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Zhou Li, Yan Peng and Bingru Huang

Gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a nonprotein amino acid in plant cells, which responds to changes in environmental factors. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of foliar spray of GABA on drought and heat tolerance in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), and to investigate physiological factors altered by GABA application that contribute to improved drought tolerance and heat tolerance. GABA-treated plants (cv. Penncross) or non-GABA-treated control plants were then subjected to the following three treatments in growth chambers: 1) nonstress control [plants irrigated every 2 days to maintain soil water content at the pot capacity and maintained at 21/19 °C (day/night) for 35 days], 2) heat stress [plants exposed to 35/30 °C (day/night) and well-watered conditions for 35 days], and 3) drought stress [plants unirrigated for 9 days and maintained at 21/19 °C (day/night), and then rewatered for 2 days]. As compared with untreated plants, GABA-treated plants showed 22% to 39% and 8% to 21% significantly lower leaf electrolyte leakage (EL) and 35% to 143% and 21% to 24% significantly higher turf quality (TQ), 8% to 17% and 17% to 24% relative water content (RWC), 22% to 39% and 25% to 27% chlorophyll content, 7% to 11% and 6% to 17% photochemical efficiency, and an 84% to 683% and 57% to 76% osmotic adjustment (OA) exposed to heat or drought stress across days of treatment, respectively. GABA-treated plants accumulated 7% to 10% more water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) and 11% to 43% more free proline than nontreated plants under heat stress, and 12% to 30% higher accumulation of WSC under drought stress. After 2 days of rewatering, a significantly better recovery also was observed in GABA-treated plants than that in nontreated plants previously exposed to drought stress. The results suggest that foliar application of GABA significantly improved heat and drought tolerance of creeping bentgrass, which was associated with maintenance of cell membrane stability, delaying in leaf senescence, and enhancing OA. The effectiveness of exogenous GABA application was more pronounced under heat stress than under drought stress.

Open access

Zhou Li, Yan Peng and Bingru Huang

Small molecules, including H2O2 and Ca, mediate stress signaling and drought tolerance in plants. The objective of this study was to determine whether improvement in drought tolerance by H2O2 and Ca were associated with the regulation of transcription factors and stress-protective genes in perennial grass species. Plants of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) were sprayed with water (control), H2O2 (9 mm), or CaCl2 (10 mm) and exposed to drought stress for 20 days in controlled-environment growth chambers. Foliar application of H2O2 or Ca led to significant improvement in drought tolerance of creeping bentgrass, as demonstrated by greater turf quality, leaf relative water content, chlorophyll content, photochemical efficiency, and cell membrane stability, as compared with the untreated control. The application of H2O2 and Ca resulted in significant up-regulation of genes in Ca signaling transduction pathways [Ca-dependent kinase 26 (CDPK26), mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (MAPK1), and 14-3-3] and transcript factors (WRKY75 and MYB13). For genes encoding antioxidant enzymes, H2O2 mainly enhanced superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase (GR), and dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR) expression, while Ca primarily improved transcript levels of SOD, monodehydroascorbate reductase (MDHAR), and GR. In addition, heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), metallothionein 1 (MT1), and glutamine synthetase 2 (GS2) were also markedly up-regulated by H2O2 and Ca under drought stress. However, the transcript level of lipoxygenase 3 (LOX3) was significantly down-regulated by H2O2 and Ca under well-watered and drought conditions. These results imply that H2O2 and Ca commonly or differentially regulate genes expression in association with drought tolerance through activating Ca signaling pathway and regulating transcription factors and stress-protective genes expression, leading to the alleviation of lipid peroxidation, maintenance of correct protein folding and translocation, and enhancement of nitrogen metabolism under a prolonged period of drought stress in creeping bentgrass.

Free access

Rui Zhang, Fang-Ren Peng, Pan Yan, Fan Cao, Zhuang-Zhuang Liu, Dong-Liang Le and Peng-Peng Tan

Root systems of pecan trees are usually dominated by a single taproot with few lateral roots, which are commonly thought to inhibit successful transplanting. This study aimed to evaluate early growth and root/shoot development of pecan seedlings in response to taproot pruning. Taproots of ‘Shaoxing’ seedling pecan trees were mildly (1/3 of the total length of the radicle removed) and severely (2/3 of the total length of the radicle removed) pruned at different seedling development stages shortly after germination. At the end of the first growing season, top growth was measured and then trees were uprooted so that root system regrowth could be evaluated. The results showed that root pruning had no impact on increases in stem height or stem diameter. However, pruning the taproot could stimulate primary growth in taproot branches. Root weight and the number of taproot branches per tree increased with decreasing taproot length. This study indicated that severe root pruning when three to five leaves had emerged resulted in root systems with more taproot branches and the greatest root dry weight after one growth season, which may increase survival and reduce transplanting shock.

