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Eric L. Zeldin, Thomas P. Jury, Rodney A. Serres, and Brent H. McCown

The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) was genetically transformed with the bar gene, conferring tolerance to the phosphinothricin-based herbicide glufosinate. Plants of one `Pilgrim' transclone grown under greenhouse conditions were significantly injured by foliar treatments of 100 mg·L-1 glufosinate, although the injury was less severe when compared to untransformed plants. However, the same transclone grown outdoors in coldframes survived foliar sprays of 500 mg·L-1 glufosinate and higher, while untransformed plants were killed at 300 mg·L-1. Actively growing shoot tips were the most sensitive part of the plants and at higher dosages of glufosinate, shoot-tip injury was evident on the transclone. Injured transgenic plants quickly regrew new shoots. Shoots of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and creeping sedge (Carex chordorrhizia), two weeds common to cranberry production areas, were seriously injured or killed at 400 mg·L-1 glufosinate when grown in either the greenhouse or coldframe environment. Stable transmission and expression of herbicide tolerance was observed in both inbred and outcrossed progeny of the above cranberry transclone. Expected segregation ratios were observed in the outcrossed progeny and some outcrossed individuals demonstrated significantly enhanced tolerance over the original transclone, with no tip death at levels up to 8000 mg·L-1. Southern analysis of the original transclone and two progeny selections with enhanced tolerance showed an identical banding pattern, indicating that the difference in tolerance levels was not due to rearrangement of the transgene. The enhanced tolerance of these first generation progeny was retained when second generation selfed progeny were tested.

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Luping Qu, James Polashock, and Nicholi Vorsa

Putative transgenic cranberry plants have been achieved via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Leaf explants were transformed with a supervirulent Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain EHA 105, harboring the binary vector P35SGUSint and nptII selectable marker genes. Inoculation of precultured explants (≈10 days on regeneration medium) coupled with sonicasion improved transformation efficiency significantly. Adventitious shoots were directly regenerated from explants. Putative transformed shoots were identified by being kanamycin-resistant and GUS-positive. Stable GUS gene expression (turning blue) could be detected within 1 h of incubation at 37 °C. Confirmation of transformation by molecular analysis is in progress. Eight putative transgenic cranberry plants were obtained. All appeared morphologically normal. This appears to be the first success in achieving cranberry transformed plants by Agrobacterium-mediated method. Optimizing the transformation system is ongoing.

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Ricardo Cesped-Ruiz* and Bingru Huang

The American cranberry often undergoes drought stress during the summer. However, the physiological response of this species to drought is not well understood. This study was designed to determine the effects of drought on two commercial cranberry cultivars of high potential yield, `Ben Lear' and `Stevens', during a vegetative stage. The plants were subjected to drought for 15 days in a greenhouse. Soil water content, leaf water content, leaf photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance, transpiration, differential leaf-air temperature, photochemical efficiency (Fv'/Fm') and the actual PSII efficiency (deltaF/Fm') decreased in those plants subjected to drought. Drought reduced differential leaf-air temperature at day 6 of treatment and stomatal conductance and transpiration starting at day 9 and photosynthetic rate at day 13. Drought decreased leaf water content at day 14 and Fv'/Fm' and PSII efficiency at day 15. Our results indicated that cranberry plants in vegetative stage were sensitive to drought for both cultivars and stomatal conductance was the most sensitive parameter among those examined for both cultivars.

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Carolyn DeMoranville and Joan Davenport

The relationship between yield and applied N in cranberry has been investigated. Cultivar was important in determining optimum seasonal N rate. Sustained production for the hybrid `Stevens' required an annual seasonal total of N at up to 67 kg·ha–1, higher than was optimal for native selections `Early Black' and `Howes'. High N rates were associated with increased fruit rot and vine overgrowth. Optimum N rate varied within cultivar, likely due to variation in soil conditions, but soil N test results have not correlated well with subsequent yield in cranberry. Soil organic matter content can predict potential N release, but plant response must also be taken into account. To refine N rate recommendations, plant characteristics that might predict N requirements/status of cranberry were investigated. A standard of 0.9% to 1.1% N in August tissue has been established for cranberry. To find characteristics that could be used earlier, we surveyed 30 sites for percentage of N in tissue, length of new growth, SPAD chlorophyll meter ratings, fertilizer N use, and yield. Length of new growth could be used as an indicator of cranberry N status from June until bloom, being positively correlated with subsequent yield. The SPAD meter proved to be a viable alternative to in-season monitoring of tissue N during June and July. Readings below proposed standard values indicated the need for N fertilizer if vegetative growth was in the standard range. Thus, the easily determined factors of upright length and SPAD rating could be used to refine fertilizer rates during the active growing season, while tissue testing for percentage of N could be used as a “report card” on the fertilizer program at the end of the season.

