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Khalid Ibrahim and John Juvik

Vegetables are a rich source of dietary carotenoids and tocopherols, powerful antioxidants that have the capacity to protect cells against oxidative damage caused by free radical reactions. There is evidence for a negative correlation between the incidence of certain types of cancer, age-related macular degeneration, cataract development, and cardiovascular disease with increased carotenoid and tocopherol intake. Development of elite vegetable germplasm with enhanced levels of these phytochemicals will potentially promote health among the consuming public. To assess the feasibility for genetic improvement in phytochemical content, it is necessary to partition the phenotypic variability into its component sources (genotype, environment, and genotype by environment interaction). To provide data for comparison and partition of phenotypic variation, 41 sweet corn and 13 broccoli genotypes were grown and harvested in one location for 3 years and analyzed for phytochemical content by HPLC. The most abundant form of carotenoids and tocopherols were lutein and gamma-tocopherol in sweet corn and beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol in broccoli. Analysis of variance showed that, in sweet corn, the differences among genotypes described most of the phenotypic variation (76% for lutein, and 78% for gamma-tocopherol). Genotype by year interaction was a second significant factor, while variation affiliated with the year was found to be a minor component. In contrast, in broccoli, the three sources of variability contributed equally to describe the total phenotypic variation for beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol. These results suggest that elite sweet corn and broccoli germplasm with improved carotenoid and tocopherol levels can be developed using conventional breeding protocols.

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Amanda Wiberg, Richard Koenig and Teresa Cerny-Koenig

Popular press articles report that consumers often experience inconsistent results with retail potting media; however, few reports in the popular or scientific literature have quantified the variability in media properties. The purpose of this study was to assess the variability in physical and chemical properties among different brands of retail potting media and within certain brands. Twenty-four different packages of branded media, and multiple packages of five brands, were acquired from nine regional and national retail chain stores located in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area. Samples were analyzed for five physical and nine chemical properties. The coefficients of variation (cvs) among brands for initial gravimetric water content, bulk density, porosity, water retention, and air space were 85%, 74%, 21%, 59%, and 44%, respectively. The cvs among brands for saturated media (SM) pH, SM extract electrical conductivity (EC), nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), total carbon (C), total nitrogen (N), and C:N ratio were 18%, 81%, 132%, 153%, 96%, 78%, 71%, 36%, 45%, and 49%, respectively. Only one of the 24 brands met all published standards for chemical properties of premium media. Thirteen of the brands did not meet standards for NO3-N; 12 did not meet standards for pH; and six did not meet standards for EC. There was more variation in physical and chemical properties among brands than within a brand of media. Label information describing media composition was not consistent with certain physical and chemical properties. No recommendations can be made which would allow consumers to select media that meets published standards. These results indicate better awareness of and/or adherence to standards is needed by the retail media industry to improve product quality and consistency.

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M.N. Nzaramba, Douglas C. Scheuring and J. Creighton Miller Jr.

Antioxidants are important to human health, as they are responsible for reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, hence motivating researchers to examine crop plants for available antioxidant compounds. There is also increasing interest in the use of antioxidants from plants instead of synthetic products. In order to evaluate variability of antioxidant activity (AOA) in cowpea, 697 cowpea accessions from the U.S. Cowpea Core Collection obtained from the Regional Plant Introduction Station, Griffin, Ga., were analyzed for AOA expressed as μg trolox equivalents/gdw. Two grams of dry seed from each accession were ground, extracted in methanol and analyzed for AOA using the free radical, 2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), method. A large variation in AOA within the core collection, ranging from 1859 μg·g–1 dw (PI 180355, pigmented seed coat) to 42.6 μg·g–1 dw (PI 583100, cream seed coat), was observed. A least significant difference of 131.5 (p =0.05) was obtained. Higher AOA was manifested by accessions with pigmented seed coats. Accessions that were speckled, striped or had a pigmented eye were moderate in AOA, while the cream types were generally low. Variability in AOA observed among cowpea accessions suggests that breeding for high AOA can be successfully conducted. Accessions with high AOA could also be used to extract antioxidants for industrial purposes. Some accessions were a mixture of various colors and patterns, making it difficult to classify them into a particular category. Therefore, there is need to ensure purity of these accessions by ascertaining whether the mixtures are physical, i.e., combination of different varieties, or are composed of segregating material.

