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  • Author or Editor: Xin Chen x
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Improving the poor resistance to environmental stress and the weak development of roots system in the cherry (Prunus) rootstock ‘Gisela 6’ (Prunus cerasus × Prunus canescens) is of great importance for sustainable sweet cherry (Prunus avium) production. Although a stable genetic transformation system has been developed for ‘Gisela 6’ rootstock, there is little information on the identification of genes involved in stress resistance. Using the cherry rootstock cultivar Gisela 6, we identified a total of 12 novel mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) genes, designated PcMPKs. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the PcMPKs could be divided into four groups, designated A, B, C, and D. In addition, an intron–exon structure analysis for the PcMPKs was conducted to help further understand the structure–function relationships within the cherry family. The expression profiles of PcMPKs in response to abiotic and biotic stresses were characterized using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Five PcMPKs (i.e., PcMPK4-1, PcMPK4-2, PcMPK3, PcMPK6, and PcMPK18) exhibited differential expression, and suggested their potential roles in plant responding to various stresses. This study provides the basis for further analysis on the physiological functions of PcMPKs in environmental tolerance in cherry rootstocks.

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Reclaimed water provides a reliable and economical alternative source of irrigation water for landscape use but may have elevated levels of salts that are detrimental to sensitive landscape plants. Landscape professionals must use salt-tolerant plants in regions where reclaimed water is used. Ornamental grasses are commonly used as landscape plants in the Intermountain West of the United States due to low maintenance input, drought tolerance, and unique texture. Six ornamental grass species, including Acorus gramineus (Japanese rush), Andropogon ternarius (silver bluestem), Calamagrostis ×acutiflora (feather reed grass), Carex morrowii (Japanese sedge), Festuca glauca (blue fescue), and Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed), were evaluated for salinity tolerance. Plants were irrigated every 4 days with a fertilizer solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m–1 (control) or with a saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m–1 (EC 5) or 10.0 dS·m–1 (EC 10). At 47 days, most species in EC 5 exhibited good visual quality with averaged visual scores greater than 4.6 (0 = dead, 5 = excellent). In EC 10, most A. gramineus plants died, but C. ×acutiflora, F. glauca, and S. heterolepis had no foliar salt damage. At 95 days, C. ×acutiflora, F. glauca, and S. heterolepis in EC 5 had good visual quality with averaged visual scores greater than 4.5. Acorus gramineus, A. ternarius, and C. morrowii showed foliar salt damage with averaged visual scores of 2.7, 3.2, and 3.4, respectively. In EC 10, A. gramineus died, and other grass species exhibited moderate to severe foliar salt damage, except C. ×acutiflora, which retained good visual quality. Plant height, leaf area, number of tillers, shoot dry weight, and/or gas exchange parameters also decreased depending on plant species, salinity level, and the duration of exposure to salinity stress. In conclusion, A. gramineus was the most salt-sensitive species, whereas C. ×acutiflora was the most salt-tolerant species. Festuca glauca and S. heterolepis were more tolerant to salinity than A. ternarius and C. morrowii. Calamagrostis ×acutiflora, F. glauca, and S. heterolepis appear to be more suitable for landscapes in which reclaimed water is used for irrigation. Plant responses to saline water irrigation in this research could also be applied to landscapes in salt-prone areas and coastal regions with saltwater intrusion into aquifers and landscapes affected by maritime salt spray.

Open Access

Much nitrogen (N) is lost in high-input protected cropping systems mainly via leaching of not only nitrate-N but also extractable organic N (EON), but the role of EON in this process is poorly appreciated. A consecutive 3-year plot experiment was conducted to investigate the impact of co-application of manures with chemical N fertilizer on N accumulation and loss in a greenhouse soil rotationally planted with cucumber or tomato and lettuce. Application of manures significantly enhanced the average contents and stocks of NO3 -N, EON, and total N (TN) in 0- to 60-cm soil layer, although EON accumulated within growing season, while NO3 -N accumulated with fluctuation, and TN accumulated gradually throughout the 3-year experiment. With application rate at 120 or 180 t dry manures per hectare per 3 years, the corresponding apparent N surplus was 2710 or 3924 kg⋅ha−1 per 3 years. Due to little increase of biomass N uptakes during vegetable seasons, the accumulated N in soil profile would be a potential loss source, largely via leaching of both nitrate and EON. Application of manures slowed soil acidification but intensified secondary salinization of the greenhouse soil. Considering the manures-induced high soil N accumulation and loss, well-balanced evaluation of the role of manures in high-input agricultural ecosystems is needed.

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Landrace tea populations are important recourses for germplasm conservation and selection of elite tea clone cultivars. To understand their genetic diversity and use them effectively for breeding, two traditional landrace tea populations, Beichuan Taizicha (BCTZ) and Nanjiang Dayecha (NJDY), localized to northern Sichuan, were evaluated for morphological characters, simple sequence repeat (SSR)–based DNA markers and the contents of biochemical components. A wide range of morphological variation and a moderately high level of DNA polymorphism were observed from both BCTZ and NJDY. NJDY had on average, bigger leaves, larger flowers, higher total catechins (TCs), and greater gene diversity (GD) than BCTZ. Interestingly, samples from BCTZ had a wide range in the ratio of galloylated catechins to nongalloylated catechins (G/NG) (1.83–8.12, cv = 48.8%), whereas samples from NJDY were more variable in total amino acid (TAA) content (25.3–50.8 mg·g−1 dry weight) than those from BCTZ. We concluded that the two Camellia sinensis landrace populations are of great interest for both individual selection breeding and scientific studies.

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Pear (Pyrus spp.) is the third-largest economic crop in China after apples (Malus pumila Mill.) and citrus (Citrus reticulata Blanco), and it is mainly cultivated by smallholders. Currently, the yield of Chinese pear ranks midlevel globally, with only 17.9 t⋅ha−1⋅year−1, which is lower than that of the United States (36.0 t⋅ha−1⋅year−1). However, the factors limiting pear production dominated by smallholders are unclear. We interviewed 75 smallholders about 18 yield-related indicators for pear-typical planting areas. The boundary line model was used to analyze the contribution of internal factors and dominant external factors affecting yield and to simulate strategies for increasing yield through the scenario analysis. The results showed that the average gap between the average and highest attainable yields for smallholders was 10.5 t⋅ha−1⋅year−1 in Luniao County. Among individual yield-limiting factors, chemical fertilizer nitrogen (N) input (13.3%) was the most significant, followed by the soil-available N content (12.0%) and leaf magnesium content (12.0%). Overall, the contribution of all soil factors (42.7%) was the largest compared with the other factor categories. However, the contribution of internal factors could not be ignored and accounted for 25.3% of the total. A scenario analysis showed that comprehensive strategies considering soil, management, and internal factors achieved the largest yield improvement (14%), as did reducing the fertilizer application rate (66%) compared with only using soil or leaf diagnosis methods. Therefore, integrated methods should be considered when developing pear orchard management measures and include soil, management, and internal factors.

Open Access