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- January 1, 2008 -
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impact statement impact
- The applied information on screening floriculture species according to salt tolerance is contributing to management decisions in greenhouse operations. One trade journal article has been submitted, and one is in preparation regarding this topic. By investigating the genetics related to salt tolerance we hope to provide tools for future modification of agronomic and floriculture crops to be more salt tolerant.
impact statement issue
- Many floriculture species are sensitive to salt accumulation in the root zone. Salt accumulation occurs with excessive fertilizer use, reduced leaching (for example, sub-irrigation systems), and from high salts in tap water (from road salt or sea salt). Although symptoms caused by high levels of salt such as leaf tip burn, osmotic effects, and ultimately reduced plant growth, are well studied, there is little understanding and research on the genetic and biochemical underlying mechanisms of salt that affect floricultural crops. In addition, the lack of researched-based data for substrate salt guidelines, especially for newer floriculture plant material, is a barrier for industry members attempting to grow crops with poor quality (high salt) irrigation water. In the absence of salt guidelines, overwatering of substrates to leach salts is typically recommended. However, this is not an environmentally friendly method to overcome this problem because excess water and fertilizer is used. Across the U.S., water availability is declining; thus, more efficient water use will be required.
impact statement response
- Several greenhouse experiments have been conducted to determine salt management guidelines (i.e. threshold levels) for several of the most common bedding plants. Exogenous compounds have been tested for their ability to mitigate salt tolerance (potassium-silicate and kelp extract). Laboratory-based molecular experiments are under way to determine candidate genes for salt tolerance.
impact statement summary
- As water becomes a limiting resource worldwide, producers of floriculture crops are under increasing pressure to reduce water consumption or adapt to using poorer quality (saline) water sources. Many floriculture species are sensitive to salt accumulation in the root zone. My lab’s recent salinity efforts have been spear-headed by graduate student Gonzalo Villarino. He has screened 20 of the most popular bedding plant species for salt tolerance using a wide range of salt treatments to develop electrical conductivity management thresholds. Further, we are applying molecular techniques to study and enhance salt tolerance in floriculture crops. We have targeted the TPS1 gene. TPS1 encodes an enzyme as part of the trehalose pathway. Trehalose appears to act as an osmoprotectant, maintaining stable enzyme conformation under conditions of osmotic stress (due to drought or salt stress).
Other private funding
- Post-Schenkel Endowment, American Floral Endowment
- Mattson, Neil S. Researcher
- Both Basic Research and Applied Research
- Mattson, Neil S. Cornell Faculty Member