 1.38, 1.32, and 1.28 times, respectively, those of ML seedlings, and was 1.40, 1.23, and 1.22 times, respectively, those of FLL seedlings. The Pg was closely correlated with ETR in each treatment. FLH seedlings had thicker leaf and greater chlorophyll content per leaf area than ML and FLL seedlings. The greater Pg of FLH seedlings than in the other two groups of seedlings at high PPFD was probably the result of the improved ETR resulting from physiological and morphological changes in response to the high R:FR light.

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Toshio Shibuya, Ryoko Terakura, Yoshiaki Kitaya and Makoto Kiyota

Application of a low-relative-humidity treatment (LHT) to seedlings can reduce water stress on cuttings harvested from the seedlings, after the cuttings are planted. Effects of illumination during LHT and LHT duration on leaf water potential and leaf conductance in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seedlings used as the model plant material and on growth of harvested cuttings were investigated to determine optimal LHT conditions. The seedlings received LHT for 12 or 24 h in a lighted or dark growth chamber at air temperatures of 28 to 31 °C and relative humidity of 12% to 25%. Cuttings including a foliage leaf and two cotyledons were harvested by cutting the hypocotyl of the seedlings immediately after the treatment, and then the cuttings were planted in vermiculite medium. Four days after planting, the total fresh weight of the cuttings from seedlings that had received LHT in the lighted chamber was 2.2 times that of cuttings from seedlings that had not received LHT, whereas the total fresh weight of those that had received LHT in the dark increased by 1.3 to 1.8 times. Significant effects of illumination during LHT were also observed in the transpiration rate and growth of the cuttings, harvested following the treatment, after they were planted. By varying LHT duration, it was also found that leaf water potential and leaf conductance of the seedlings decreased as LHT duration increased up to 18 h. Thus, illumination during LHT increased the growth of cuttings taken following the treatment, and optimal treatment duration of around 18 h was estimated from the seedlings' leaf conductance and leaf water potential.

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Toshio Shibuya, Yoshiaki Kitaya, Toyoki Kozai and Masaichi Nakahara

Net photosynthetic and evapotranspiration rates of tomato (LAI = 2.3) and lettuce (LAI = 6.6) plug sheets were estimated based on measurements of the weight of plug sheets and vertical profiles of CO2 concentration above the plug sheets. The measurements were continued in situ for several days in a greenhouse when plugs were at transplant stage. The maximum net photosynthetic rates of tomato and lettuce plug sheets were 0.8 and 2.0 mg CO2/m2 per sec on a plug sheet area basis, respectively. The maximum evapotranspiration rates of those sheets were 100 mg·m–2·s–1. Net photosynthetic and evapotranspiration rates of tomato and lettuce plug sheets increased linearly with an increase in solar radiation flux, with a correlation coefficient of 0.9.

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Toshio Shibuya, Kaori Itagaki, Motoaki Tojo, Ryosuke Endo and Yoshiaki Kitaya

We investigated the effects of fluorescent illumination with a high red-to-far-red ratio (R:FR) on the resistance of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seedlings to powdery mildew fungus (Sphaerotheca cucurbitae; PM). Seedlings were grown at a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 300 μmol·m−2·s−1 provided by fluorescent lamps with high R:FR light (R:FR = 7.0; FLH) or low R:FR light (R:FR = 1.1; FLL) until cotyledons or the first foliage leaf were fully expanded. Spores of PM were then inoculated onto the leaves, and the seedlings were grown for 7 days (from cotyledon stage) or 9 days (from foliage–leaf stage) under FLH. The number of PM colonies on FLH seedlings was 0.80× (cotyledons) and 0.62× (foliage leaves) the number on FLL seedlings. The reduction on the FLH seedlings was probably the result of changes in leaf morphological characteristics such as a thicker epidermal tissue as a result of the higher R:FR illumination. The number of PM colonies on cotyledons of the FLH seedlings was also smaller than that on seedlings grown under metal-halide lamps providing a spectrum similar to that of natural light (R:FR = 1.2).

