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Noémi Makovics-Zsohár, Magdolna Tóth, Dezső Surányi, Szilvia Kovács, Attila Hegedűs, and Júlia Halász

European plum ( Prunus domestica L.) is an economically important temperate fruit species and was one of the first crops that attracted human interest ( Faust and Surányi, 1999 ). Its fruits are very popular because it can be used for several

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Sima Panahirad, Rahim Naghshiband-Hassani, Babak Ghanbarzadeh, Fariborz Zaare-Nahandi, and Nasser Mahna

Plums ( Prunus domestica L.) are a good source of antioxidants, anthocyanin, phenolic compounds, nutritional elements, and some vitamins ( Cevallos-Casals et al., 2006 ) that may benefit human health ( Gil et al., 2002 ; Wargovich, 2000 ), but

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Jean-Michel Hily, Michel Ravelonandro, Vern Damsteegt, Carole Bassett, Cesar Petri, Zongrang Liu, and Ralph Scorza

chain reaction (PCR) analysis, using primers specific to the PPV-CP gene, of a subset of seedlings surviving under kan selection (17 plants) indicated a selection efficiency of 94%. Prunus domestica transformation using seeds of ‘Stanley’ followed

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Ralph Scorza, Michel Ravelonandro, Ann Callahan, Ioan Zagrai, Jaroslav Polak, Tadeuz Malinowski, Mariano Cambra, Laurene Levy, Vern Damsteegt, Boris Krška, John Cordts, Dennis Gonsalves, and Chris Dardick

Prunus persica (GF305 peach seedlings), Prunus domestica (European plum seedlings), Prunus myrobalan , and GF 8-1 ( Prunus cerasifera × P. munsoniana ). An overview of the development of ‘HoneySweet’ plum and molecular characterization can be found

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Carolyn J. DeBuse, Douglas V. Shaw, and Theodore M. DeJong

Controlled pollinations were made using 20 elite selections from the University of California, Davis, Prunus domestica (european plum) breeding program as parents. These parents were used to generate 11 self-pollinated progenies with an inbreeding coefficient (F) of 0.5, 10 full-sibling progenies (F = 0.25), and 11 progenies from among nonrelated parents (F = 0). Seven additional progenies were chosen as a random-mating control set within the parental group; progenies in the control set had accumulated a range of current inbreeding coefficients (average F = 0.23) over two to five generations with intervening cycles of selection. Survival percentages were 85, 82, and 74 for the full-sib progeny, control set progeny, and selfed progeny, respectively, relative to nonrelated progeny. Two months after germination the percent decrease in the growth trait means for the selfed progeny compared to the nonrelated progeny ranged from 14% to 30% whereas growth trait means for full-sib progeny decreased from 1% to 9% compared to nonrelated progeny. The percent decrease for growth trait means of the selfed progeny after completing one season of growth in the field (10 months) was similar to that observed after 2 months, ranging from 14% to 28% compared to nonrelated progeny, whereas the decrease in full-sib progeny trait means was somewhat greater, ranging from 6% to 20%. Regression analysis of all growth traits on current-generation rates of inbreeding indicated a significant negative linear relationship (P = 0.0011 to 0.0232). No significant relationships were found between accumulated Fs and growth trait means of the control set progenies and the nonrelated progenies after 2 months in the greenhouse or one season growing in the field, suggesting that selection between breeding cycles decreased inbreeding depression.

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S.M. Southwick, W. Olson, and J. Yeager

Soil applied potassium (K) may not alleviate K deficiency in fine textured California soils when high numbers of prunes per tree are produced leading to leaf necrosis and limb death. Because K demand is increased by fruit, K nitrate (KN) sprays appear to be a corrective option for growers in this situation. Our objectives were to determine best seasonal KN spray liming strategies to minimize K deficiency, quantify K uptake into leaves after spray and to evaluate spray effects on productivity. Results indicated that regardless of spray timing leaf K was increased by approximately 0.3% and three weeks later decreased 0.2%. Average leaf K in sprayed trees was 0.7% higher than untreated trees at harvest. Fruit fresh to dry weight ratios were lower (better) from summer sprayed trees than spring. Summer KN sprayed trees had yield efficiencies equal to those having soil applied K. Fruit size was similar regardless of K application method. Foliar KN sprays may be a viable K augmentation to soil application in heavy crop years on fine textured soils.

