Scholarly Works, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

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  • Implementing Digital Multispectral 3D Scanning Technology for Rapid Assessment of Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Weed Competitive Traits
    Singh, Gursewak; Slonecki, Tyler; Wadl, Philip; Flessner, Michael; Sosnoskie, Lynn; Hatterman-Valenti, Harlene; Gage, Karla; Cutulle, Matthew (MDPI, 2024-06-28)
    The economic significance of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) as a source of grain, fiber, and flower is rising steadily. However, due to the lack of registered herbicides effective in hemp cultivation, growers have limited weed management options. Plant height, biomass, and canopy architecture may affect crop–weed competition. Greenhouse experiments conducted at the joint Clemson University Coastal Research and Education Center and USDA-ARS research facility at Charleston, SC, USA used 27 hemp varieties, grown under controlled temperature and light conditions. Weekly plant scans using a digital multispectral phenotyping system, integrated with machine learning algorithms of the PlantEye F500 instrument, (Phenospex, Heerlen, Netherlands) captured high-resolution 3D models and spectral data of the plants. Manual and scanner-based measurements were validated and analyzed using statistical methods to assess plant growth and morphology. This study included validation tests showing a significant correlation (p < 0.001) between digital and manual measurements (R2 = 0.89 for biomass, R2 = 0.94 for height), indicating high precision. The use of 3D multispectral scanning significantly reduces the time-intensive nature of manual measurements, allowing for a more efficient assessment of morphological traits. These findings suggest that digital phenotyping can enhance integrated weed management strategies and improve hemp crop productivity by facilitating the selection of competitive hemp varieties.
  • Hemp Seed Yield Responses to Nitrogen Fertility Rates
    Podder, Swarup; Shafian, Sanaz; Thomason, Wade E.; Wilson, T. Bain; Fike, John H. (MDPI, 2024-04-11)
    Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) holds promise as a crop for more sustainable supply chains given its potential as a source of high-strength fibers, adsorbents, and nutrient-dense feedstuffs. Developing nutrient management guidelines for hemp will be an important part of optimizing the crop’s sustainability attributes. This study measured hemp seed yield in response to N fertilization rate (0, 60, 120, 180, and 240 kg N ha−1). Treatments were tested with four hemp cultivars (‘Joey’ and ‘Grandi’ in 2020, 2021, and 2022 and ‘NWG 2463’ and ‘NWG 4113’ in 2023) in Virginia. Nitrogen input influenced (p ≤ 0.0177) seed yield in all four experimental years, although the pattern of response varied substantially. In 2020, following delayed seeding, hemp showed a weak quadratic (p = 0.0113) response to N inputs, with peak yield (1640 kg ha−1) occurring with 120 kg N ha−1. In 2021, hemp displayed a strong linear (p < 0.0001) response to N inputs, with the highest seed yield (2510 kg ha−1) at 240 kg N ha−1. In 2022, a season characterized by low precipitation and high weed pressure, a weak, linear (p = 0.0111) response to the N rate was observed. The greatest seed yield (380 kg ha−1) was again observed with 240 kg N ha−1. In 2023, weed pressure remained an issue, but the response to N was strong and linear (p < 0.0001), with the greatest seed yield (831 kg ha−1) again measured at 240 kg N ha−1. These findings indicate hemp can be quite responsive to N inputs but that the magnitude of response is sensitive to other factors such as available soil moisture, weed pressure, and growing period.
  • Silicon Improves Heat and Drought Stress Tolerance Associated with Antioxidant Enzyme Activity and Root Viability in Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.)
