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Wei Zhou, Hong Wang, De-Zhu Li, Jun-Bo Yang and Wei Zhou

Luculia pinceana Hook. (Rubiaceae) is a typical distylous species with dimorphic and long-styled monomorphic populations. Within this study, we developed 13 microsatellite markers from L. pinceana using a modified biotin–streptavidin capture method. Polymorphism of each locus was assessed in 30 individuals from four dimorphic populations and one monomorphic population. The average allele number of these microsatellites was 4.153 per locus ranging from three to seven. The observed and expected heterozygosities were from 0.040 to 0.840 and from 0.571 to 0.769, respectively. Additionally, all 13 identified microsatellite markers were successfully amplified in its related species, L. yunnanensis, 10 of which showed polymorphism. These microsatellite markers could provide a useful tool for further study of the breeding system and the population genetic structure in this species and within other Luculia species.

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Hong-Wei Zhou, Lilian Sonego, Ruth Ben-Arie and Susan Lurie

Harvested nectarine fruit [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch `Flavortop'] were held for 5 days at 20 °C, or stored at 0 °C either immediately (control), or after 2 days at 20 °C (delayed-cooling). Observations were conducted after removal from storage for 1, 3, or 5 weeks and a shelf life of 5 additional days at 20 °C. After 5 weeks storage, 87% of control fruit developed woolliness (mealiness in texture accompanied by dry tasting fruit as a result of reduced juice content), while only 7% of delayed-cooling fruit showed signs of woolliness. Firmness of fruit in the delayed-cooling treatment was less at the beginning of ripening than control fruit, but after shelf life in both treatments, fruit reached the same final softness. Expressible juice was lower in woolly fruit (46%) than in healthy fruit (65%). Along with woolliness, viscosity of the resuspended alcohol insoluble residue (cell wall material) of expressed juice increased, implying accumulation of large molecular-weight polymers. The high performance liquid chromatography profile confirmed there were more large pectin polymers (2000 to 76 Ku) in the cell wall components of juice from woolly fruit and a lower arabinose content in these polymers reflected greater side chain removal from pectins in the juice of woolly fruit. Accumulation of larger sized pectin polymers along with high viscosity correlated with lower polygalacturonase activity in woolly fruit. Degradation of soluble pectin released into the juice of woolly fruit may have been impeded by repressed polygalacturonase activity.

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Waltram Ravelombola, Ainong Shi, Jun Qin, Yuejin Weng, Gehendra Bhattarai, Bazgha Zia, Wei Zhou and Beiquan Mou

Impacts of drought stress on crop production can significantly impair farmer’s revenue, hence adversely impacting the gross national product growth. For cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.], which is a legume of economic importance, effects of drought at early vegetative growth could lead to substantial yield losses. However, little has been done with respect to breeding for cowpea cultivars withstanding drought at early vegetative growth. In addition, previous investigations have focused on how plant morphology and root architecture can confer drought tolerance in cowpea, which is not sufficient in efforts to unravel unknown drought tolerance–related genetic mechanisms, potentially of great importance in breeding, and not pertaining to either plant morphology or root architecture. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate aboveground drought-related traits of cowpea genotypes at seedling stage. A total of 30 cowpea genotypes were greenhouse grown within boxes and the experimental design was completely randomized with three replicates. Drought stress was imposed for 28 days. Data on a total of 17 aboveground-related traits were collected. Results showed the following: 1) a large variation in these traits was found among the genotypes; 2) more trifoliate wilt/chlorosis tolerance but more unifoliate wilt/chlorosis susceptible were observed; 3) delayed senescence was related to the ability of maintaining a balanced chlorophyll content in both unifoliate and trifoliate leaves; and 4) the genotypes PI293469, PI349674, and PI293568 were found to be slow wilting and drought tolerant. These results could contribute to advancing breeding programs for drought tolerance in cowpea.

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Hui-juan Zhou, Zheng-wen Ye, Ming-shen Su, Ji-hong Du and Xiong-wei Li

Heat treatment induces resistance to low temperature in horticultural crops. Changes in soluble protein and heat-stable protein (HSP) contents, the total soluble solids (TSS), titratable acidity (TA), reducing sugar, weight loss and firmness of honey peach (cv. Hujingmilu) during heat treatment and refrigerated storage were investigated. Low-temperature storage alone led to decreasing of TA and reducing sugar and caused severe fresh mealiness. The hot-air treatment before low temperature combined with the use of a plastic bag (thickness of 0.03 mm) could counteract this effect. Heat treatment before refrigerated storage increased both soluble protein and HSP contents, and the ratio of heat-stable to soluble protein. The most favorable effect was obtained with 46 °C for 30 minutes. In addition, heat treatment before storage retarded the increase in fruit firmness, maintained the highest contents of the TSS and reducing sugar and inhibited the decline of TA during refrigerated storage. Treatment for 30 minutes at 46 °C before low-temperature storage in combination with a 0.03-mm plastic bag might be a useful technique to alleviate chilling injury (CI) and maintain honey peach fruit quality during cold storage.

