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Danqing Li, Jiao Zhang, Jiaping Zhang, Kang Li and Yiping Xia

Iris (Iris sp.) is a popular and widely planted herbaceous perennial. However, most iris species go dormant without any aesthetic quality for 5–6 months in the transition zone between the temperate and subtropical climates. To investigate the effects of species/cultivars, leaf shape, and air temperature conditions on the ability to stay green, 12 popular species and cultivars in the transition zone were evaluated. Iris tested included the following species: roof iris (I. tectorum), japanese iris (I. japonica), long leafed flag (I. halophila), yellow flag (I. pseudacorus), blood iris (I. sanguinea), japanese water iris (I. ensata), and small-flower iris (I. speculatrix) and the following cultivars: ‘Chinensis’ milky iris (I. lactea var. chinensis), ‘Bryce Leigh’ louisiana iris (I. hexagonae), ‘Black Swan’ german iris (I. germanica), ‘Careless Sally’ siberian iris (I. sibirica), and ‘Loyalty’ japanese water iris (I. ensata). We conducted a 2-year field study on mature iris populations and evaluated the percentage of green leaves during winter retention and spring recovery using a digital image analysis (DIA). Green period during this study was calculated using predicted sigmoid curves based on the percentage of green leaves. The present study revealed that iris species/cultivars and air temperatures had considerable influence on the duration of the green period. Both evergreen and deciduous iris phenotypes exist with three different leaf shapes, among which the average green period of fan-shaped leaf iris species and cultivars was the longest. Because there was no significant (P = 0.205) relationship between green period during this period and leaf lethal temperature (LT50), new cultivars with long green periods may be achieved without a simultaneous loss of cold tolerance in iris.

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Mohamed S. Elmongy, Xiuyun Wang, Hong Zhou and Yiping Xia

Auxins and humic acid (HA) were investigated for their roles in adventitious root induction in azalea microshoots in our previous study. To reveal the regulatory mechanisms of auxins and HA in this process, measurements of the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), carbohydrates, and phenolic compounds and gene expression during in vitro root development were performed. During the adventitious root induction process, ROS levels in shoots treated with auxins and HA increased compared to untreated shoots, especially during the earliest period after transfer to the media. Media supplemented with NAA experienced increases in H2O2 contents by 480%and 250%, respectively, after 7 and 14 days of culture. The phenolic compound levels were also enhanced in the shoots treated with auxins and HA, reflecting the different rooting-promoting abilities of both auxins and HA. The highest levels of total phenolic [68.6 mg·g−1 fresh weight (FW)], polyphenolic acids (121.72 μg caffic acid/g FW), and total flavonols (162.42 μg quercetin/g FW) were recorded after 21 days for NAA media, but the maximum levels of anthocyanins (49.76 μg cyanindin/g FW) were recorded after 21 days for IBA medium. Soluble carbohydrate, starch, and soluble protein levels were increased in the shoots treated with all treatments; however, the influence of NAA treatments was stronger than that of other treatments for most investigated parameters. The NAA significantly enhanced soluble carbohydrates by 30%, 37%, and 25%, respectively, at 14, 21, and 28 days compared with untreated microshoots. Expression of the POD1 gene increased in the shoots submitted to HA treatment media. Expression levels of auxin response factors (ARFs) increased with IBA- and NAA-treated explants, suggesting that ARFs may have diverse regulatory roles in adventitious root induction in evergreen azalea. Moreover, the profiles of the IAA1, IAA9, IAA14, and IAA27 transcripts were analyzed to reveal their roles in the adventitious rooting of evergreen azalea microshoots. These results indicate that auxins and HA promote adventitious root induction in Rhododendron plants through their impact on ROS, carbohydrate contents, phenolic compound levels, and expression levels of different genes related to root development in evergreen azalea plants.

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Bing Liu, Hong Zhou, Sha Cao, Yi-ping Xia and Rajeev Arora

Seasonal deacclimation was investigated during Jan. to Mar. 2014 in leaves of 10 azalea cultivars (Rhododendron section Tsutsusi) under natural conditions in eastern China. Based on the midwinter leaf freezing tolerance (LFT), these cultivars were grouped as “more-hardy” vs. “less-hardy.” Eight of the 10 cultivars first showed deacclimation when daily mean temperature over 2-week period preceding the LFT measurement was ≈9.5 °C. Deacclimation for other two cultivars was somewhat delayed and might have involved deacclimation–reacclimation cycling before eventual deacclimation. Our data indicate that the “more-hardy” group deacclimated slower than the “less-hardy” ones over the first half of the deacclimation period. This trend reversed during the second half of the deacclimation period. Accordingly, “more-hardy” and “less-hardy” cultivars depicted a “curvilinear” and “reverse curvilinear/linear” deacclimation kinetics. “More-hardy” cultivars generally had higher total soluble sugars (TSS) than “less-hardy” ones at acclimated state. TSS declined during deacclimation in all cultivars, and the loss was positively correlated with the loss in LFT. Leaf starch content generally followed opposite trend to that of TSS, i.e., it was at lowest during acclimated state and increased during deacclimation.