    Zhang, Xunzhong; Goatley, Mike; Wang, Kehua; Goddard, Ben; Harvey, Rose; Brown, Isabel; Kosiarski, Kelly (MDPI, 2024-05-30)
    Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) is an important cool-season turfgrass species widely used for golf course putting greens; however, it experiences summer stress and quality decline in the U.S. transition zone and other regions with similar climates. Silicon (Si) may improve the abiotic stress of creeping bentgrass, but the mechanism of its impact on plant drought and heat tolerance is not well understood, and a few studies have reported on the effects of Si on creeping bentgrass drought and heat tolerance. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of Ortho-silicic acid (Ortho-Si) on antioxidant metabolism and root growth characteristics and viability in creeping bentgrass under drought and heat-stress conditions. The three treatments, including control, Ortho-Si at 0.16 mL m−2 and 0.32 mL m−2, were applied biweekly to creeping bentgrass. Foliar application of the Ortho-Si exhibited beneficial effects on turf quality, physiological fitness, and root growth in creeping bentgrass. The Ortho-Si application at 0.16 mL m−2 and 0.32 mL m−2 improved turf quality ratings by 9.5% and 11.1%, respectively, photochemical efficiency (PE) by 6.9% and 8.5%, respectively, chlorophyll content by 27.1% and 29.9%, and carotenoids content by 25.5% and 27.2%, respectively, when compared to the control at the end of the trial. The Ortho-Si treatments enhanced antioxidant enzyme activity; the highest amount, in particular, increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity by 32.8%, catalase (CAT) by 12.8%, and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity by 37.4%, as compared to the control. The Ortho-Si application reduced leaf hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) concentration relative to the control. In addition, exogenous Ortho-Si improved leaf Si concentration. The Ortho-Si application at 0.32 mL m−2 increased root biomass by 52.7% and viability by 89.3% relative to the control. Overall, Ortho-Si at 0.32 mL m−2 had greater beneficial effects than the low rate (0.16 mL m−2). Exogenous Si may improve drought and heat tolerance by protecting photosynthetic function, enhancing the activities of leaf antioxidant enzymes, and stimulating root growth, viability, and Si uptake. The results of this study suggest that foliar application of Ortho-Si at 0.32 mL m−2 may be considered to be an effective approach to improve turf quality and physiological fitness of creeping bentgrass during the summer months in the U.S. transition zone and other regions with similar climates.
  • Phenotypic Dissection of Drought Tolerance in Virginia and Carolinas within a Recombinant Inbred Line Population Involving a Spanish and a Virginia-Type Peanut Lines
    Kumar, Naveen; Haak, David C.; Dunne, Jeffrey C.; Balota, Maria (MDPI, 2024-06-08)
    Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is a rainfed crop grown in both tropical and subtropical agro-climatic regions of the world where drought causes around 20% yield losses per year. In the United States, annual losses caused by drought are around $50 million. The objective of this research was to (1) identify genetic variation for the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), canopy temperature depression (CTD), relative chlorophyll content by SPAD reading (SCMR), CO2 assimilation rate, and wilting among recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from two diverse parents N08086olJCT and ICGV 86015, to (2) determine if the physiological traits can be used for expediting selection for drought tolerance, and (3) experimental validation to identify lines with improved yield under water-limited conditions. Initially, 337 lines were phenotyped under rainfed production and a selected subset of 52 RILs were tested under rainout shelters, where drought was imposed for eight weeks during the midseason (July and August). We found that under induced drought, pod yield was negatively correlated with wilting and CTD, i.e., cooler canopy and high yield correlated positively with the NDVI and SPAD. These traits could be used to select genotypes with high yields under drought stress. RILs #73, #56, #60, and #31 performed better in terms of yield under both irrigated and drought conditions compared to check varieties Bailey, a popular high-yielding commercial cultivar, and GP-NC WS 17, a drought-tolerant germplasm.
