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Jonathan Frantz, Dharmalingam Pitchay, David Tay, Jennifer Ehrenberger, John Gray, Scott Heckathorn and Scott Leisner

Zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) and scented geranium (Pelargonium sp.) together are among the top-selling floriculture plants in the United States today, with several hundred cultivars and species available each year. With such diversity in appearances, growth habits, and developmental traits, we hypothesize a correspondingly wide range of nutritional uptake and partitioning characteristics. Mature leaves from 55 cultivars or breeding lines of zonal geranium and 60 species of Pelargonium sp. were sampled from paired plants twice throughout the year from the Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center. Their tissue was analyzed for essential macro- and micronutrients using ICP-OES. Generally, macronutrients varied by a factor of 3–5, whereas micronutrients varied by up to 100-fold. The micronutrient boron was a notable exception with variation across the samples of only about a factor of 5. With this information, attempts will be made to correlate tissue nutrient concentrations with genetic source (cultivars and breeding lines) and environmental conditions from the origin of the different Pelargonium species from South Africa. This work illustrates the challenges in associating specific sufficiency or deficiency values for nutrient concentrations in tissue of plants based on only a few cultivars, species, or locations.

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Chi Won Lee, Chun Ho Pak and Jong Myung Choi

Micronutrient toxicity symptoms of seed geranium (Pelargonium × hortorum Bailey) `Ringo Scarlet' were experimentally induced by using 9 different concentrations of B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Zn in the fertilizer solution. Plants of 3-4 true leaf stage grown in peat-lite mix were constantly fed for 5 weeks with nutrient solutions containing 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 mM of each micronutrient. The control solution contained 20 uM B, 0.5 uM Cu, 10 uM Fe, 10 uM Mn, 0.5 uM Mo and 4 uM Zn. Visible foliar toxicity symptoms developed when the nutrient solution contained 2, 0.5, 5, 1, 0.25, and 0.5 mM, respectively, of B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn. Reduction in dry matter yield was evident when 1 mM B, 2 mM Cu, 3 mM Fe, 2 mM Mn, 0.5 mM Mo, and 1 mM Zn were used in the fertilizer solution. Leaf chlorophyll contents decreased as Cu and Mn levels increased. Elevated levels of Fe increased tissue chlorophyll contents.

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Chiwon W. Lee, Jong-Myung Choi and Chun-Ho Pak

Seed geranium (Pelargonium × hortorum) micronutrient toxicity symptoms were induced by applying elevated levels of B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn in fertilizer solution. Beginning at the 3-4 true leaf stage, seedling plants established in 11-cm (0.67-liter) pots containing peat-lite growing medium were fertilized at each irrigation for 5 weeks with solutions containing 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 mm plus the standard concentration of each micronutrient. The standard solution contained 20 μm B, 0.5 μm Cu, 10 μm Fe, 10 μm Mn, 0.5 μm Mo, and 4 μm Zn. All treatment solutions contained a fixed level of macronutrients. Visible foliar toxicity symptoms were produced when the nutrient solution contained 0.5 mm B, 0.5 mm Cu, 5 mm Fe, 1 mm Mn, 0.25 mm Mo, or 0.5 mm Zn. Reduction in dry matter yield was evident when 1 mm B, 2 mm Cu, 3 mm Fe, 2 mm Mn, 0.5 mm Mo, or 1 mm Zn was used in the fertilizer solution. Leaf chlorophyll contents decreased as Cu and Mn levels in the concentration range tested increased. Elevated levels of Fe increased tissue chlorophyll contents. The relationship between the nutrient solution and tissue concentrations of each of the six micronutrients was determined.

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Mohammad Baqir and Richard L. Harkess

On 2 Feb. 1996, rooted cuttings of Pelargonium × hortorum L. H. Bailey cvs. Tango and Blues were planted in 750-cm3 (14 cm in diameter) pots containing peatmoss mixed with shredded tire rubber (2–6.0 mm particle size) at 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, or 80%. Plants were irrigated by hand, drip, or ebb-and-fl ood, and were arranged in a split-plot experimental design. A wetting agent (Aqua Gro 2000 L, Aquatrols Corporation, Cherry Hill, N.J.) was mixed at the rate of 6 ml per 3750 ml of water and 120 ml of solution was applied to each plant. Greenhouse studies indicated that geraniums could be grown successfully in media containing up to 20% shredded tire rubber by volume when irrigated by hand. Plants grown in media containing more than 20% rubber were observed to be slow-growing and chlorotic. Tissue analysis of the plants indicated significantly increased levels of zinc in plants grown in media containing high percentages of rubber. Geraniums grown in media containing 80% rubber and irrigated using ebb-and-fl ood benches had the significantly highest levels of foliar zinc. Media porosity, percent air space, and bulk density increased, while water holding capacity decreased with increasing amounts of shredded tire rubber added to the media.

