In alpine regions of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of China, perennial vetch (Vicia unijuga A. Br.) productivity is often low and variable, constrained by the cold and erratic precipitation environment. The aim of the current study was to identify the soil-environmental modifications needed in harsh alpine environmental conditions for improvement of perennial vetch growth, forage biomass production and seed yield. A 3-year field experiment was conducted in an alpine region of China to evaluate the effects of modified soil temperature and moisture conditions generated by three mulching treatments - plastic film mulching (FM), removal of plastic film mulching at the 30% flowering stage and barley straw mulching - on perennial vetch productivity. Higher mean soil temperature and soil water content were recorded in the FM treatment than in the control and other treatments. This enhanced perennial vetch growth, as indicated by higher photosynthetic rate, higher leaf area index and greater above-ground dry matter, and thus higher seed yield and water productivity. Examination by multiple linear regression showed the relative contribution of mean soil temperature to the variations in photosynthetic rate, above-ground dry matter and seed yield were greater than soil water content, whereas the reverse occurred in seeds/pod. In conclusion, the FM treatment provided adequate soil temperature and water resources to improve photosynthetic rate, above-ground dry matter, seed yield and water productivity, and thus increased the productivity potential for perennial vetch in the alpine region. The current research provides scientific support for large-scale perennial vetch cultivation and management in alpine regions.
Keratins are the main structural proteins of wool fibres, and it is thought that variation in the keratins may affect wool fibre characteristics. Polymerase chain reaction-single stranded conformational polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) analyses were used to investigate four regions of the ovine keratin gene KRT31 including a portion of the promoter, the exon 1, exon 3 and exon 7 regions. Initially, in a screening panel of 300 New Zealand Romney, Merino and White Dorper sheep obtained from 26 farms, three, two, two and two PCR-SSCP banding patterns were observed for these four regions, respectively. The promoter region, the exon 1 and exon 3 regions contained two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the exon 7 region contained one SNP. The effect of the variation found in the promoter region on wool traits was subsequently investigated in 485 Southdown x Merino-cross lambs from seven sire-lines. The three variants identified in the original 300 sheep (named A, B and C) were observed with frequencies of 56, 29 and 15%, respectively. The presence of A and B had no significant effect on wool traits, but the presence of C was found to be associated with an increase in greasy fleece weight (GFW), clean fleece weight (CFW) and mean staple length (MSL). There was an effect of genotype on CFW and MSL, with BC sheep producing wool of higher CFW and MSL than AA, AB, AC and BB sheep. These results suggest that ovine KRT31 might be a useful candidate gene for improving wool traits.
Use of antibiotics as feed additives has been reduced to avoid the hazard of drug residues, and consequently, the search for alternative natural additives has developed. Thus, the aim was to evaluate the influence of royal jelly (RJ) supplementation on milk composition, blood biochemical and antioxidant parameters of lactating ewes. Thirty-six Ossimi ewes were divided randomly into two groups (18 animals each). For a period of 4 weeks, the control group (CON) was fed a basal diet only, while the other group was fed the basal diet and supplemented with a single bolus of RJ (1000 mg/head). The RJ-supplemented ewes produced significantly higher milk protein, fat and total solids than the CON group. The RJ group had a significantly higher red blood cell count, haemoglobin content, haematocrit value and total leucocyte counts, but lower neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio when compared with the control treatment. The RJ group showed significantly higher concentrations of total antioxidant capacity, superoxide dismutase activity and glutathione in the serum compared with the control treatment. In conclusion, RJ supplements can improve the nutritive value of milk fat and the serum antioxidant activities in lactating ewes.
A field study to optimize the nitrogen (N) top-dressing mode of panicle fertilization and improve rice yields was conducted in mid-eastern China. Japonica cultivar Yunongjing-6 was grown and panicle N fertilizer was applied at the beginning of the inverted fourth leaf stage using three different modes: manual broadcast application (BA) on the soil surface as a control treatment, deep application during ditching at a depth of 15 cm (DD) and manual BA on the soil surface during deep ditching (BAD). The activity of soil enzymes, including invertase, urease, phosphatase and catalase, was increased significantly at the jointing, booting and grain-filling stages with the DD and BAD treatments compared with the traditional BA mode. The DD and BAD treatments also increased basal internode and neck-panicle internode bleeding intensity. The DD treatment gave the highest crop yield, increasing the yield by 0.63 and 0.31 t/hm2 in 2011 and 2012, respectively, compared with BA. The results suggest that ditching during panicle N fertilizer application after sun-drying of the fields increases rice yields, most likely by improving the activity of soil enzymes and enhancing the physiological activity of roots and grain weight.
