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  • Author or Editor: Yi Ren x
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Coir is used around the world as a cultivation medium for plants; its commercial popularity is the result of its availability, low cost, and environmentally friendly characteristics. It is used as a medium in the hydroponic cultivation of Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum Lind.) in Taiwan and is a new source for cut flower production around the world. Little is known about the nutrient requirements of Anthurium cultivated in coir under fluctuating climatic conditions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influences of various nitrogen (N) concentrations on the growth and nutrient uptake of Anthurium cultivated in coir under different seasonal conditions. Four levels of N concentration in nutrient solution were used: 79 mg·L−1 (NS79 treatment), 105 mg·L−1 (NS105 treatment), 158 mg·L−1 (NS158 treatment), and 210 mg·L−1 (NS210 treatment) with NS105 serving as the control. The effects of N concentration and seasonal fluctuations on Anthurium were measured in dry weight, leaf growth, flower growth, and nutrient uptake at different growth stages during the 2-year study period. The results show that the dry weight, leaf area, and flower number were higher in plants receiving NS105 and NS158 treatments than those receiving NS79 and NS210 treatments. However, the NS158-treated plants produced better quality cut flowers than the NS105-treated plants in the first year of cultivation as indicated by their wider, circular spathe. Retarded growth of NS79-treated Anthurium was the product of insufficient N supply and reduced carbon (C) assimilation. The excess supply of N in the NS210 treatment resulted in small potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) uptakes, which in turn resulted in poor growth in the second year of cultivation. However, the nutrient supplies in the NS158 and NS210 treatments yielded better Anthurium growth during the initial stage than the NS79- or NS105-treated groups. Regardless of plant growth, flower yield, and nutrient uptake, there were significant interactions between N treatments and seasonal fluctuations in subtropical conditions during year-round cultivation. We concluded that the limiting factor in Anthurium growth and yield during the spring and summer is the N supply, whereas climate conditions are the limiting factor during the fall and winter.

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Because of the growing threat of global warming, drought stress could severely affect the normal growth and development of crop plants. To alleviate such an adverse effect, there is a need to screen watermelon germplasm collections to identify genetic sources for potential drought tolerance. In the present study, 820 accessions of USDA's Citrullus PIs and 246 watermelon breeding lines were evaluated for their drought tolerance at the seedling stage under extreme water stress conditions in a greenhouse. Significant variations in drought tolerance were observed in the Citrullus germplasm collections. Using fast clustering analysis, the tested watermelon materials could be assigned into four groups, including tolerant, intermediate tolerant, moderately sensitive, and sensitive, respectively. The most drought-tolerant Citrullus germplasm, including 13 Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus and 12 C. lanatus var. citroides accessions, were originated from Africa. These genetic materials could be used for rootstock breeding or for developing drought-tolerant watermelon cultivars.

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Powdery mildew of cucurbits, incited by Podosphaera xanthii (Castagne) Braun & Shishkoff (syn. Sphaerotheca fuliginea auct. p.p.), is an economically important foliar disease. which is now common in watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mastum. & Nakai]. This disease occurs in all watermelon-growing areas and can reduce yields by up to 30%. Finding and breeding for resistance to this disease is important to reduce dependence on fungicides and to use in combination with fungicides to limit the spread of fungicide-resistant P. xanthii. This is the first English report that race 2WF of P. xanthii can infect watermelon. It is the prevalent race of watermelon powdery mildew in Beijing.

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Cold stress is one of the most important environmental factors affecting crop growth and agricultural production. Induced changes of gene expression and metabolism are critical for plants responding and acclimating to cold stress. Banana (Musa sp.) is one of the most important food crops in the tropical and subtropical countries of the world. Banana, which originated from tropical regions, is sensitive to cold, which can result in serious losses in commercial banana production. To investigate the response of the banana to cold stress conditions, changes in protein expression were analyzed using a comparative proteomics approach. ‘Brazil’ banana (Musa acuminata AAA group) is a common banana cultivar in southern China. ‘Brazil’ banana plantlets were exposed to 5 °C for 24 hours and then total crude protein was extracted from treatment and control leaves by phenol extraction, separated with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, and subsequently identified by mass spectrometry (MS). Out of the more than 400 protein spots reproducibly detected, only 41 protein spots exhibited a change in intensity by at least 2-fold, with 26 proteins increasing and 15 proteins decreasing expression. Of these, 28 differentially expressed proteins were identified by MS. The identified proteins, including well-known and novel cold-responsive proteins, are involved in several cellular processes, including antioxidation and antipathogen, photosynthesis, chaperones, protein synthesis, signal transduction, energy metabolism, and other cellular functions. Proteins related to antioxidation, pathogen resistance, molecular chaperones, and energy metabolism were up-regulated, and proteins related to ethylene synthesis, protein synthesis, and epigenetic modification were down-regulated in response to cold temperature treatment. The banana plantlets incubated at cold temperatures demonstrated major changes in increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging, defense against diseases, and energy supply. Increased antioxidation capability in banana was also discovered in plantain, which has greater cold tolerance than banana in response to cold stress conditions. Therefore, we hypothesized that an increased antioxidation ability could be a common characteristic of banana and plantain in response to cold stress conditions. These findings may provide a better understanding of the physiological processes of banana in response to cold stress conditions.

