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Title: Screening citrus rootstocks and related selections in soil and solution culture for tolerance to low-iron stress

item CASTLE, WILLIAM - University Of Florida
item NUNNALEE, JAMES - University Of Florida
item Manthey, John

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/24/2009
Publication Date: 6/1/2009
Citation: Castle, W.S., Nunnalee, J., Manthey, J.A. 2009. Screening citrus rootstocks and related selections in soil and solution culture for tolerance to low-iron stress. HortScience. 44(3):638-645.

Interpretive Summary: Iron deficiency can severely impact citrus cultivation in high-carbonate soils. A greenhouse method had been previously developed by one the authors (JAM) to detect tolerance to iron deficiency, and this new study applies this method to screen many different citrus rootstocks for iron deficiency tolerance. The effects of iron deficiency on plant growth characteristics and leaf color for these many rootstocks were monitored and correlated with the iron deficiency tolerances measured for these rootstocks. A wide range of responses and tolerances were observed and some possible taxonomic correlations were suggested by trends observed in this study.

Technical Abstract: A broad range of plant selections across the orange subfamily, Aurantioideae, were screened in solution and soil culture for their tolerance to low iron (Fe) stress tolerance. Young seedlings grown in soil were transferred to tubs of +Fe nutrient solution which was later replaced after a brief period with a –Fe solution. Over several trials, ca. 20 white root tips were harvested periodically from the plants in each tub and assayed for their ability to reduce Fe3+. The procedure was miniaturized to determine if a fewer number of root tips could be assayed in order to screen individual plants and to estimate the required sample size. For solution screening, seven root tips were estimated to be adequate for representing a single plant. Seedlings of a few selections were also grown in small containers of soil amended with 0% to 5.9% CaCO3. The results in solution and soil culture were consistent with each other and with previous assessments of the various selections. Based on a summary of the solution and soil responses, the citrus selections were grouped in descending order of Fe3+ reduction rates as Volkamer lemon/Rangpur/sour orange selections/Citrus macrophylla > mandarins and mandarin hybrids > citranges > citrumelos > trifoliate orange. Of the citrus relatives tested in solution culture only, those in the genera Glycosmis, Citropsis, Clausena, and Murraya had high Fe reduction rates with good seedling growth and new leaves developed a light yellow color or showed no loss of greenness. Other citrus relatives in the genera Severinia, Atalantia, and Fortunella and most somatic hybrids had low seedling vigor and produced too few root tips to be properly assessed. The results are useful because of the breadth of selections screened, the taxonomic relationships revealed, the identification of various citrus relatives as potential sources of low-Fe stress tolerance in breeding new rootstocks, and the apparent positive relationship between the Fe3+ reduction responses, soil screening responses and known selections with carbonate-induced Fe chlorosis responses.