  • A Review of Bioactive Compound Effects from Primary Legume Protein Sources in Human and Animal Health
    Shea, Zachary; Ogando do Granja, Matheus; Fletcher, Elizabeth B.; Zheng, Yaojie; Bewick, Patrick; Wang, Zhibo; Singer, William M.; Zhang, Bo (MDPI, 2024-05-01)
    The global demand for sustainable and nutritious food sources has catalyzed interest in legumes, known for their rich repertoire of health-promoting compounds. This review delves into the diverse array of bioactive peptides, protein subunits, isoflavones, antinutritional factors, and saponins found in the primary legume protein sources—soybeans, peas, chickpeas, and mung beans. The current state of research on these compounds is critically evaluated, with an emphasis on the potential health benefits, ranging from antioxidant and anticancer properties to the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The extensively studied soybean is highlighted and the relatively unexplored potential of other legumes is also included, pointing to a significant, underutilized resource for developing health-enhancing foods. The review advocates for future interdisciplinary research to further unravel the mechanisms of action of these bioactive compounds and to explore their synergistic effects. The ultimate goal is to leverage the full spectrum of benefits offered by legumes, not only to advance human health but also to contribute to the sustainability of food systems. By providing a comprehensive overview of the nutraceutical potential of legumes, this manuscript sets a foundation for future investigations aimed at optimizing the use of legumes in the global pursuit of health and nutritional security.
  • Evaluating Different Methods to Establish Biodiverse Swards of Native Grasses and Wildflowers for Pasturelands
    Kubesch, Jonathan O. C.; Greiner, Scott P.; Pent, Gabriel J.; Reid, J. Leighton; Tracy, Benjamin F. (MDPI, 2024-05-14)
    Many cool-season pastures in the southeastern U.S. are dominated by a competitive cool-season grass, tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus), and lack substantial plant diversity. Planting native warm-season grasses (NWSGs) and wildflowers (WFs) into these pastures could provide summer forage for cattle and more floral resources for pollinators. This paper summarizes field experiments designed to evaluate different spatiotemporal planting arrangements of NWSGs and WFs to improve their establishment success. The study was conducted from April 2021 to October 2023 in central Virginia (USA). Planting treatments included NWSG and WF mixtures planted: (1) together in the same space, (2) spatially separated in space (i.e., side by side), or (3) temporally separated where NWSGs and WFs were planted in difference sequences. Results showed few differences in forage mass, floral production, and botanical composition as well as stand density in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, NWSG abundance was greater where grasses were planted first or mixed with WFs. Similarly, the WF component was favored when they were planted before NWSGs. Overall, planting NWSG and WF mixes separately, either spatially or temporally, favors successful establishment and could offer more flexibility for using selective herbicides to suppress the heavy weed pressure that often accompanies these plantings.
  • Humic Acid Promotes the Growth of Switchgrass under Salt Stress by Improving Photosynthetic Function
    Zhang, Jiaxing; Meng, Qiuxia; Yang, Zhiping; Zhang, Qiang; Yan, Min; Hou, Xiaochan; Zhang, Xunzhong (MDPI, 2024-05-19)
    As a potential crop in saline-alkali land, the growth of switchgrass could also be threatened by salt stress. Promoting the growth of switchgrass under salt stress by humic acid has great significance in the utilization of saline-alkali land. In this study, a pot experiment was arranged to investigate the responses of photosynthetic and physicochemical characteristics of switchgrass to HA under salt stress. Results showed that humic acid increased the photosynthetic function of switchgrass and enhanced plant height by 41.1% and dry weight by 26.9% under salt stress. Correlation analysis showed that the membrane aquaporin gene PvPIP1, malondialdehyde, ascorbate peroxidase, abscisic acid, polyamine, and jasmonic acid were important factors affecting the photosynthetic function of switchgrass in this study. Meanwhile, HA reduced the content of malondialdehyde, indicating the alleviation of the membrane damage caused by salt stress. On the other hand, HA upregulated the relative expression of the PvPIP1 gene and activated ascorbate peroxidase, abscisic acid, polyamine, and jasmonic acid in switchgrass to resist salt stress. These improved the membrane stability and promoted the photosynthetic activity of switchgrass to enhance the plant’s tolerance against salt stress and growth. Results from this study are helpful to the efficient growing of switchgrass and the sustainable development of saline-alkali land.
