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Concept: Horticulture


DNA barcoding relies on short and standardized gene regions to identify species. The agricultural and horticultural applications of barcoding such as for marketplace regulation and copyright protection remain poorly explored. This study examines the effectiveness of the standard plant barcode markers (matK and rbcL) for the identification of plant species in private and public nurseries in northern Egypt. These two markers were sequenced from 225 specimens of 161 species and 62 plant families of horticultural importance. The sequence recovery was similar for rbcL (96.4%) and matK (84%), but the number of specimens assigned correctly to the respective genera and species was lower for rbcL (75% and 29%) than matK (85% and 40%). The combination of rbcL and matK brought the number of correct generic and species assignments to 83.4% and 40%, respectively. Individually, the efficiency of both markers varied among different plant families; for example, all palm specimens (Arecaceae) were correctly assigned to species while only one individual of Asteraceae was correctly assigned to species. Further, barcodes reliably assigned ornamental horticultural and medicinal plants correctly to genus while they showed a lower or no success in assigning these plants to species and cultivars. For future, we recommend the combination of a complementary barcode (e.g. ITS or trnH-psbA) with rbcL + matK to increase the performance of taxa identification. By aiding species identification of horticultural crops and ornamental palms, the analysis of the barcode regions will have large impact on horticultural industry.

Concepts: Biology, Organism, Species, Botany, Tree, DNA barcoding, Barcode, Horticulture


The number of alien plants escaping from cultivation into native ecosystems is increasing steadily. We provide an overview of the historical, contemporary and potential future roles of ornamental horticulture in plant invasions. We show that currently at least 75% and 93% of the global naturalised alien flora is grown in domestic and botanical gardens, respectively. Species grown in gardens also have a larger naturalised range than those that are not. After the Middle Ages, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, a global trade network in plants emerged. Since then, cultivated alien species also started to appear in the wild more frequently than non-cultivated aliens globally, particularly during the 19th century. Horticulture still plays a prominent role in current plant introduction, and the monetary value of live-plant imports in different parts of the world is steadily increasing. Historically, botanical gardens - an important component of horticulture - played a major role in displaying, cultivating and distributing new plant discoveries. While the role of botanical gardens in the horticultural supply chain has declined, they are still a significant link, with one-third of institutions involved in retail-plant sales and horticultural research. However, botanical gardens have also become more dependent on commercial nurseries as plant sources, particularly in North America. Plants selected for ornamental purposes are not a random selection of the global flora, and some of the plant characteristics promoted through horticulture, such as fast growth, also promote invasion. Efforts to breed non-invasive plant cultivars are still rare. Socio-economical, technological, and environmental changes will lead to novel patterns of plant introductions and invasion opportunities for the species that are already cultivated. We describe the role that horticulture could play in mediating these changes. We identify current research challenges, and call for more research efforts on the past and current role of horticulture in plant invasions. This is required to develop science-based regulatory frameworks to prevent further plant invasions.

Concepts: Agriculture, Species, Plant, Middle Ages, Botany, Globalization, 19th century, Horticulture


Self-incompatibility (SI) is a major barrier that obstructs the breeding process in most horticultural plants including tea plants (Camellia sinensis). The aim of this study was to elucidate the molecular mechanism of SI in tea plants through a high throughput transcriptome analysis.

Concepts: Tea, Camellia sinensis, Plant sexuality, Camellia, Horticulture


Clonal propagation plays a critical integral role in the growth and success of a global multi-billion dollar horticulture industry through a constant supply of healthy stock plants. The supply chain depends on continuously improving the micropropagation process, thus, understanding the physiology of in vitro plants remains a core component. We evaluated the influence of exogenously applied cytokinins (CKs, N6-benzyladenine = BA, isopentenyladenine = iP, meta-topolin = mT, 6-(3-hydroxybenzylamino)-9-(tetrahydropyran-2-yl)purine = mTTHP) in Murashige and Skoog (MS)-supplemented media on organogenic response and accumulation of endogenous CK and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) metabolites. The highest shoot proliferation (30 shoots/explant) was obtained with 20 μM mT treatment. However, the best quality regenerants were produced in 10 μM mT treatment. Rooting of Amelanchier alnifolia in vitro plantlets was observed at the lowest CK concentrations, with the highest root proliferation (3 roots/explant) in 1 μM mTTHP regenerants. Similar to the organogenic response, high levels of endogenous bioactive CK metabolites (free bases, ribosides, and nucleotides) were detected in mT and mTTHP-derived regenerants. The level of O-glucosides was also comparatively high in these cultures. All CK-treated plants had high levels of endogenous free IAA compared to the control. This may suggest an influence of CKs on biosynthesis of IAA.

Concepts: Metabolism, In vitro, Plant propagation, Berries, Amelanchier alnifolia, Horticulture, Amelanchier


For millennia, people have cut and joined different plant tissues together through a process known as grafting. By creating a chimeric organism, desirable properties from two plants combine to enhance disease resistance, abiotic stress tolerance, vigour or facilitate the asexual propagation of plants. In addition, grafting has been extremely informative in science for studying and identifying the long-distance movement of molecules. Despite its increasing use in horticulture and science, how plants undertake the process of grafting remains elusive. Here, we discuss specifically the role of eight major plant hormones during the wound healing and vascular formation process, two phenomena involved in grafting. We furthermore present the roles of these hormones during graft formation and highlight knowledge gaps and future areas of interest for the field of grafting biology.