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Yellow-leafed cultivars usually do not grow as vigorous as their green-leafed counterparts, which affect their use in landscapes. To breed Forsythia cultivars with both yellow leaves and vigorous growth, crosses between F. ‘Courtaneur’ (♀) and Forsythia koreana ‘Suwon Gold’ (♂) were conducted, and 52 F1 hybrid progenies with different leaf colors (green, chartreuse, and yellow) were obtained. The progenies were categorized into three groups [Yellow Group (YG), Chartreuse Group (CG), and Green Group (GG)] based on leaf colors. The growth index (GI) and the number of branches and leaves of YG progenies were significantly lower at 2%, 35%, and 34% of GG progenies. As the leaves changed from green to chartreuse and to yellow, chlorophyll content, leaf thickness, and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters decreased and the chloroplast structures were disintegrated gradually, which influenced the leaf photosynthetic activity and led to weak growth. Compared with yellow-leafed progenies, the leaf chlorophyll content and leaf thickness of chartreuse-leafed progenies were significantly higher at 71% and 9%. The chloroplast structure of stroma lamella of chartreuse-leafed progenies was relatively intact. Carboxylation efficiency (CE), photochemical efficiency of PS II (F v/F m), and the number of branches and leaves of GG progenies were significantly higher than YG progenies; however, they have no significant difference with CG progenies. The results were promising for breeding new forsythia cultivars from moderate growth and chartreuse leaves.

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Watermelon belongs to the genus Citrullus. There have been continuing interests in breeding of watermelon for economic benefits, but information on the scope and utilization of genetic variations in Citrullus is still limited. The present study was conducted in 2012–13, to evaluate the genetic diversity and population structure of the 1197 line watermelon collection maintained by the Beijing Vegetable Research Center (BVRC), which belongs to seven Citrullus species including Citrullus naudinianus, Citrullus colocynthis, Citrullus rehmii, Citrullus ecirrhosus, Citrullus amarus, Citrullus mucosospermus, and Cirullus lanatus subsp. vulgaris. Twenty-three highly informative microsatellite markers evenly distributed in the watermelon genome were used to assess genetic diversity in this collection. The markers detected on an average of 6.05 alleles per locus with the average value of polymorphism information content (PIC) at 0.49. A high level of gene diversity [Nei’s gene diversity index (Nei) = 0.56] and a low observed heterozygosity (H o = 0.10) were revealed within the collection. Structure analysis grouped the 1197 accessions into two main populations (Pop I and Pop II) and an admixture group. Pop I contained 450 accessions from C. lanatus subsp. vulgaris (446) and C. mucosospermus (4). Pop II comprised 465 accessions, 379 of which belonged to C. lanatus subsp. vulgaris and 86 to C. naudinianus (3), C. ecirrhosus (2), C. rehmii (2), C. colocynthis (11), C. amarus (58), and C. mucosospermus (10). The remaining 282 accessions were classified as an admixture group. The two main populations were further subdivided into four subgroups. The groupings were consistent with the estimation of F statistics (F st) and Nei’s genetic distances in collections. We confirmed the distinct genetic backgrounds between American and East Asian ecotypes. Subsequently, we defined a core set consisting of 130 accessions including 47 from Pop I, 68 from Pop II, and 15 from the Admixture group. This core set was able to capture all 133 alleles detected by 23 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) in 1197 accessions. These results will facilitate efficient use of genetic variations in Citrullus in watermelon breeding and help optimization of accessions in genomewide association studies.

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Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is an important horticultural crop that is sensitive to heavy metals such as lead (Pb) in polluted water or soil. However, there are no available data regarding Pb tolerance phenotyping in watermelon. Watermelon seedlings were exposed to various Pb doses (0, 20, 40, 60, 80 µm·L–1 Pb) for 14 days, after which 20 µm Pb was identified as the optimal treatment for lead tolerance analysis in watermelon because it caused significant symptoms (leaf chlorosis, stubby and yellow roots) but little damage to seedlings. Subsequently, the Pb responses were analyzed in eight watermelon varieties (V1–V8), and membership function analysis was used to determine a single Pb tolerance index. Of the eight watermelon varieties, V4 and V7 were ranked the most Pb tolerant; V1, V2, V5, and V6 were moderately Pb tolerant; and V3 and V8 were the most Pb-sensitive varieties. Compared with most Pb-sensitive varieties (V3 and V8), the most Pb-tolerant varieties (V4 and V7) maintained high antioxidant activity, and had lower malondialdehyde (MDA) and total soluble protein (TSP) contents. In addition, carotenoid and chlorophyll (both a and b) contents were stimulated and inhibited, respectively, in leaves of high-Pb translocation varieties (V4 and V8). Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed relative root length as an indicator of Pb tolerance because it correlated significantly with shoot growth. These results provide useful insight into the mechanism of Pb tolerance in cucurbit crops, as well as information regarding the breeding of watermelon with enhanced tolerance to this heavy metal (Pb).

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