  • MicroRNA164 Affects Plant Responses to UV Radiation in Perennial Ryegrass
    Xu, Chang; Huang, Xin; Ma, Ning; Liu, Yanrong; Xu, Aijiao; Zhang, Xunzhong; Li, Dayong; Li, Yue; Zhang, Wanjun; Wang, Kehua (MDPI, 2024-04-30)
    Increasing the ultraviolet radiation (UV) level, particularly UV-B due to damage to the stratospheric ozone layer by human activities, has huge negative effects on plant and animal metabolism. As a widely grown cool-season forage grass and turfgrass in the world, perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is UV-B-sensitive. To study the effects of miR164, a highly conserved microRNA in plants, on perennial ryegrass under UV stress, both OsmiR164a overexpression (OE164) and target mimicry (MIM164) transgenic perennial ryegrass plants were generated using agrobacterium-mediated transformation, and UV-B treatment (~600 μw cm−2) of 7 days was imposed. Morphological and physiological analysis showed that the miR164 gene affected perennial ryegrass UV tolerance negatively, demonstrated by the more scorching leaves, higher leaf electrolyte leakage, and lower relative water content in OE164 than the WT and MIM164 plants after UV stress. The increased UV sensitivity could be partially due to the reduction in antioxidative capacity and the accumulation of anthocyanins. This study indicated the potential of targeting miR164 and/or its targeted genes for the genetic manipulation of UV responses in forage grasses/turfgrasses; further research to reveal the molecular mechanism underlying how miR164 affects plant UV responses is needed.
  • A silent spring, or a new cacophony? Invasive plants as maestros of modern soundscapes
    Barney, Jacob N.; O'Malley, Grace; Ripa, Gabrielle N.; Drake, Joseph; Franusich, David; Mims, Meryl C. (Wiley, 2024-04-01)
    Sound plays a key role in ecosystem function and is a defining part of how humans experience nature. In the seminal book Silent Spring (Carson 1962), Rachel Carson warned of the ecological and environmental harm of pesticide usage by envisioning a future without birdsong. Soundscapes, or the acoustic patterns of a landscape through space and time, encompass both biological and physical processes (Pijanowski et al. 2011). Yet, they are often an underappreciated element of the natural world and the ways in which it is perceived. Scientists are only beginning to quantify changes to soundscapes, largely in response to anthropogenic sounds, but soundscape alteration is likely linked to many dimensions of global change. For example, invasive non-native species (hereafter, invasive species) are near-ubiquitous members of ecosystems globally and threaten both natural and managed ecosystems at great expense. Their impacts to soundscapes may be an important, yet largely unknown, threat to ecosystems and the human and economic systems they support.
  • Effect of organic biostimulants on cannabis productivity and soil microbial activity under outdoor conditions
    Da Cunha Leme Filho, Jose F.; Chim, Bee K.; Bermand, Cameron; Diatta, Andre A.; Thomason, Wade E. (2024-03-26)
    In 2019 and 2020, we investigated the individual and combined effects of two biofertilizers (manure tea and bioinoculant) and one humic acid (HA) product on cannabis biochemical and physiological parameters and soil CO2 evolution under outdoor conditions. Our hypothesis was that HA would increase the microbial activity in the biofertilizers and synergy of both compounds would promote better plant performance and stimulate soil microbial activity. In 2020, the individual and combined application of biofertilizers and HA increased cannabis height, chlorophyll content, photosynthetic efficiency, aboveground biomass, and bucked biomass by 105, 52, 43, 122, and 117%, respectively. Impacts were greater under suboptimal growing conditions caused by planting delay experienced in 2020. In 2019, planting date occurred in-between the most favorable period and chlorophyll content and photosynthetic efficiency were the only parameters influenced by the application of biostimulants. The discrepancies between the two growing seasons reinforce the evidence of other studies that biostimulants efficacy is maximized under stress conditions. This study could not conclusively confirm that the combined use of biofertilizer + HA is a superior practice since affected plant parameters did not differ from application of the compounds singly. Similarly, only one biofertilizer + HA treatment increased soil microbial activity. More research is needed to define optimum rates and combinations of biofertilizer and stimulants for cannabis.