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Sandra E. Vega, Jiwan P. Palta and John B. Bamberg

Two major components of frost resistance are freezing tolerance in the nonacclimated state (growing in normal condition) and capacity to cold acclimate (increase in freezing tolerance upon exposure to chilling temperatures). In addition to these two major components, numerous factors contribute to frost survival. Although the rate of cold acclimation and deacclimation have been recognized as important factors contributing to frost survival, very little information about them is available. Our objective was to determine if there is variability in the rate of cold acclimation and deacclimation among tuber-bearing wild potato species: S. acaule Bitter, S. commersonii Dunal, S. megistacrolobum Bitter, S. multidissectum Hawkes, S. polytrichon Rydb., S. sanctae-rosae Hawkes, and S. megistacrolobum subsp. toralapanum (Cárdenas & Hawkes) Giannattasio&Spooner. Relative freezing tolerance of these species was measured after 0, 3, 6, 9 and 12 days of cold acclimation and after 12 and 24 hours deacclimation. Our results showed there were differences in the rates of cold acclimation and deacclimation among these species. With respect to the rate of acclimation we found these species can be divided into four groups: (i) early; (ii) late acclimators; (iii) progressive acclimators, and (iv) nonacclimators. Likewise, a wide range of cold deacclimation behavior was found. Some species showed as low a loss of 20% of their freezing tolerance, others showed as much as >60% loss after 12 hours of deacclimation. Significant deacclimation was observed in all cold acclimating species after 1 day. These results demonstrate that the rates of cold acclimation and deacclimation were not necessarily related to the cold acclimation capacity of a species. Rapid acclimation in response to low temperatures preceding a frost episode and slow deacclimation in response to unseasonably warm daytime temperatures could be advantageous for plants to survive frost events. Thus, in addition to nonacclimated freezing tolerance and acclimation capacity, it would be very desirable to be able to select for rapid acclimation and slow deacclimation abilities. Results demonstrate that variability for these two traits exists in Solanum L. (potato) species.

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S. Pereira-Lorenzo, J. Fernández-López and J. Moreno-González

Different chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) cultivars are at present grown in the region of Galicia, northwestern Spain, but no distinguishing traits among cultivars have been defined so far. The objectives of this research were to 1) describe the intra and intercultivar variability of chestnut cultivars; 2) define primary morphological traits to be useful for a simple morphological classification system of the cultivars; and 3) study the association between some environmental variables and the morphological traits. Seventeen morphological traits in a sample of 373 trees belonging to 82 local cultivars of chestnut were studied by methods of numerical taxonomy, principal component and cluster analysis. These traits were selected from 135 previously studied as having possible discriminating taxonomic value. Significant variability among cultivars and among trees within cultivars was found for most of the traits. The trees were grouped according to the degree of dissimilarity on the basis of the Mahalanobis generalized distance. Most of the clones collected under a specific cultivar name were included within the same cluster group enabling us to classify 53 of the cultivars studied. A hierarchical classification system that identifies eight cultivar groups is proposed based on four discriminating levels: nut size, fruit shape, male flower type and length of burr spines. Most of the correlations between the environmental variables and the morphological traits were no significant or had a low value. The lack of correlation between the environmental variables and nut size indicates that this important trait is under strong genetic control, it is not influenced by environmental conditions and it is consistent throughout the area sampled.

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Gary W. Stutte

A digital video camera (Panasonic Industrial Co., Secaucus, NJ) with a 1.7 cm charged coupled device detector (574 (h) × 499 (v) pixel elements) was modified with a custom made FRF-700 band pass filter to visualize canopy reflectance in the near-infrared (NIR) from 700 to 1100 nm. Images of canopy reflectance under a range of environmental stresses were obtained from peach and apple trees under greenhouse and field conditions. Individual video frames were digitized with Image Capture and Analysis System (Agri Imaging Systems, Inc., Fayetteville, AR). Image contrast was increased with digital equalization and filtering before classification into one of five stress levels. There was a high correlation (r2 > 0.8) between leaf stress and canopy reflectance in both apple and peach at distances < 5 meters. Spatial variability in stress-induced NIR reflectance could be detected and classified at vertical distances from 150 to 500 M. Analysis of vertical imagery revealed sections of the orchard which were most susceptible to environmental stress.