Full access

Qin Yang, Er Liu, Yan Fu, Fuqiang Yuan, Tingting Zhang and Shu Peng

After nearly a decade of development, the scale of blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) cultivation has increased, particularly in south China; however, this region is becoming increasingly challenged by temperature changes during the flowering phenophase. Understanding the effects of temperature on pollen germination and pollen tube growth in blueberry is thus important. Using the rabbiteye blueberry (V. ashei) ‘Brightwell’, different temperature treatments were carried out during open pollination and cross-pollination with the pollen from rabbiteye blueberry ‘Gardenblue’ in field, greenhouse, and controlled temperature experiments over two consecutive years. The differences in pollen germination, pollen tube dynamics, and ovule viability following different treatments were analyzed, and the critical temperatures were calculated using quadratic and modified bilinear equations to quantify the developmental responses to temperature. The results showed that the fruit set of the artificially pollinated plants inside the greenhouse was significantly higher than that outside the greenhouse. Furthermore, pollen germination and pollen tube growth gradually accelerated under the appropriate high-temperature range, resulting in reduced pollen tube travel time to the ovule. However, the percentage of the style traversed by the pollen tube did not increase at temperatures greater than 30 °C, and a high-temperature range could accelerate ovule degeneration. Therefore, impairment of pollen tube growth in the upper half of the style following pollen germination and ovule degeneration constituted important factors leading to reduced fruit setting under short periods of high temperature during the flowering phenophase in rabbiteye blueberry. This work advances our understanding of the effect of temperature on pollen germination, pollen tube growth, ovule longevity, and fruit setting in rabbiteye blueberry, and provides a foundation for continued cultivation and breeding enhancement. The findings propose that the tolerance of rabbiteye blueberry to a certain high-temperature range in the flowering phenophase should inform breeding strategies for temperature resistance and that temperature range is also an important indicator of suitable environments for cultivation to mitigate potential temperature stress.

Open access

Qin Yang, Yan Fu, Yalan Liu, Tingting Zhang, Shu Peng and Jie Deng

The xenia effect refers to the phenomenon whereby the pollen genotype directly affects seed and fruit development during the period from fertilization to seed germination, which leads to different characteristics in phenotypic traits. The xenia effect can create differences in the endosperm and embryo formed after double fertilization and can also alter various fruit parameters, such as the fruit-ripening period; the fruit shape, size, and color; the flavor quality, such as sugars and acids; as well as the nutrient quality, such as anthocyanins. The xenia effect manifests in various ways, playing an important role in increasing the yield of fruit trees, improving fruit appearance and internal quality, as well as in directional breeding. Compared with other pomology research areas, our understanding of the xenia effect is still in its infancy. Currently, xenia is classified into two types: xenia and metaxenia. In the former, the direct effects of the pollen genotype are exhibited in the syngamous parts of the ovules; that is, the embryo and endosperm only. In the latter, the effects of the pollen genotype are demonstrated in structures other than the embryo and endosperm; that is, in tissues derived wholly from the mother plant material, in seed parts such as the nucellus and testa, as well as in the carpels and accessory tissues. However, the current classification has various shortcomings. In the present study, we propose a novel classification based on whether the appearance of xenia results from the tissue formed by double fertilization. Three xenia types are proposed: double-fertilization xenia, non–double-fertilization xenia, and combined xenia. The new classification has great theoretical and practical significance for future studies on the xenia effect and its mechanisms and also provides a more effective, broader application of xenia in improving the yield and quality of fruit trees.

Open access

Qing Shen, Hua Bian, Hai-yan Wei, Li Liao, Zhi-yong Wang, Xiao-yan Luo, Xi-peng Ding, Zhenbang Chen and Paul Raymer

Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) is an important warm-season turfgrass distributed in tropical and coastal areas. It has excellent resistance to abiotic stresses, such as salinity, drought, and low temperature. However, the research on genetic diversity of local P. vaginatum collections from China is limited. In this study, the genetic diversity among 58 P. vaginatum accessions from four different provinces in China and four cultivars were assessed using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The results indicated that a total of 45 alleles were detected by 19 polymorphic markers, with a range of 2 to 4 and an average of 2.4 alleles per marker. The genetic similarity coefficients between each pair of the 58 P. vaginatum accessions and four cultivars ranged from 0.51 to 1.00, with an average of 0.77. The range of variation of Shannon diversity index of each SSR marker was 0.047 to 1.075, with an average of 0.486. The polymorphic information content of each SSR marker varies from 0.016 to 0.577, with an average of 0.249. The results of cluster analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) showed that 58 P. vaginatum accessions and four cultivars were divided into four groups. These results provide the theoretical basis for the genetic diversity assessments and molecular marker–assisted breeding of P. vaginatum species.

Free access

Jian-rong Feng, Wan-peng Xi, Wen-hui Li, Hai-nan Liu, Xiao-fang Liu and Xiao-yan Lu

The characterization of aroma of the 14 main apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) cultivars in Xinjiang was evaluated using high-performance solid-phase microextraction (HP-SPME) with gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS). A total of 208 volatiles that include 80 esters, 25 aldehydes, 15 terpenes, 21 ketones, 39 alcohols, 27 olefins, and 1 acid were identified from these cultivars. The compounds propyl acetate, 3-methyl-1-butanol acetate, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol acetate, d-limonene, β-linalool, hexanal, hexyl acetate, butyl acetate, β-myrcene, ethyl butanoate, and β-cis-ocimene were the major compounds responsible for aroma in these cultivars. GC-MS results showed that Kuchexiaobaixing, Guoxiyuluke, and seven other cultivars were characterized by a high level of esters and were considered to be fruity apricot aroma. ‘Luotuohuang’ and ‘Heiyexing’ accumulate high levels of terpenes and exhibited an outstanding floral aroma. Higher levels of alcohols and aldehydes were observed in ‘Danxing’, ‘Sumaiti’, and ‘Kumaiti’. The latter are considered green aroma cultivars. These three types of cultivars with different aroma characteristics can be significantly differentiated by using the principal component analysis (PCA) method. The contributions of volatiles to the apricot aroma were assessed by using the partial least squares regression (PLSR) model. Esters, terpenes, and C6 components were shown to be responsible for the fruity, floral, and green character of fresh apricots, respectively.