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Michael R. Evans and Andrew A. Waber

Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom' (poinsettia) and Pelargonium ×hortorum `Pink Elite' (geranium) were grown in 75:25:0, 50:50:0, 27:75:0, 75:0:25 50:0:50, 25:0:75 (v/v sphagnum peat: 0.25-grade rubber: 0.10-grade rubber) substrates or in a 50 sphagnum peat: 30 perlite: 20 loam (v/v) standard greenhouse substrate. Geranium root and shoot fresh weights, height, and number of axillary shoots were reduced when grown in rubber-containing substrates compared to plants grown in the standard control. As the proportion of either grade of rubber increased, root and shoot fresh weights, height, and number of axillary shoots decreased. Flowering in geranium was delayed and the number of inflorescences reduced as the proportion of the 0.10-grade rubber increased. Plants grown in the 0.25-grade rubber failed to flower by the termination of the experiment. Poinsettia plants grown in rubber-containing substrates had reduced shoot fresh weight, height, number of bracts, and bract area compared to plants grown in the standard control. As the proportion of either grade of rubber increased, height, shoot fresh weight, number of bracts, and bract area decreased. Number of axillary branches was reduced in substrates containing 50% and 75% of the 0.10-grade rubber. Days to anthesis was unaffected by substrate.

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Michael R. Evans and Richard L. Harkess

Geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey) `Freckles' and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzch) `Freedom' were grown in six peat and shredded-rubber substrates formulated to contain 75:25:0, 50:50:0, 25:75:0, 75:0:25, 50:0:50, 25:0:75 sphagnum peat: fine-grade rubber: coarse-grade rubber (by volume). Additionally, plants were grown in a 50 peat: 30 perlite: 20 loam (by volume) control substrate. Shredded rubber-containing substrates had higher bulk densities, lower total pore space, and higher total solids than the control substrate. Fine rubber-containing substrates had lower air-filled pore space (AFP) and lower water-holding capacities (WHC) than the control substrate. Substrates containing 25% coarse rubber had lower AFP and WHC than the control, but substrates containing 50% and 75% coarse shredded rubber had higher AFP and lower WHC than the control. Shredded rubber-containing substrates had significantly higher levels of Zn than the control substrate. Plants grown in rubber-containing substrates had tissue Zn levels significantly higher than the control and at levels reported to be phytotoxic in other species. Geraniums grown in rubber-containing substrates had lower root and shoot fresh mass, were shorter, and had fewer axillary branches than those grown in the control substrate. Poinsettia plants grown in rubber-containing substrates were shorter, had lower shoot fresh mass, fewer bracts, and lower bract area as compared to plants grown in the control substrate.

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Mana Libran and David J. Williams

Leca clay pebbles were characterized and tested as a possible growing-medium for use in floriculture production systems that recycle irrigation water. Leca clay pebbles are light porous particles made by heating clay. X-ray diffraction tests indicate that high manufacturing temperatures (1100C) result in final particles composed primarily of quartz. Water-holding capacity was determined by pressure plate apparatus at eight pressures. Leca particles that were 4 to 8 mm retained more water than particles sized 12 to 18 mm. The bulk density of the particles were 0.43 and 0.37 g/cc for the 48-mm and the 12- to 18-mm particles, respectively. The pH of the leca particles was 7.77. The cation exchange capacity of the leca particles was relatively low compared to a standard soilless growing medium of 1 pine bark: 1 peat: 1 perlite (by volume). Leca particles have a CEC of o.82 me/100 g Ca and 6.36 me/100 g K, where the CEC of the previously mentioned soilless.medium was 24.21 me/100g Ca and 30.08 me/100 g K. Leca clay pebbles were tested as growing medium for the production of geraniums (Pelargonium hortorum) stock plants.