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Giorgio Bargioni, Giorgio Baroni, Pietro Tonutti, Andrea Pitacco, and Angelo Ramina

Effects of scion inclination on root growth and distribution were studied on INRA GF 677 (Prunus persica × Prunus amygdalus) and apple/M.9 trees. At planting, central leaders were positioned vertically (0°) or inclined 45° or 60° to the north and south. Three years after planting, root total dry weight of inclined trees was lower than that of the control (0°, vertical central leader). Five years after planting, the isotropic distribution of the normal root systems was distorted by inclination in both species. Roots were more numerous and more elongated in the direction of inclination. Statistical analysis of root density data, using a polar coordinate system, confirmed that the trunk inclination reduced root development and redirected root distribution. The major effect was induced on GF 677 by 60° inclinations. Tree orientation did not seem to influence root distribution.

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Rémy E. Milad and Kenneth A. Shackel

Irrigation of previously water-stressed French prune trees is known to induce fruit end cracking. The relationships between end cracking, water relations, and mechanical properties of the skin of French prune were studied as a function of irrigation regimes under field conditions. Water stress resulted in the accumulation of solutes in the fruit of nonirrigated trees. A gradient in osmotic potential (ΨS) existed along the vertical axis of fruit from all treatments; ΨS was always lower at the stylar than stem end. Irrigation of previously water-stressed trees (irrigated-dry treatment) resulted in ΨS gradients exceeding those of all other treatments. Moreover, estimated turgor (ΨP) at the stylar end of the fruit increased 2-fold within 24 hours after irrigation. These changes were accompanied by the onset of fruit end cracking, and neither the well-watered controls nor the continuously droughted fruit exhibited such changes. During the 24 hours following irrigation, the overall ΨS of irrigated-dry treatment fruit was diluted by the same amount as the calculated increase in fruit volume. However, during the same period, ΨS at the stem end of the fruit showed more dilution than expected, and ΨS at the stylar end of the fruit concentrated, indicating a redistribution of solutes. There were no differences in skin mechanical properties along the fruit vertical axis and, hence, this could not have accounted for the observed changes in ΨS and ΨP. Thus, when previously stressed French prune trees were irrigated, the overall recovery in water potential (Ψ) and the subsequent movement of solutes to the stylar end of the fruit resulted in apparently excessive turgors in this region and hence the observed pattern of end cracking.

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Jean-Michel Hily, Ralph Scorza*, and Michel Ravelonandro

We have shown that high-level resistance to plum pox virus (PPV) in transgenic plum clone C5 is based on post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), otherwise termed RNA silencing (Scorza et al. Transgenic Res. 10:201-209, 2001). In order to more fully characterize RNA silencing in woody perennial crops, we investigated the production of short interfering RNA (siRNA) in transgenic plum clones C3 and C5, both of which harbor the capsid protein (CP) gene of PPV. We used as a control, plum PT-23, a clone only transformed with the two marker genes, NPTII and GUS. We show in the current report that C5 constitutively produces two classes of siRNA, the short (21-22 nucleotides) and long (≈27 nucleotides) species in the absence of PPV inoculation. Transgenic susceptible clone C3 and the control clone PT-23, when healthy, produce no siRNA. Upon infection, these clones produce only the short siRNA (21-22 nt). This siRNA production suggests that plum trees naturally respond to virus infection by initiating PTGS or PTGS-like mechanisms. This study also suggests that high-level virus resistance in woody perennials may require the production of both the short and long size classes of siRNA, as are produced by the resistant C5 plum clone.

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Rémy E Milad and Kenneth A Shackel

End cracking of French prune fruits occurs when previously water stressed trees are irrigated during early July. Fruit phloem, xylem and transpiration flows (P, X and T, respectively) were measured diurnally during 72 h periods in mid June, early July and mid July (before, during and after the crack-susceptible period). Midway through each 72 h period, the previously stressed trees were irrigated. In mid June, X was larger than P, whereas P was larger than X during early July. In mid July, P and X were similar. In early July, the period preceding irrigation was characterized by an ourflow of phloem sap during the day and phloem inflow during the night. After irrigation, larger phloem inflows were observed and no phloem outflow occurred. Fruit transpiration rates were highly correlated with VPD. They exhibited a gradual decrease during the season, reaching minimum values during early July, before increasing again. The sum of P and X was virtually identical for the three periods i.e. stronger P's compensated for weaker X's and vice versa. Our results suggest that properties intrinsic to the fruit play the primary role in modulating water and photosynthate movements between the tree and the fruit. The possible role of these properties on fruit growth and cracking will be examined.