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Toshio Shibuya, Ryosuke Endo, Yoshiaki Kitaya and Saki Hayashi

Light with a higher red to far-red ratio (R:FR) than sunlight reduces plant growth, but the cause has not been firmly established. In the present study, cucumber seedlings were grown under normal light (similar to sunlight; R:FR = 1.4) from metal-halide lamps or high-R:FR light (R:FR = 4.3) created by transmitting their light through FR-absorbing film, and then their growth parameters and photosynthesis were compared. The relative growth rate (RGR) at high R:FR was 92% of that under normal R:FR, although the net assimilation rate (NAR) did not differ between the treatments, indicating that changes in net photosynthesis per unit leaf area did not cause the growth inhibition at high R:FR. The CO2 exchange per unit leaf area did not differ between the treatments, which supports this hypothesis. The leaf area ratio (LAR) of total plant dry weight of high R:FR seedlings to that of normal R:FR seedlings was also 92%. This suggests that growth suppression in the high R:FR seedlings was caused mainly by decreased LAR. The specific leaf area (SLA) and leaf weight ratio (LWR), components of LAR, under high-R:FR light were 89% and 105%, respectively, of those under normal light, indicating that the smaller LAR at high R:FR mainly results from suppressed leaf enlargement per unit leaf dry matter.

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Kaori Itagaki, Toshio Shibuya, Motoaki Tojo, Ryosuke Endo and Yoshiaki Kitaya

The present study evaluated the development of powdery mildew fungus (Podosphaera xanthii) on leaves of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) acclimatized to different CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) to examine plant–pathogen interactions under the wide range of [CO2] that can occur in greenhouse cultivation. Seedlings of resistant and nonresistant cultivars were acclimatized to reduced (200 µmol·mol−1), ambient (400 µmol·mol−1), or elevated (1000 µmol·mol−1) [CO2]. Powdery mildew spores were inoculated onto the adaxial surface of cotyledons or first true leaves, and colonization was measured after 7 days. Colony density decreased as acclimatization [CO2] increased at the cotyledon stage but increased at the first-true-leaf stage in both cultivars. This result implies that when the effects of [CO2] on plant–pathogen interactions are described, growing stage must be specified. The acclimatization [CO2] was correlated positively with leaf mass per area, dry matter content, and carbon (C) content and negatively with nitrogen (N) content at both stages. Therefore, these leaf properties could not explain the changes in host-plant susceptibility between stages. The effect of acclimatization [CO2] was greater on the resistant cultivar than on the nonresistant cultivar, indicating that the resistant cultivar was more responsive.

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Toshio Shibuya, Junki Komuro, Norio Hirai, Yoshiko Sakamoto, Ryosuke Endo and Yoshiaki Kitaya

We evaluated the preference of adult sweetpotato whitefly [SPWF (Bemisia tabaci biotype B)] to cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seedlings grown under fluorescent lamps (FLs) or metal-halide lamps (MLs) that provided a spectrum similar to that of natural light. Cucumber seedlings were grown under FLs or MLs at a photosynthetic photon flux of 350 μmol·m−2·s−1 in a 12/12-hour light/dark cycle. The red:far red (R:FR) ratio of FL was 7.0 and that of ML was 1.2. Pairs of cucumber seedlings, one grown under FLs and the other under MLs, were then placed in cages and about 100 SPWF adults were released. There were significantly fewer SPWF adults on the FL cucumber seedlings (36%) than on the ML seedlings (64%) 24 hours after release. FL cucumber seedlings had higher chlorophyll content and thicker leaves than ML seedlings. The lower attractiveness of the FL cucumber seedlings was probably due to changes in morphologic characteristics such as the leaf color and thickness resulting from high R:FR illumination of FL. The fact that light quality affects the plant attractiveness to herbivores should be considered in selecting light sources for transplant production under artificial light.

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Toshio Shibuya, Akihito Sugimoto, Yoshiaki Kitaya, Makoto Kiyota, Yuichiro Nagasaka and Shinya Kawaguchi

We estimated leaf vapor conductance (g l) of cucumber grafted transplants under greenhouse growing conditions. Fifty-six transplants were placed on a bench in the greenhouse. The transpiration rate (Tr) of the canopy was estimated by weighing the 16 transplants in the center using an electronic balance. The total vapor diffusion resistance (R l+b) from inside the leaf to the atmosphere was estimated based on the vapor diffusion model, which incorporates the absolute humidity near the leaf surface and that inside the leaf as well as Tr. Next, g l was estimated from R l+b and the resistance of leaf boundary layer evaluated with a model leaf. The Tr in the afternoon tended to be larger than that in the morning at the same photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) level. By contrast, the g l in the afternoon tended to be smaller than that in the morning at the same PPF level. The decrease of g l in the afternoon seems to be induced by the excessive transpiration resulting from an increase of vapor pressure deficit at the leaf surface.