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Wei Qiang Yang*

In a 2-year study, the decomposition rates (changes in carbon to nitrogen ratio) of two kinds of sawdust used for blueberry production were determined. The effects of sawdust age and nitrogen application rates on carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio) of two sawdust types were evaluated. When nitrogen was not applied, the C:N ratio in fresh and aged sawdust decreased 30% and 10% respectively over a 1-year period, indicating fresh sawdust decomposed faster than aged sawdust when used as a surface mulch. However, the C:N ratios between soils amended with aged and fresh sawdust were similar when no nitrogen was added, suggesting the age of sawdust does not affect the decomposition rate once the sawdust is incorporated into the soil. It was found that two nitrogen application rates (150 kg·ha-1 vs. 50 kg·ha-1) had an equal affect on the C:N ratio of both sawdust types. Nitrogen application had no affect on the C:N ratio of both sawdust types when both sawdust were used as soil amendments. Clearly, the decomposition rates of the sawdust were influenced by sawdust age and nitrogen application rates.

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Wei Qiang Yang and Barbara L. Goulart

Aluminum (Al) uptake by and root cation exchange capacity (CEC) of mycorrhizal (M) and nonmycorrhizal (NM) blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) plants were studied. Root CEC was higher in M plants than in NM plants, but total and root Al contents were higher in NM plants. Leaf Al content was higher in NM than in M plants after 1 and 5 hours of exposure. The aurintriboxylic acid stain for Al indicated the presence of Al in the M symbiont. Despite a larger root system and higher root CEC, regression analysis indicated roots of M plants absorbed less Al in the first 5 hours, suggesting that Al sequestration in the M symbiont is responsible for reduced total Al uptake. Differences in dry matter partitioning between M and NM plants were also observed.

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Wei Qiang Yang and Barbara L. Goulart

Aluminum (Al) and phosphorus (P) interactions were investigated in mycorrhizal (M) and nonmycorrhizal (NM) highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) plantlets in a factorial experiment. The toxic effects of Al on highbush blueberry were characterized by decreased shoot, root, and total plant dry mass. Many of the negative effects of Al on plant root, shoot, and total dry matter production were reversed by foliar P and N application, indicating P or N uptake were limited by high Al concentration. However, Al-mediated growth reduction in P-stressed plants indicated that the restriction of P uptake by high Al may not have been the only mechanism for Al toxicity in this experiment. Root Al and P concentration were negatively correlated in NM but not M plantlets, suggesting mycorrhizal infection may alter P uptake processes. Al uptake was also affected by mycorrhizal infection, with more Al accumulating in M plantlet roots and leaves. Correlations among foliar ion concentrations were also affected by mycorrhizal fungal infection.

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Wei Qiang Yang and Barbara L. Goulart

Aluminum (Al) uptake and root cation exchange capacity (CEC) of mycorrhizal (M) and non-mycorrhizal (NM) blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) were studied. Mycorrhizal roots took up more Al than non-mycorrhizal roots over a 48-h period. Different patterns of Al uptake occurred between M and NM roots. The M roots contained more Al at hour 1, followed by a deep decrease at hour 3, and then increased gradually. However, Al uptake in NM roots increased with time. Foliar Al analysis indicated that Al concentration increased with time in both M and NM plants, but a significant increase of foliar Al concentration during the first 3-h period was not observed in M plants. The results suggested that the rate of Al transport and the redistribution of foliar Al were different in M and NM plants. The higher Al concentration in M roots may be due to the higher CEC in M roots and vice versa. Further, the CEC of M roots was decreased by the respiration inhibitor (CN-) treatment while the CEC of NM roots was not, suggesting that CEC in M roots is related to respiration.

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Wei Qiang Yang, David Bryla and Bernadine Strik

The water use of three mature highbush blueberry cultivars was determined during the growing season by using TDR technology. A combination of four buriable TDR waveguides at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-inch depth and two surface waveguides 6- and 18-inch length were installed in a 60-acre commercial `Bluejay', `Bluecrop', and `Jersey' blueberry field with four replications for each cultivar. The reference evapotranspiration (ETo) was obtained for each cultivar from three weather stations located in the vicinity of replicated waveguides. Soil moisture data were collected every 3-5 days from April to the end of September. The average daily crop evapotranspiration (ETc) was significantly different at different plant developmental stages among three cultivars; the highest daily plant water use was during the fruit development stage for all three cultivars. The crop ETc for `Bluejay' and `Elliott' can be as high as 0.35 inches per day and average 1.5 to 2 inches per week during the summer. The estimated crop coefficients at bloom, fruit development, harvest, and postharvest are 0.90, 1.51, 1.05, and 1.05 for `Bluejay'; 0.84, 1.11, 0.99, and 1.23 for `Bluecrop'; and 0.94, 1.30, 1.39, and 1.17 for `Jersey', respectively. The peak water use coincides well with the advancement of fruit maturity, suggesting irrigation scheduling should differ among early, mid, and later season highbush blueberry cultivars.

