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Hongmei Du, Zhaolong Wang, Wenjuan Yu, and Bingru Huang

The accumulation of different types of metabolites may reflect variations in plant adaptation to different severities or durations of drought stress. The objectives of this project are to examine changes in metabolomic profiles and determine predominant metabolites in response to short-term (6 days) and long-term (18 days) drought stress with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis in a C4 perennial grass species. Plants of hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis cv. Tifdwarf) were unirrigated for 18 days to induce drought stress in growth chambers. Physiological responses to drought stress were evaluated by visual rating of grass quality, relative water content, photochemical efficiency, and electrolyte leakage (EL). All parameters decreased significantly at 6 and 18 days of drought stress, except EL, which increased with the duration of drought stress. Under short-term drought stress (6 days), the content did not change significantly for most metabolites, except methionine, serine, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), isoleucine, and mannose. Most metabolites showed higher accumulation under long-term drought stress compared with that under the well-watered conditions, including three organic acids (malic acid, galacturonic acid, and succinic acid), 10 amino acids (proline, asparagine, phenylalanine, methionine, serine, 5-hydroxynorvaline, GABA, glycine, theorine, valine), seven sugars (sucrose, glucose, galactose, fructose, mannose, maltose, xylose), one nitrogen compound (ethanolamine), and two-sugar alcohol (myo-inositol). The accumulation of those metabolites, especially malic acid, proline, and sucrose, could be associated with drought adaptation of C4 hybrid bermudagrass to long-term or severe drought stress.

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Jingjin Yu, Hongmei Du, Ming Xu, and Bingru Huang

Heat is a major factor limiting growth of C3 grass species. Elevated CO2 may mitigate the adverse effects of heat stress or enhance heat tolerance. The objective of this study was to determine metabolic changes associated with improvement of heat tolerance by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). Plants (cv. Rembrandt) were exposed to ambient day/night temperature (25/20 °C) or heat stress (35/30 °C) and ambient CO2 concentration (400 ± 10 μmol·mol−1) or double ambient CO2 concentration (800 ± 10 μmol·mol−1) in growth chambers. Turf quality (TQ), shoot growth rate, and leaf electrolyte leakage results demonstrated that heat stress at ambient CO2 concentration inhibits turf growth and reduces cell membrane stability, whereas heat-stressed plants under elevated CO2 concentration exhibit improved TQ, shoot growth rate, and membrane stability. Plants exposed to heat stress under elevated CO2 exhibited a significantly greater amount of several organic acids (shikimic acid, malonic acid, threonic acid, glyceric acid, galactaric acid, and citric acid), amino acids (serine, valine, and 5-oxoproline), and carbohydrates (sucrose and maltose) compared with heat-stressed plants at ambient CO2. The increased production or maintenance of metabolites with important biological functions such as those involved in photosynthesis, respiration, and protein metabolism could play a role in elevated CO2 mitigation of heat stress damage. Therefore, elevated CO2 conditions may contribute to improved heat stress tolerance as exhibited by better TQ and shoot growth of heat-stressed plants. Practices to harness the power of CO2 may be incorporated into turfgrass management for plant adaptation to increasing temperatures, particularly during summer months.

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Huai-Fu Fan, Wen Chen, Zhou Yu, and Chang-Xia Du

Salt stress reduces the fresh weight, dry weight, and relative growth rate of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) seedlings and results in serious quality loss in cucumber production. Our previous study indicated that the netting-associated peroxidase (CsaNAPOD) protein in cucumber seedling roots was induced by salt stress. Here, we amplified the coding sequence of CsaNAPOD from a cDNA isolated from the roots of cucumber seedlings. Sequence analysis indicated that the coding sequence of CsaNAPOD is 1035 bp, encoding a deduced protein of 344 amino acids, with a predicated molecular weight of 37.2 kD and theoretical isoelectric point of 5.64. The deduced amino acid sequence of CsaNAPOD showed high sequence similarity to peroxidases (PODs) from other plant species. Moreover, CsaNAPOD possesses the typical sequence structures of class III PODs and indicated that CsaNAPOD belongs to this subfamily. CsaNAPOD was highly expressed in the roots and was weakly expressed in the stems and leaves of cucumber seedlings. Salt stress significantly increased the expression of CsaNAPOD in the leaves during the entire experimental period compared with the control, and the expression of CsaNAPOD in roots was reduced at 6 hours and induced at 48 and 72 hours by salt treatment. In stems, the expression of CsaNAPOD declined at 48 and 72 hours as a result of the salt treatment compared with the control. These results indicate that the expression of CsaNAPOD responded to salt stress in cucumber seedlings, and the expression patterns under salt stress in different tissues were not identical. Our research suggests that CsaNAPOD may have potential function during the plant response to salt stress.

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Yuan Yu, Chunxian Chen, Ming Huang, Qibin Yu, Dongliang Du, Matthew R. Mattia, and Frederick G. Gmitter Jr.

Citrus (Citrus sp.) germplasm collections are a valuable resource for citrus genetic breeding studies, and further utilization of the resource requires knowledge of their genotypic and phylogenetic relationships. Diverse citrus accessions, including citron (Citrus medica), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), pummelo (Citrus maxima), papeda (Papeda sp.), trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata), kumquat (Fortunella sp.), and related species, have been housed at the Florida Citrus Arboretum, Winter Haven, FL, but the accessions in the collection have not been genotyped. In this study, a collection of 80 citrus accessions were genotyped using 1536 sweet orange–derived single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, to determine their SNP fingerprints and to assess genetic diversity, population structure, and phylogenetic relationships, and thereby to test the efficiency of using the single genotype-derived SNP chip with relatively low cost for these analyses. Phylogenetic relationships among the 80 accessions were determined by multivariate analysis. A model-based clustering program detected five basic groups and revealed that C. maxima introgressions varied among mandarin cultivars and segregated in mandarin F1 progeny. In addition, reciprocal differences in C. maxima contributions were observed among citranges (Citrus sinensis × P. trifoliata vs. P. trifoliata × C. sinensis) and may be caused by the influence of cytoplasmic DNA and its effect on selection of cultivars. Inferred admixture structures of many secondary citrus species and important cultivars were confirmed or revealed, including ‘Bergamot’ sour orange (Citrus aurantium), ‘Kinkoji’ (C. reticulata × Citrus paradisi), ‘Hyuganatsu’ orange (Citrus tamurana), and palestine sweet lime (Citrus aurantifolia). The relatively inexpensive SNP array used in this study generated informative genotyping data and led to good consensus and correlations with previously published observations based on whole genome sequencing (WGS) data. The genotyping data and the phylogenetic results may facilitate further exploitation of interesting genotypes in the collection and additional understanding of phylogenetic relationships in citrus.

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Xun Chen, Nai-xin Liu, Li-juan Fan, Yu Du, and Ling Wang