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Hong-Wei Zhou, Lilian Sonego, Andrai Khalchitski, Ruth Ben-Arie, Amnon Lers and Susan Lurie

Most `Flavortop' nectarines [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (Nectarine Group)] that were placed directly into 0 °C storage developed chilling injury after removal, while preconditioning fruit for 2 days at 20 °C (delayed storage) reduced chilling injury substantially. Chilling injury was expressed as the development of a dry, woolly flesh texture during ripening. Delayed-storage fruit were as firm as control fruit when placed in storage, but softened more during storage. Analysis of cell wall components showed that in woolly fruit a higher percentage of pectin was retained in the sodium carbonate fraction, although during ripening polymers in this fraction decreased in molecular mass (Mr). In the guanidine thiocyanate hemicellulose fraction of woolly fruit, the associated pectin and hemicellulose remained as large polymers, while in delayed-storage fruit they decreased in Mr during ripening. Endo-polygalacturonase (PG), pectin esterase (PE), and endo-glucanase (EGase) activities of delayed-storage fruit were the same as control fruit at the beginning of storage, although exo-PG was higher. However, differences were observed at the end of storage. Endo-PG activity was lower in control than delayed-storage fruit at the end of storage while PE activity was higher, and exo-PG and EGase activities were similar. These differences in activity were not reflected in the mRNA abundance of the respective enzymes. Endo-PG and PE message was similar in all fruit at the end of storage and increased during ripening, while EGase message was low at all times except in control fruit after storage and development of woolliness. Prevention of chilling injury by delayed storage appears to be due to the ability of the fruit to continue a progressive, slow cell wall degradation in storage which allows normal ripening to proceed when the fruit are rewarmed. Regulation of the softening process did not appear to be by enzyme synthesis, since mRNA levels of the enzymes did not correspond with enzyme activity.

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Stephen M. Southwick, Kitren G. Weis, James T. Yeager and Hong Zhou

Whole-tree sprays of Release LC [predominantly gibberellic acid] (GA,) were applied in a commercial peach [Prunus perisca (L.) Batsch.] orchard in the California Central Valley on three dates from mid-June (about 90 days after full bloom = 28 days before harvest) to late July (14 days postharvest) 1993 at 50, 75, 100, and 120 mg·liter-1. Gibberellin (GA) reduced the number of flowers differentiated in 1993, thereby reducing fruit density in 1994, when sprays were applied by early July 1993. Sprays in late July did not reduce flowering and fruiting density in the following year. In 1994, there were fewer fruit located on the proximal third of the shoot after GA sprays of 75,100, and 120 mg-liter' applied on 15 June compared to hand-thinned controls, and reduction was linear with increase in GA rate. Fruit numbers in the middle and distal sections of shoots were reduced by all 15 June and some 9 July GA sprays, with fewer fruit as concentration increased. However, the distribution of fruit within shoot sections, after GA treatments during floral differentiation, expressed as a percentage of the total number of fruit along fruiting shoots, showed even fruiting compared with hand thinning. Due to reduced flowering in response to GA treatments in June and early July 1993, the hand-thinning requirement was significantly reduced, with no thinning required in 1994 from 15 June 1993 GA sprays. All sprays applied in early July resulted in 40% to 60% fewer fruit removed during thinning than the nontreated controls. Sprays in late July were ineffective. Sprays of GA applied in mid-June at 50,75, 100, and 120 mg·liter and sprays of 120 mg·liter-1 GA applied in early July (4 days preharvest) increased the firmness of `Loadel' cling peach (about 26% improvement in June sprays) in 1993. The salable yield of fruit (after removal of the undersized fruit) was the same on hand thinned and on non-hand thinned trees treated with GA on 15 June at 50 mg·liter-1. The salable yield of fruit was increased by GA sprays of 50 and 75 mg·liter applied on 9 July 1993 compared to controls. There were no differences in fruit size (by weight or diameter) among the aforementioned treatments and hand thinning. GA sprays of 75,100, and 120 mg-liter' applied on 15 June 1993 tended to reduce salable yield, but fruit size increased with decreased yield. Based on the results obtained in 1993 and 1994, we believe that Release LC has good potential for chemically thinning peaches in California.

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Lingdi Dong, Waltram Ravelombola, Yuejin Weng, Jun Qin, Wei Zhou, Gehendra Bhattarai, Bazgha Zia, Wei Yang, Linqi Shi, Beiquan Mou and Ainong Shi

Previous investigations showed that accumulations of Na+ and Cl in leaves resulted in reductions in chlorophyll content, thereby affecting photosynthesis. Understanding how chlorophyll content evolves over time will help plant breeders to select cowpea genotypes with better tolerance to salinity by allowing them to choose those with more stable chlorophyll content under salt stress. The objective of this study was to assess how the chlorophyll content of cowpea genotypes changed over the course of 24 d of salt stress at the seedling stage. A total of 24 cowpea genotypes with different salt responses were used in this study. The experiment used a split-plot design with salt treatment as the main plot and cowpea genotypes as the subplot. In the main plot, there were two salt treatments: 0 mm (ionized water) and 200 mm NaCl. In the subplot, the cowpea genotypes were arranged as a completely randomized design with three replicates per genotype. The results revealed that: a1) the time × genotype interaction was significant under conditions with and without salt; 2) chlorophyll content slowly decreased in the salt-tolerant genotypes; 3) chlorophyll content slightly increased on day 6 and day 9 of salt stress in both moderate and sensitive genotypes, but it decreased at a faster rate than in the salt-tolerant genotypes; and 4) salt-sensitive genotypes were completely dead on day 24 of salt stress, whereas the salt-tolerant genotypes were able to maintain a significant amount of chlorophyll content. These results can be used to advance breeding programs for salt tolerance in cowpea.