Concepts: Organism, Wound healing, Grafting, Plant reproduction, Cutting, Plant propagation, Horticulture and gardening, Horticulture


Eco-efficiency is currently receiving ever increasing interest as an indicator of sustainability, as it links environmental and economic performances in productive activities. In agriculture these indicators and their determinants prove relevant due to the close ties in this activity between the use of often limited natural resources and the provision of basic goods for society. The present paper analyzes eco-efficiency at micro-level, focusing on small-scale family farms as the principal decision-making units (DMUs) of horticulture in southeast Spain, which represents over 30% of fresh vegetables produced in the country. To this end, Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) framework is applied, computing several combinations of environmental pressures (water usage, phytosanitary contamination, waste management, etc.) and economic value added. In a second stage we analyze the influence of family farms' socio-economic and environmental features on eco-efficiency indicators, as endogenous variables, by using truncated regression and bootstrapping techniques. The results show major inefficiency in aspects such as waste management, among others, while there is relatively minor inefficiency in water usage and nitrogen balance. On the other hand, features such as product specialization, adoption of quality certifications, and belonging to a cooperative all have a positive influence on eco-efficiency. These results are deemed to be of interest to agri-food systems structured on small-scale producers, and they may prove useful to policy-makers as regards managing public environmental programs in agriculture.

Concepts: Natural environment, Value added, Value, Sustainability, Recycling, Indicator, Productive and unproductive labour, Horticulture


In this paper, we address the emergence of horticultural practice, agents, spaces and institutions in the two urban settings of Lisbon and Porto, in Portugal, during the second half of the nineteenth century. We do so by following the networking activities of two players: the self-made horticulturist and entrepreneur José Marques Loureiro, who created, in Porto, a commercial horticultural establishment and founded the Journal of Practical Horticulture; and the agronomist Francisco Simões Margiochi, head of the gardens and green grounds department of the municipality, who created the first course on gardening and horticulture, and founded the Royal Horticultural Society, both in Lisbon. Their joint activities were aimed at establishing horticulture as an applied science and to cater simultaneously to an extended audience of citizens. They enable us to enrich the narratives on the emergence and development of horticulture in Europe by calling attention to the participation in circulatory extended networks of actors who are often absent from these accounts. Additionally, they allow a comparative assessment of the outcome of their actions at the national level, and to understand their results in terms consonant with recent historiographical trends on the co-construction of centres and peripheries.

Concepts: Portugal, Agronomy, Garden design, Horticulture


Pesticides and their potential adverse health effects are of great concern and there is a dearth of knowledge regarding occupational exposure to pesticides among amenity horticulturalists.

Concepts: Horticulture


Harnessing nature to promote mental health is increasingly seen as a sustainable solution to healthcare across the industrialised world. The benefits of these approaches to well-being include reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression and improved social functioning. Many studies assume that contact with nature is the main therapeutic component of these interventions yet ‘green care’ programmes typically include activities not based on ‘nature’ that may contribute to positive outcomes. This study explored the views of service users participating in a Therapeutic Horticultural programme on what factors promoted their engagement in the project, to identify variables other than ‘nature’ that may be responsible for successful engagement in these programmes. A secondary aim was to assess the significance ‘nature’ plays including, for example whether a prior interest in horticultural-related activities, such as gardening, is significant. Two focus groups were held with mental health service users (n = 15) attending a gardening project in south-east England. Findings revealed that the social element of the project was the key facilitator to engagement; the flexible structure of the gardening project was also significant and allowed service users to feel empowered. ‘Nature’ evoked a sense of calm and provided participants with a non-threatening space that was engaging.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Healthcare, Health insurance, Health, The Key, Program, Horticulture


The banana-spotting bug, Amblypelta lutescens lutescens Distant (Hemiptera: Coreidae), is native to Australia and a major polyphagous pest of many tropical and subtropical horticultural crops in the east and north of the country. Different plant structures (flowers, vegetative flush, and different sized fruit) of avocado, lime, and papaya crops and green bean pods (a known suitable host) were evaluated for their suitability as hosts for A. l. lutescens Neonate to imago survivorship, the time taken to complete neonate to imago development, preovipositional period, and fecundity were assessed for each crop. Of all the different phenological stages of the plants investigated, A. l. lutescens could complete development to imago on vegetative flush of papaya and lime, papaya flowers, and green bean pods but on no other structures tested. There was higher survivorship to the second instar when neonates fed on green bean pods or flowers or vegetative flush of avocado, lime, or papaya crops than when neonates fed on small, medium, or large fruit of these crops. Insects that developed to the imago on green bean pods were significantly heavier than insects that developed on papaya flowers or papaya vegetative flush. The mean preoviposition period was shorter, and adult females more fecund, if they completed immature development and then fed as adults on papaya vegetative flush or green beans rather than papaya flowers. The data indicate that avocado is not a suitable host for A. l. lutescens, suggesting that adult populations that cause significant pest damage to the fruit of this crop originate elsewhere.

Concepts: Agriculture, Insect, Fruit, Pollination, Seed, Common bean, Bean, Horticulture