  • Incidence of Per-And Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Private Drinking Water Supplies in Southwest Virginia, USA
    Hohweiler, Kathleen; Krometis, Leigh-Anne H.; Ling, Erin; Xia, Kang (2024)
    Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made contaminants of increasing human health concern due to their resistance to degradation, widespread environmental occurrence, bioaccumulation in organ tissue, and potential negative health impacts. Private drinking water supplies may be uniquely vulnerable to PFAS contamination, as these systems are not subject to federal regulations and often include limited treatment prior to use. The goal of this study was to determine the incidence of PFAS contamination in private drinking water supplies in two counties in Southwest Virginia, USA (Floyd and Roanoke), and to examine the potential for reliance on citizen-science based strategies for sample collection in subsequent broader efforts. Samples for inorganic ions, bacteria, and PFAS analysis were collected on separate occasions by participants and experts at the home drinking water point of use (POU) for comparison. Experts also collected outside tap samples for PFAS analysis. At least one PFAS was detectable in 88% of POU samples collected (n=60), with an average total PFAS concentration of 23.5±30.8 ppt. PFOA and PFOS, two PFAS compounds which presently have EPA health advisories, were detectable in 13% and 22% of POU samples, respectively. Of the 31 compounds targeted, 15 were detectable in at least one sample. On average, each POU sample contained approximately 3.3 PFAS compounds, and one sample contained as many as 8 compounds, indicating that exposure to a mixture of PFAS in drinking water may be occurring. Although there were significant differences in total PFAS concentrations between expert and participant collected samples (Wilcoxon, alpha = 0.05), collector bias was inconsistent, and may be due to the time of day of sampling (i.e. morning, afternoon) or specific attributes of a given home. Future studies reliant on participant collection of samples appear possible given proper training, coordination, and instruction.
  • Pasture Biomass Estimation Using Ultra-High-Resolution RGB UAVs Images and Deep Learning
    Vahidi, Milad; Shafian, Sanaz; Thomas, Summer; Maguire, Rory (MDPI, 2023-12-13)
    The continuous assessment of grassland biomass during the growth season plays a vital role in making informed, location-specific management choices. The implementation of precision agriculture techniques can facilitate and enhance these decision-making processes. Nonetheless, precision agriculture depends on the availability of prompt and precise data pertaining to plant characteristics, necessitating both high spatial and temporal resolutions. Utilizing structural and spectral attributes extracted from low-cost sensors on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) presents a promising non-invasive method to evaluate plant traits, including above-ground biomass and plant height. Therefore, the main objective was to develop an artificial neural network capable of estimating pasture biomass by using UAV RGB images and the canopy height models (CHM) during the growing season over three common types of paddocks: Rest, bale grazing, and sacrifice. Subsequently, this study first explored the variation of structural and color-related features derived from statistics of CHM and RGB image values under different levels of plant growth. Then, an ANN model was trained for accurate biomass volume estimation based on a rigorous assessment employing statistical criteria and ground observations. The model demonstrated a high level of precision, yielding a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.94 and a root mean square error (RMSE) of 62 (g/m2). The evaluation underscores the critical role of ultra-high-resolution photogrammetric CHMs and red, green, and blue (RGB) values in capturing meaningful variations and enhancing the model’s accuracy across diverse paddock types, including bale grazing, rest, and sacrifice paddocks. Furthermore, the model’s sensitivity to areas with minimal or virtually absent biomass during the plant growth period is visually demonstrated in the generated maps. Notably, it effectively discerned low-biomass regions in bale grazing paddocks and areas with reduced biomass impact in sacrifice paddocks compared to other types. These findings highlight the model’s versatility in estimating biomass across a range of scenarios, making it well suited for deployment across various paddock types and environmental conditions.
