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  • Author or Editor: Zhuang-Zhuang Liu x
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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.

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Aquaporin (AQP) proteins serve important roles in regulating water movement across cellular membranes and affect plant responses to drought stress. The objective of this study was to characterize and examine functions of an AQP gene FaPIP2;1, isolated from a drought-tolerant perennial grass species tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), for involvement in leaf dehydration status during water stress by overexpressing the gene in arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). FaPIP2;1 had characteristic transmembrane domains and Asn–Pro–Ala motifs and was similar to PIP2;1 in rice (Oryza sativa) and maize (Zea mays). Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that FaPIP2;1 was upregulated during moderate water stress (hydroponic culture, osmotic potential (ΨS) at −0.47 and −0.78 MPa) and the transcript level decreased as ΨS further decreased. Transgenic arabidopsis plants overexpressing FaPIP2;1 showed greater number of leaves per plant and improved survival rate compared with the wild type (WT) during drought stress. Transgenic plants also maintained higher leaf relative water content (RWC), chlorophyll content (Chl), net photosynthetic rate (Pn), and lower leaf electrolyte leakage (EL) than the WT. However, there was no difference in root length between the transgenic and WT plants following drought stress. The results demonstrated that overexpressing FaPIP2;1 could improve plant tolerance to drought stress by enhancing leaf water status, Chl, and photosynthetic rate, as well as maintaining improved cellular membrane stability relative to the WT plants. FaPIP2;1 may be used as a candidate gene for genetic modification of perennial grasses to develop new drought-tolerant germplasm and cultivars.

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Scion wood of ‘Caddo’ and ‘Desirable’ pecan (Carya illinoinensis) was grafted onto the epicotyl of 1-month-old, open-pollinated ‘Shaoxing’ pecan seedlings for evaluation as a grafting technique to reduce the time to produce grafted trees. The results showed that seedlings grafted with “base scions” had higher survival than those grafted with “terminal scions” for both ‘Caddo’ and ‘Desirable’. Also, grafting with paraffinic tape could achieve greater success rate than that with medical tape. The most ideal time to perform this grafting was late April in Nanjing, China, when pecan seedlings were about 35 days old. This study demonstrated that the technique yielded successful epicotyl grafting of >70%, and it could thus be applied in practice.

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Cytosine methylation plays important roles in regulating gene expression and modulating agronomic traits. In this study, the fluorescence-labeled methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (F-MSAP) technique was used to study variation in cytosine methylation among seven pecan (Carya illinoinensis) cultivars at four developmental stages. In addition, phenotypic variations in the leaves of these seven cultivars were investigated. Using eight primer sets, 22,796 bands and 950 sites were detected in the pecan cultivars at four stages. Variation in cytosine methylation was observed among the pecan cultivars, with total methylation levels ranging from 51.18% to 56.58% and polymorphism rates of 82.29%, 81.73%, 78.64%, and 79.09% being recorded at the four stages. Sufficiently accompanying the polymorphism data, significant differences in phenotypic traits were also observed among the pecan cultivars, suggesting that cytosine methylation may be an important factor underlying phenotypic variation. Hypermethylation was the dominant type of methylation among the four types observed, and full methylation occurred at higher levels than did hemimethylation in the pecan genomes. Cluster analysis and principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) identified Dice coefficients ranging from 0.698 to 0.778, with an average coefficient of 0.735, and the variance contribution rates of the previous three principal coordinates were 19.6%, 19.0%, and 18.2%, respectively. Among the seven pecan cultivars, four groups were clearly classified based on a Dice coefficient of 0.75 and the previous three principal coordinates. Tracing dynamic changes in methylation status across stages revealed that methylation patterns changed at a larger proportion of CCGG sites from the 30% of final fruit-size (30%-FFS) stage to the 70%-FFS stage, with general decreases in the total methylation level, the rate of polymorphism, and specific sites being observed in each cultivar. These results demonstrated that the F-MSAP technique is a powerful tool for quantitatively detecting cytosine methylation in pecan genomes and provide a new perspective for studying many important life processes in pecan.

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Head splitting resistance (HSR) in cabbage is an important trait closely related to appearance, yield, storability, and mechanical harvestability. In this study, a doubled haploid (DH) population derived from a cross between head splitting-susceptible inbred cabbage line 79-156 and resistant line 96-100 was used to analyze inheritance and detect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for HSR during 2011–12 in Beijing, China. The analysis was performed using a mixed major gene/polygene inheritance method and QTL mapping. This approach, which uncovered no cytoplasmic effect, indicated that HSR can be attributed to additive-epistatic effects of three major gene pairs combined with those of polygenes. Major gene and polygene heritabilities were estimated to be 88.03% to 88.22% and 5.65% to 7.60%, respectively. Using the DH population, a genetic map was constructed with simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers anchored on nine linkage groups spanning 906.62 cM. Eight QTLs for HSR were located on chromosomes C4, C5, C7, and C9 based on 2 years of phenotypic data using both multiple-QTL mapping and inclusive composite interval mapping. The identified QTLs collectively explained 37.6% to 46.7% of phenotypic variation. Three or four major QTLs (Hsr 4.2, 7.2, 9.3, and/or 9.1) showing a relatively larger effect were robustly detected in different years or with different mapping methods. The HSR trait was shown to have a complex genetic basis. Results from QTL mapping and classical genetic analysis were consistent. Our results provide a foundation for further research on HSR genetic regulation and molecular marker-assisted selection (MAS) for HSR in cabbage.

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