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T.R. Roper, A.R. Krueger, C.J. DeMoranville, N. Vorsa, J. Hart, and A.P. Poole

Nitrogen fertilizer application is a universal practice among cranberry growers. Cranberries only use ammonium nitrogen sources. This study was undertaken to discover how quickly cranberries in the field would take up fertilizer-derived ammonium nitrogen. Ammonium sulfate labeled with 15N was applied in field locations in Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Samples of current season growth were collected daily for 7 days beginning 24 hours after fertilizer application. In all cases 15N was detectable in the plants from treated plots by 24 hours following application. Additional nitrogen was taken up for the next 3 to 5 days depending on the location. With the exception of Oregon, the maximum concentration of 15N was found by day 7. Oregon was the coolest of the sites in this research. To determine a temperature response curve for N uptake in cranberry, cranberry roots were exposed to various temperatures in aeroponics chambers while vines were at ambient greenhouse temperatures. The optimum temperature for N uptake by cranberry vines was 18 to 24 °C. This research suggests that ammonium fertilizers applied by growers and irrigated into the soil (solubilized) are taken up by the plant within 1 day following application. Soil and root temperature is involved in the rate of N uptake.

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Carolyn J. DeMoranville, Joan R. Davenport, Kim Patten, Teryl R. Roper, Bernadine C. Strik, Nicholi Vorsa, and Arthur P. Poole

Fruit mass development in `Crowley', `Pilgrim', and `Stevens' cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) was compared in five states for two seasons. Comparing all locations, `Stevens' and `Pilgrim' cranberries had similar growth curves with a faster growth rate than that of `Crowley'. Regional differences in fruit development were observed. Shorter growing seasons, especially in Wisconsin, were compensated for by more rapid growth rates. Conversely, low initial mass and slower growth rates were compensated for by the longer growing season in the Pacific Northwest. Solar radiation intensity accounted for little of the variability in fruit growth. Neither growing degree days nor numbers of days were good predictors of cranberry fruit fresh mass accumulation. Instead, numbers of moderate temperature days (between 16 and 30 °C) appeared to be key, accounting for greater than 80% of the variability in cranberry fresh biomass accumulation. The most rapid growth rates occurred when temperatures were in this range. High temperatures were limiting in New Jersey while low temperatures were limiting in Oregon and Washington. In one of two seasons, low temperatures were limiting in Wisconsin: accumulation of 0.5 g fresh mass took 11 d longer. Massachusetts had the fewest periods of temperature extremes in both seasons, resulting in the shortest number of days required to accumulate 0.5 g fresh mass.

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Teryl R. Roper and John S. Klueh

The source of photosynthate for developing cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) fruit can be partitioned spatially among new growth acropetal to fruit, 1-year-old leaves basipetal to fruit, and adjacent uprights along the same runner. Cranberry uprights were labeled with 14CO2 in an open system with constant activity during flowering or fruit development. When new growth acropetal to fruit was labeled, substantial activity was found in flowers or fruit. Little activity was found in basipetal tissues. When 1-year-old basipetal leaves were labeled, most of the activity remained in the labeled leaves, with some activity in flowers or fruit. Almost no labeled C moved into acropetal tissues. When new growth of adjacent nonfruiting uprights on the same runner were labeled, almost no activity moved into the fruiting upright. These data confirm that new growth acropetal to developing flowers and fruit is the primary source of photosynthate for fruit development. Furthermore, they show that during the short time studied in our experiment, almost no C moved from one upright to another.

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James H. Cane and Daniel Schiffhauer

Cranberry flowers (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) require bee visitation for pollination. Bees visit cranberry flowers for nectar and sometimes pollen, but honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) in particular often work alternative co-flowering species for nectar, presumably because cranberry offers inferior nectar rewards. In a common garden setting, replicated plots of the cultivar Stevens were found to secrete significantly more nectar sugar (25% to 35% more) per flower than either `Ben Lear' or `Early Black', two other common commercial cultivars. The nectar secretion rate of `Stevens' was unaffected by a 4-fold range of fertilizer application rates over the preceding 2 years. These results are compared to studies of other crops involving varietal differences and programs of selective breeding for nectar secretion.

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R.G. Novy, N. Vorsa, and K. Patten

Highly variable productivity among Vaccinium macrocarpon (Ait.) Pursh `McFarlin' bogs in Washington has been noted by growers. The fruiting habits of 12 Washington `McFarlin' bogs, ranging from 5.7-28.4 t/ha productivity were characterized. Uprights from each bog were characterized using RAPD markers, and then used in a greenhouse pollination experiment to determine if variation in fruiting and fertility phenotypes could be associated with RAPD profiles. Fifteen RAPD profiles were identified, and genetic heterogeneity was high among the 12 bogs. An association between RAPD profiles and reproduction characteristics was observed. The most frequent (30%) RAPD profile appeared to represent the `true' `McFarlin', since it was abundant in higher-yielding bogs and its profile was identical to `McFarlin' samples from other growing regions. A unique RAPD profile was also identified which exhibited high yield characteristics, but did not appear to be related to `McFarlin'. The Washington `McFarlin' bogs examined are composed of a diverse array of genotypes with variable fruiting phenotypes, indicating the variability in production has a genetic component.