  • Quantitative texture analysis comparison of three legumes
    Miller, Rebekah; Duncan, Susan; Yin, Yun; Zhang, Bo; Lahne, Jacob (Frontiers, 2023-06-19)
    A validated texture-analysis method to evaluate product quality in frozen or cooked legumes is needed to support high-quality vegetable production but is not currently established in the literature. Peas, lima beans, and edamame were investigated in this study due to similar market use as well as growth in plant-based protein consumption in the United States. These three legumes were evaluated after three different processing treatments (blanch/freeze/thaw (BFT); BFT+microwave heat (BFT+M); BF+stove-top cooking (BF+C)), using both compression and puncture analysis following an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) texture analysis method and moisture testing following an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard method. Texture analysis results showed differences between legumes and processing methods. Compression analysis identified more differences between treatments within product type than puncture for both edamame and lima beans indicating compression might be more sensitive to texture changes in these products. Implementation of a standard texture method for legume vegetables for growers and producers would provide a consistent quality check to support efficient production of high-quality legumes. Due to the sensitivity obtained from the compression texture method in this work, compression should be considered for future research into a robust method to evaluate edamame and lima bean textures throughout the growing and production processes.
  • Suggestions for Promotion and Tenure Documents
    Galbraith, John; Stewart, Ryan D. (2022-05-10)
  • Nematode Tradings Cards Set Six
    Eisenback, Jonathan (Society of Nematologists Education Committee, 2023-07-17)
    Nematode Trading Cards Deck Six is a collection of 54 full color cards from six categories including 1)Behavior, 2)Control, 3)Habitats, 4)Morphology, 5) Nematodes, and 6)Nematologists. This deck was given to all of the participants in the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Society of Nematologists in Columbus, Ohio in 2023. They serve as the source material for the game played by teams of graduate students at the annual meeting call "The Cobb Bowl - Nematodes in Jeopardy".
  • A suberized exodermis is required for tomato drought tolerance
    Cantó-Pastor, A.; Kajala, K.; Shaar-Moshe, L.; Manzano, C.; Timilsena, P.; De Bellis, D.; Gray, S.; Holbein, J.; Yang, H.; Mohammad, S.; Nirmal, N.; Suresh, K.; Ursache, R.; Mason, G. A.; Gouran, M.; West, D. A.; Borowsky, A. T.; Shackel, K. A.; Sinha, N.; Bailey-Serres, J.; Geldner, N.; Li, Song; Franke, R. B.; Brady, S. M. (Springer, 2024-01-02)
    Plant roots integrate environmental signals with development using exquisite spatiotemporal control. This is apparent in the deposition of suberin, an apoplastic diffusion barrier, which regulates flow of water, solutes and gases, and is environmentally plastic. Suberin is considered a hallmark of endodermal differentiation but is absent in the tomato endodermis. Instead, suberin is present in the exodermis, a cell type that is absent in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Here we demonstrate that the suberin regulatory network has the same parts driving suberin production in the tomato exodermis and the Arabidopsis endodermis. Despite this co-option of network components, the network has undergone rewiring to drive distinct spatial expression and with distinct contributions of specific genes. Functional genetic analyses of the tomato MYB92 transcription factor and ASFT enzyme demonstrate the importance of exodermal suberin for a plant water-deficit response and that the exodermal barrier serves an equivalent function to that of the endodermis and can act in its place.