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Wei Qiang Yang, Barbara L. Goulart and Kathleen Demchak

A factorial experiment was conducted to determine the effect of aluminum (0 and 600 μM) and media (sand, and 1:1 sand:soil) on mycorrhizal (M) and non-mycorrhizal (NM) highbush blueberry plantlets. There were no differences in nutrient uptake and total plant dry weight between M and NM plantlets. However, more root growth, as determined by dry weight, was observed in M than NM plantlets. The plantlets growing in sand had more dry weight than did those in the soil medium. Although the root growth and shoot growth were reduced by the 600-μM Al treatment, the direct effect of Al on plantlet growth was not clear due to Al and P interactions. Plant nutrient uptake was reduced by high concentrations of Al, suggesting that high Al concentration limited the ability of roots to acquire most of the nutrients. Mycorrhizal epidermal cell infection levels of 15% to 20% were maintained in the roots in soil medium but decreased to about 5% over the 6 weeks of the experiment in the sand medium. Although M plantlets accumulated more Al in their roots, Al was readily transported to the leaf tissues of M and NM plantlets.

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Wei Qiang Yang, Amy K. Dunbar and Mary A. Topa

Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) is the most widely planted tree species in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. To maximize its aboveground yield, it is vital to understand how root production, particularly fine root production, affects root carbon allocation to its root systems under various environmental conditions. Over a 2-year period (1998-99), we conducted a field study using minirhizotron technology to investigate fine root production and turn over in four families of a 6-year-old loblolly pine stand in Scotland County, N.C. A total of 144 minirhizotron tubes were installed to examine potential genetic differences in fertilizer effects on fine root turnover. Data analyses indicated an interaction between these families and fertilizer treatments for total fine root length and total fine root number. The effect of treatment on total root length was less clear in the faster-growing families. However, fertilization increased total root length in a slow-growing family but decreased total root length in a faster-growing family. Total root number was decreased by fertilizer treatment in the two fastest-growing families, but increased in the two slowest-growing families. Because ectomycorrhizae are significant carbon sinks in pine root systems and more than 90% of short roots in these loblolly pine families were colonized, ectomycorrhizal short roots (clusters) were classified into nine different morphotypes. No treatment and family interactions were found. Fertilizer treatment decreased the number of mycorrhizal clusters per unit root length. Dark and brown morphotypes were dominant mycorrhizal morphotypes among all the families. Our results suggest possible genetic differences and treatment effects on root system carbon demands of loblolly pine.

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Wei Qiang Yang, Barbara L. Goulart and K. Demchak

A field trial was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of soil fumigation on maintaining nonmycorrhizal status and the effect of mycorrhizal inoculation and preplant soil amendment on the growth of tissue-cultured highbush blueberry plants. Soil fumigation using a methyl bromide/chloropicrin (67/33) mixture at the rate of 560 kg·ha-1 was effective in maintaining nonmycorrhizal status for one growing season. Noninoculated control plants became infected during the second growing season. Field inoculation using a native Oidiodendron maius was successful, but plant growth was not significantly affected by mycorrhizal inoculation in either year. Rotted sawdust amendment, however, reduced plant growth in the first year but effects were no longer measurable in the second year. Soil fumigation and field inoculation could be used to establish mycorrhizal plants and nonmycorrhizal controls for future short-term field experiments.

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Wei Qiang Yang, Barbara L. Goulart and Kathleen Demchak

Aluminum and P interactions were investigated in mycorrhizal (M) and nonmycorrhizal (NM) highbush blueberry plantlets in a factorial experiment. The toxic effects of Al on highbush blueberry were characterized by decreased shoot, root, and total plant dry weight. Many of the negative effects of Al on plant root, shoot, and total dry-matter production were reversed by foliar P and N application, indicating P or N uptake were limited by high Al concentration. However, Al mediated growth reduction in P-stressed plants suggested that the restriction of P uptake by high Al may not have been the only mechanism for Al toxicity in this experiment. Root Al and P concentration were negatively correlated in NM plantlets but not in M plantlets, suggesting mycorrhizal infection may alter P uptake processes. Al uptake also was affected by M infection, with more Al accumulating in M plantlet roots and leaves. Correlations among foliar ion concentrations were also affected by M fungal infection.

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David R. Bryla, Robert G. Linderman and Wei Q. Yang

Fifty-five commercial blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) fields were sampled in northwest Oregon in 2001 to determine the incidence of Phytophthora and Pythium root rot pathogens and identify cultural factors that increase the probability of developing infection. Phytophthora was detected in 24% and Pythium was detected in 85% of the fields sampled. The only species of Phytophthora identified in the study was P. cinnamomi. Root infection by P. cinnamomi was significantly related to cultivar with incidence observed more frequently than expected in ‘Duke’ and ‘Bluecrop’. Both blueberry cultivars are two of the most popular grown in the region, representing 42% of the fields in this survey and ≈46% of the total area planted in Oregon. Two other cultivars found infected by P. cinnamomi were ‘Rubel’ and ‘Briggitta Blue’, together accounting for an additional 24% of the fields surveyed. Phytophthora was not detected in fields planted with ‘Berkeley’, ‘Bluejay’, ‘Bluetta’, ‘Darrow’, ‘Earliblue’, ‘Elliott’, and ‘Powderblue’, each of which represented only 2% to 7% of the fields surveyed. Pythium spp. were identified to genus only, but one or more species of Pythium was found in all 11 cultivars included in the survey. Occurrence of either Phytophthora or Pythium was unrelated to soil type, planting age, or cultural practices such as bed type, cover crop, mulch, irrigation system, fertilizer application, fungicide use, or the source of plant material used in the fields. Overall, most fields with Phytophthora or Pythium remained largely symptomless under good soil drainage conditions and had similar levels of vigor as those without the pathogens.