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Ruigang Wu, Yi Wang, Ting Wu, Xuefeng Xu, and Zhenhai Han

MYB (v-myb avian myeloblastosis viral oncogene homologs) transcription factors (TFs) are involved in diverse physiological processes, including cell shape determination, cell differentiation, and secondary metabolism, as well as abiotic stress response. In the present study, MdMYB4, an R2R3-MYB protein that is a homolog of Arabidopsis thaliana MYB4, was identified and characterized. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) expression analysis demonstrated that MdMYB4 is extensively expressed in various apple (Malus domestica) tissues and that its expression is induced by cold, osmotic, and salt stress. An MdMYB4-GFP fusion protein was localized in the nucleus of transformed onion (Allium cepa) epidermal cells and had a certain transcriptional activation activity by yeast one-hybrid assay. Overexpression of the MdMYB4 gene remarkably enhanced the tolerance of stably transgenic apple calli to severe salt and cold stress, and both the relative conductivity and malondialdehyde (MDA) accumulation of transgenic calli under salt and cold stress were significantly lower than in the wild type control. Taken together, these results suggest that MdMYB4 may play a positive regulatory role in both cold and salt stress responses.

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Haishan An, Feixiong Luo, Ting Wu, Yi Wang, Xuefeng Xu, Xinzhong Zhang, and Zhenhai Han

Fine root (≤2 mm in diameter) systems play a pivotal role in water and mineral uptake in higher plants. However, the impact of fine root architecture on tree growth and development is not fully understood, especially in apple trees. Here, we summarize a 6-year-trial study using minirhizotrons to investigate the relationships between fine root production, mortality, and longevity in ‘Red Fuji’ trees grafted on five different rootstocks/interstems. Based on root length density (RLD), fine root production and mortality were markedly lower in ‘Red Fuji’ trees growing on dwarfing M.9 (M.9) and Shao series no. 40 (SH.40) rootstocks than in trees on standard Malus robusta ‘Baleng Crab’ (BC) rootstock. The use of M.9 and SH.40 as interstems led to an extensive reduction in fine root production and mortality in comparison with BC rootstock. Root number density (RND), but not average root length (ARL), showed similar patterns to RLD. About one-half of fine roots in ‘Red Fuji’ tree growing on M.9 were scattered within the top 0–20 cm of topsoil, indicating shallow root system in M.9, whereas in trees on BC, 55.15% of fine roots were distributed between 100- and 150-cm soil depth, indicating a deep root architecture. The addition of interstems did not alter fine root soil-depth distribution. For all rootstocks/interstems, fine roots with a life span of less than 80 days were generated in spring and summer, but fine roots which lived for more than 81 days were produced almost all the year round. In conclusion, lower fine root numbers were associated with the dwarfing effect in dwarfing rootstocks/interstems, but ARL and shallower rooting were not.

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Wanmei Jin, Jing Dong, Yuanlei Hu, Zhongping Lin, Xuefeng Xu, and Zhenhai Han

Dehydration response element binding (DREB)1b is a cold-inducible transcription factor in Arabidopsis thaliana. DREB1b driven by cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter was genetically introduced into grape Vitis vinifera L. cv. Centennial Seedless through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation for improving its cold resistance and exploring new genetic breeding approaches to obtain cold-resistant cultivars. In this study, Southern blot analysis showed the DREB1b gene was integrated into the transgenic grapevines with one to two copies. Northern blot analysis showed the presence of DREB1b transcripts in the independent transgenic lines 3, 5, 6, and 7. Further characterization of transgenic grapevines confirmed that both electrolyte leakage conductivity and the freezing point of the transgenic plants were lower than those of wild-type plants. After the cold treatment at –4 °C for 12 h, 26% of transgenic plants wilted among which 95% plants recovered once being placed under the condition of temperature 22 to 25 °C. However, subjected to the same treatment, 98% of nontransgenic plants wilted and only 2% recovered. Our results lead to the conclusion that activity of DREB1b in the transgenic grape could significantly improve its resistance to cold stress.

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Chenping Zhou, Ruiting Chen, Yaqiang Sun, He Wang, Yi Wang, Ting Wu, Xinzhong Zhang, Xuefeng Xu, and Zhenhai Han

Bridge grafting is widely applied in trunk-wounded apple trees. In this study, we carried out semigirdling and ring girdling on the trunk of ‘Nagafu 2’/Malus baccata (L.) Borkh apple trees to simulate trunk injury. We then bridge grafted a M9 self-rooted rootstock on the injured trunks to study the effects of bridge grafting on flowering, fruit-set, tree vigor, and fruit characteristics in ‘Nagafu 2’ apple. The results showed that both semigirdling and ring girdling due to the large wounded area caused significant decrease in flowering, fruit-set, and tree vigor (estimated by measuring leaf area, leaf gas exchange, tree height, and shoot growth); in addition, ring girdling increased flesh and peel firmness. However, bridge grafting of M9 self-rooted rootstock on semigirdling and girdling apple trees resulted in partial recovery of tree vigor (leaf area and photosynthesis) and maintaining the reduction of vegetative growth, thereby increasing flowering, fruit-set, yield, fruit weight, and peel firmness.