  • Building Partnerships to Address Social and Technological Challenges to Enhance Farm Profitability and Improve Water Quality Through Better Grassland Management
    Stafford, Carl; Clark, Robert; Ritchie, Liesel A.; Pent, Gabriel; Fike, John; Benner, John; Swanson, Carrie; Baker, Scott; Mize, Timothy; Temu, Vitalis; Payne, Kathryn; Gill, Duane A.; Mullins, D.; McGuire, R.; Teutsch, Chris; Thomason, Wade; Grev, Amanda; Blevins, Phil; Clarke, C.; Poore, Matt; Booher, Matt; Stanley, Tom; Halich, Greg; Bovay, John; Love, Kenner; Byington, amy A.; Baldwin, Elizabeth; Haugen, Inga (2023-05-15)
    With 2.1 million acres of pastureland and 1.25 million acres of hay land in Virginia, the rural Virginia landscape is predominately grassland. These lands form the base of the $3.96 billion-dollar livestock and dairy industry in Virginia. Managing these livestock in a profitable manner for farmers and beneficial to the environment is important. A cultural tradition with roots in colonial times has been to run animals in large fields year-round throughout Virginia. Livestock often graze from spring until fall (about 220 days), and farmers feed hay the remainder of the year. Spikes in the cost of fuel, fertilizer, and equipment are making traditional grazing/haying systems less profitable. The Virginia Cooperative Extension Farm Enterprise budgets show that that the cost of hay accounts for over 50% of the cost of sustaining livestock annually. University of Kentucky shows that most cow-calf producers maximize their profitability by shifting from grazing 220 days to grazing 275 to 300 days. Extension agents working with livestock producers found that they could improve their profitability by at least $75 per cow by extending their grazing season. The same phenomenon applies to other types of grazing livestock. If ten percent of the livestock producers in the state adopted better grazing management to extend their grazing season by 60 days, profitability is expected to for Virginia grazing livestock producers by over $5 million per year. Practices such as rotational grazing and stream exclusion are directly tied to National and State goals to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia’s Phase III WIP (Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan) seeks the exclusion of livestock from all perennial streams and achieving good rotational grazing practices on 347,000 acres of pasture. A number of agencies and private sector groups have been providing cost share and technical guidance to incentivize livestock stream exclusion and the installation of pasture management infrastructure. Installation is only part of the challenge. Farmers also need to be taught how to how to manage the system in a profitable manner and have been slow to adopt good pasture management practices. Preliminary data show that 87% of Virginia’s cow-calf producers manage their grasslands using traditional methods. Only six percent have extended their grazing season beyond 265 days.
  • Diversity and ice nucleation activity of Pseudomonas syringae in drone water samples from eight lakes in Austria
    Hanlon, Regina; Jimenez-Sanchez, Celia; Benson, James; Aho, Ken; Morris, Cindy; Seifried, Teresa; Bolah, Philipp; Grothe, Hinrich; Schmale, David G. III (PeerJ, 2023-11-28)
    Bacteria from the Pseudomonas syringae complex (comprised of at least 15 recognized species and more than 60 different pathovars of P. syringae sensu stricto) have been cultured from clouds, rain, snow, streams, rivers, and lakes. Some strains of P. syringae express an ice nucleation protein (hereafter referred to as ice+) that catalyzes the heterogeneous freezing of water. Though P. syringae has been sampled intensively from freshwater sources in the U.S. and France, little is known about the genetic diversity and ice nucleation activity of P. syringae in other parts of the world. We investigated the haplotype diversity and ice nucleation activity at −8 ◦C (ice+) of strains of P. syringae from water samples collected with drones in eight freshwater lakes in Austria. A phylogenetic analysis of citrate synthase (cts) sequences from 271 strains of bacteria isolated from a semi-selective medium for Pseudomonas revealed that 69% (188/271) belonged to the P. syringae complex and represented 32 haplotypes in phylogroups 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14 and 15. Strains within the P. syringae complex were identified in all eight lakes, and seven lakes contained ice+ strains. Partial 16S rDNA sequences were analyzed from a total of 492 pure cultures of bacteria isolated from non-selective medium. Nearly half (43.5%; 214/492) were associated with the genus Pseudomonas. Five of the lakes (ALT, GRU, GOS, GOL, and WOR) were all distinguished by high levels of Pseudomanas (p ≤ 0.001). HIN, the highest elevation lake, had the highest percentage of ice+ strains. Our work highlights the potential for uncovering new haplotypes of P. syringae in aquatic habitats, and the use of robotic technologies to sample and characterize microbial life in remote settings.