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P.R. Fisher, J.H. Lieth and R.D. Heins

The objective was to predict the distribution (mean and variance) of flower opening for an Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum Thunb.) population based on the variability in an earlier phenological stage and the expected average temperature from that state until flowering. The thermal time from the visible bud stage until anthesis was calculated using published data. `Nellie White' grade 8/9 Easter lilies were grown in five research and commercial greenhouse locations during 1995, 1996, and 1997 under a variety of temperature and bulb-cooling regimes. Distributions of visible bud and anthesis were normally distributed for a population growing in a greenhouse with spatially homogenous temperatures. The variance at anthesis was positively correlated with variance at visible bud. The mean and variance at visible bud could therefore be used to predict the distribution of the occurrence of anthesis in the crop. The relationship between bud elongation, harvest, and temperature was also incorporated into the model. After visible bud, flower bud length measurements from a random sample of plants could be used to predict the harvest distribution. A computer decision-support system was developed to package the model for grower use.

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Michael S. Stanghellini and Jonathan R. Schultheis

In 1999 and 2000, a total of 27 diploid watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] cultivars and advanced breeding lines (hereafter referred to as cultigens) were evaluated for staminate flower and pollen grain production to assess their potential to serve as pollenizers (pollen source plants) in triploid watermelon production systems. Male reproductive output (staminate flower and pollen production) was quantified during the peak flowering and fruit setting phase of the cultigens under field conditions. The number of staminate flowers produced per plant per day, number of pollen grains produced per flower, and total number of pollen grains produced per plant per day (staminate flowers per plant × pollen grains produced per flower) differed greatly among cultigens (for all tests, P < 0.01). Staminate flower production by cultigens differed by year (P < 0.0029) and days within years (P = 0.0225), but pollen production between years by cultigens was stable (P = 0.4841). Total male reproductive output ranged from 134,206 pollen grains per plant per day for `Jamboree' to 321,905 pollen grains per plant per day for `Summer Flavor 500'. These studies demonstrate the genotypic variability in watermelon male reproductive output potential, and may assist growers in choosing a good diploid pollenizer for triploid watermelon production.

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Graham H. Barry, William S. Castle, Frederick S. Davies and Ramon C. Littell

Sources of variation in juice quality of `Valencia'sweet orange [Citrus sinensis(L.) Osb.] were quantified and their relative contributions to variability in juice quality were determined, from which sample sizes were estimated. Commercial orchards of `Valencia' sweet orange trees on Carrizo citrange [C. sinensis × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] rootstock were selected at four geographic locations representing the major citrus-producing regions in Florida. Within- and between-tree variation in soluble solids concentration (SSC) and titratable acidity (TA) were estimated in two experiments over two or three seasons, respectively. Variance components for all treatment effects were estimated to partition total variation into all possible component sources of variation. Seasonal variation in SSC and TA was relatively small, but larger for TA than SSC. Variation in SSC among blocks within a location was intermediate to low, and was less than variation among locations. In contrast, tree-to-tree variation in SSC and TA was large, in spite of sampling from trees of similar vigor and crop load, and variation in SSC and TA among fruit was relatively large. Based on results of this study, samples consisting of 35 fruit are required to detect differences (P ≤ 0.05) of 0.3% SSC and 0.06% TA, whereas 20-fruit samples can be used to detect differences of 0.4% SSC and 0.08% TA. Seven replications are required to detect differences of 0.5% SSC and 0.1% TA, with small gains in precision when tree numbers exceed 10.

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Scott D. Haley, Phillip N. Miklas, Lucia Afanador and James D. Kelly

The objective of this study was to evaluate the degree of RAPD marker variability between and within commercially productive market classes representative of the Andean and Middle American gene pools of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Six sets of near-isogenic lines were screened with oligonucleotide primers in the polymerase chain reaction-based RAPD assay. Simultaneous analyses with at least three sets of lines enabled us to score RAPD markers between the two major gene pools, races within the same gene pool, and different genotypes of the same race (within race). A “three-tiered” pattern of polymorphism was observed: between gene pools> between races> within races. The overall level of polymorphism between the Andean and Middle American gene pools was 83.4%. The overall level of polymorphism between races within the same gene pool was similar for Andean races (60.4%) and Middle American races (61.7%). The level of polymorphism between related commercial navy bean lines was 39.2% and between related commercial snap bean lines was 53.6 %. The inherent simplicity and efficiency of RAPD analyses, coupled with the number of polymorphisms detectable between related commercial genotypes, should facilitate the construction of RAPD-based genetic linkage maps in the context of populations representative of most bean breeding programs.