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R.M. Madakadze, J.E. Krochko and T. Senaratna

Storage proteins in zygotic and somatic embryos of `Scarlet Orbit Improved', zonal geranium (Pelargonium hortorum L.H. Bail.) were identified and characterized using gel electrophoresis. The major seed storage proteins in zygotic embryos were an 11S globulin and two low molecular weight (LMW1-2) proteins. The 11S globulin consisted of four distinct subunits (53-74 ku), with each subunit being composed of an acidic polypeptide (A1-A4; 28-44 ku) linked via disulphide bonds to a basic polypeptide (B1-B4; 20-25 ku) and was named pelargin. The LMW (15.5 and 12,5 ku) albumins were not linked with disulphide bonds. Mature somatic embryos contained 80% of the proteins in zygotic embryos. Although protein profiles were more distinct in mature somatic embryos compared to nonmature, none of the zygotic embryo storage protein was present in the somatic embryos, indicating lack of complete maturity of somatic embryos. This study identified zygotic embryo proteins and demonstrated that maturation of somatic embryos improves protein content and types of proteins.

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Richard Grazzini, Donald Walters, Jody Harmon, David J. Hesk, Diana Cox-Foster, June Medford, Richard Craig and Ralph O. Mumma

Diploid zonal geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum) are able to resist attack by small arthropod pests such as the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae Koch) when exudate produced by tall glandular trichomes contains a high percentage of ω5-unsaturated anacardic acids. Trichomes of susceptible plants exude primarily saturated anacardic acids. Inbred mite-resistant and -susceptible geraniums were reciprocally crossed and the F1, F2, and backcross generations were examined for anacardic acid composition and trichome density. Selected F2 plants were bioassayed for resistance to two-spotted spider mites. High concentrations of ω5-unsaturated anacardic acids in resistant plants are conditioned by a single dominant allele. We propose that inheritance of tall glandular trichome density can be controlled by a small number of loci (possibly as few as one) exhibiting codominance. F2, with low densities of tall glandular trichomes and producing ω5-unsaturated anacardic acids, displayed effective resistance to two-spotted spider mites as measured by mite mortality and fecundity. A genetic model for the biosynthesis of anacardic acids is proposed.

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Richard Grazzini, David Hesk, Ellen Yerger, Diana Cox-Foster, June Medford, Richard Craig and Ralph O. Mumma

Composition of anacardic acids (phenolic acids known to be associated with small pest resistance in Pelargonium ×hortorum) was examined in 13 diploid and 25 tetraploid cultivars by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The presence of an unusual desaturation (omega (ω)-5) in the alkyl tail of anacardic acids present only in glandular trichome exudate of pest-resistant diploid inbred lines had previously been associated with a sticky-trap pest-resistance phenomenon. In this study, we examine Pelargonium cultivars for variability in anacardic acid composition to assess the distribution of ω5 desaturation among commercial cultivars, to determine possible interactions between ω5 desaturation and other plant desaturation mechanisms, and to examine the possible impact of ploidy on ω5 desaturation. An unsaturation index (UI) is derived to compare exudates differing widely in composition yet which may provide a similarly effective sticky-trap pest-resistance mechanism based on exudate viscosity. ω-5 Anacardic acids were observed in the glandular trichome exudate of all 38 commercial cultivars examined. No diploid cultivar produced ω5- and ω9- anacardic acids, although the simultaneous production of ω5 and ω9- anacardic acids was observed in three tetraploid cultivars. Total ω5- anacardic acids comprised from 42.4% (tetraploid cultivar Perlenkette-syn. Snowhite, Weiss) to 86.8% (tetraploid cultivar Amanda). Commercial P. ×domesticum cultivars had no ω5 anacardic acids. UIs ranged from 60.9 (tetraploid cultivar Dixieland) to 103.4 (diploid cultivar Pinto White). In contrast, anacardic acids collected from a pest-susceptible inbred line contained no ω5- anacardic acids and had a UI of 38.7. No significant differences among ploidy levels were observed for UIs or for most specific anacardic acid components, with the exception of 24:1 ω5- anacardic acid, in which the mean diploid value (32.1%) was significantly higher than that of the mean tetraploid value (27.6%). We conclude that ω5- anacardic acid production occurs in all Pelargonium cultivars observed and that these cultivars are predicted to exhibit resistance to small arthropod pests. Significant genetic variability in specific anacardic acid composition appears to exist among Pelargonium cultivars, suggesting that breeding for pest resistance can be readily monitored by HPLC of anacardic acids.