  • Genomic delineation and description of species and within-species lineages in the genus Pantoea
    Crosby, Katherine C.; Rojas, Mariah; Sharma, Parul; Johnson, Marcela A.; Mazloom, Reza; Kvitko, Brian H.; Smits, Theo HM M.; Venter, Stephanus N.; Coutinho, Teresa A.; Heath, Lenwood S.; Palmer, Marike; Vinatzer, Boris A. (Frontiers, 2023-11-09)
    As the name of the genus Pantoea (“of all sorts and sources”) suggests, this genus includes bacteria with a wide range of provenances, including plants, animals, soils, components of the water cycle, and humans. Some members of the genus are pathogenic to plants, and some are suspected to be opportunistic human pathogens; while others are used as microbial pesticides or show promise in biotechnological applications. During its taxonomic history, the genus and its species have seen many revisions. However, evolutionary and comparative genomics studies have started to provide a solid foundation for a more stable taxonomy. To move further toward this goal, we have built a 2,509-gene core genome tree of 437 public genome sequences representing the currently known diversity of the genus Pantoea. Clades were evaluated for being evolutionarily and ecologically significant by determining bootstrap support, gene content differences, and recent recombination events. These results were then integrated with genome metadata, published literature, descriptions of named species with standing in nomenclature, and circumscriptions of yet-unnamed species clusters, 15 of which we assigned names under the nascent SeqCode. Finally, genome-based circumscriptions and descriptions of each species and each significant genetic lineage within species were uploaded to the LINbase Web server so that newly sequenced genomes of isolates belonging to any of these groups could be precisely and accurately identified.
  • Photosynthetic Rate and Root Growth Responses to Ascophyllum nodosum Extract–based Biostimulant in Creeping Bentgrass under Heat and Drought Stress
    Zhang, Xunzhong; Taylor, Zachary; Goatley, Mike; Wang, Kehua; Brown, Isabel; Kosiarski, Kelly (American Society for Horticultural Science, 2023-08-01)
    Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) experiences quality decline during summer in the United States transition zone and warmer regions. Various bioproducts have been used to improve creeping bentgrass performance and to mitigate effects of summer stress in the United States transition zone. This 2-year study was carried out to examine if foliar application of seaweed extract (SWE; Ascophyllum nodosum)-based biostimulant UtilizeVR could enhance creeping bentgrass nitrate reductase (NaR) activity, and root viability under heat and drought stress conditions. The UtilizeVR was sprayed biweekly on creeping bentgrass foliage at 0, 29, 58, 87, and 116 mL.m22, with application volume of 815 L.ha22. Two weeks after first application, plants were exposed to heat (35/25◦C, day/night) and drought stress (40% to 50% evapotranspiration replacement) conditions for 42 days in an environment-controlled growth chamber. In general, the abiotic stress caused turf quality reduction. Foliar application of UtilizeVR at 58, 87, and 116 mL.m22 increased turf quality, leaf color ratings, leaf chlorophyll, carotenoid content, and net photosynthetic rate (Pn). UtilizeVR at 58, 87, and 116 mL.m22 increased NaR activity by 26.5%, 16.3%, and 16.3%, respectively, when compared with the control. UtilizeVR at 58, 87, and 116 mL.m22 increased root biomass, root length, surface area (SA), and root volume when compared with the control. UtilizeVR at 58 and 87 mL.m22 improved root viability by 16.3% and 30.9%, respectively, when compared with the control. Our data indicate that the SWE-based biostimulant UtilizeVR improves nitrogen (N) metabolism and root viability. UtilizeVR treatment at 58 mL.m22 biweekly can be considered an effective approach for improving creeping bentgrass performance during summer stress.