Palm oil (PO) is a very important commodity used as food, in pharmaceuticals, for cooking and as biodiesel: PO is a major contributor to the economies of many countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. Novel tropical regions are being explored increasingly to grow oil palm as current land decreases, whilst recent published modelling studies by the current authors for Malaysia and Indonesia indicate that the climate will become less suitable. Countries that grow the crop commercially include those in Latin America, Africa and Asia. How will climate change (CC) affect the ability to grow oil palm in these countries? Worldwide projections for apt climate were made using Climex software in the present paper and the global area with unsuitable climate was assessed to increase by 6%, whilst highly suitable climate (HSC) decreased by 22% by 2050. The suitability decreases are dramatic by 2100 suggesting regions totally unsuitable for growing OP, which are currently appropriate: the global area with unsuitable climate increased from 154 to 169 million km(2) and HSC decreased from 17 to 4 million km(2). This second assessment of Indonesia and Malaysia confirmed the original findings by the current authors of large decreases in suitability. Many parts of Latin America and Africa were dramatically decreased: reductions in HSC for Brazil, Columbia and Nigeria are projected to be 119 000, 35 and 1 from 5 000 000, 219 and 69 km(2), respectively. However, increases in aptness were observed in 2050 for Paraguay and Madagascar (HSC increases were 90 and 41%, respectively), which were maintained until 2100 (95 and 45%, respectively). Lesser or transient increases were seen for a few other countries. Hot, dry and cold climate stresses upon oil palm for all regions are also provided. These results have negative implications for growing oil palm in countries as: (a) alternatives to Malaysia and Indonesia or (b) economic resources per se. The inability to grow oil palm may assist in amelioration of CC, although the situation is complex. Data suggest a moderate movement of apposite climate towards the poles as previously predicted.
The present study investigates regional climate change impacts on agricultural crop production in Central and Eastern Europe, including local case studies with different focuses in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The area studied experiences a continental European climate and is characterized by strong climatic gradients, which may foster regional differences or trends in the impacts of climate change on agriculture. To study the regional aspects and variabilities of climate change impacts on agriculture, the effect of climate change on selected future agroclimatic conditions, crop yield and variability (including the effect of higher ambient CO2 concentrations) and the most important yield limiting factors, such as water availability, nitrogen balance and the infestation risks posed by selected pests were studied. In general, the results predicted significant agroclimatic changes over the entire area during the 21st century, affecting agricultural crop production through various pathways. Simulated crop yield trends confirmed past regional studies but also revealed that yield-limiting factors may change fromregion to region. For example, pest pressures, as demonstrated by examining two pests, are likely to increase due to warmer conditions. In general, higher potentials for cereal yield increase are seen for wetter and cooler regions (i.e. uplands) than for the drier and warmer lowlands, where yield potentials will be increasingly limited by decreasing crop water availability and heat under most scenarios. In addition, yield variability will increase during the coming decades, but this may decrease towards the end of the 21st century. The present study contributes to the interpretation of previously conducted climate change impact and adaptation studies for agriculture and may prove useful in proposing future research in this field.
Drought represents one of the major constraints on agricultural productivity and food security and in future is destined to spread widely as a consequence of climate change. Research efforts are focused on developing strategies to make crops more resilient and to mitigate the effects of stress on crop production. In this context, the use of root-associated microbial communities and chemical priming strategies able to improve plant tolerance to abiotic stresses, including drought, have attracted increasing attention in recent years. The current review offers an overview of recent research aimed at verifying the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and chemical agents to improve plant tolerance to drought and to highlight the mechanisms involved in this improvement. Attention will be devoted mainly to current knowledge on the mechanisms involved in water transport.
Methane, in addition to being a significant source of energy loss to the animal that can range from 0·02 to 0·12 of gross energy intake, is one of the major greenhouse gases being targeted for reduction by the Kyoto protocol. Thus, one of the focuses of recent research in animal science has been to develop or improve existing methane prediction models in order to increase overall understanding of the system and to evaluate mitigation strategies for methane reduction. Several dynamic mechanistic models of rumen function have been developed which contain hydrogen gas balance sub-models from which methane production can be predicted. These models predict methane production with varying levels of success and in many cases could benefit from further development. Central to methane prediction is accurate volatile fatty acid prediction, representation of the competition for substrate usage within the rumen, as well as descriptions of protozoal dynamics and pH. Most methane models could also largely benefit from an expanded description of lipid metabolism and hindgut fermentation. The purpose of the current review is to identify key aspects of rumen microbiology that could be incorporated into, or have improved representation within, a model of ruminant digestion and environmental emissions.
Fifteen lactating Damascus goats (44 +/- 08 kg body weight) were used in a completely randomized design to evaluate the supplementation of Chlorella vulgaris microalgae at 0 (Control), 5 (Alg05) and 10 g/goat/day (Alg10) for 12 weeks. Chlorella vulgaris treatments increased feed intake and apparent diet digestibility compared with a control diet. No differences were noted in the ruminal pH and ammonia-N concentrations, but increased concentration of total volatile fatty acids and propionic acid were observed in goats fed with Alg05 and Alg10. Diets of Alg05 and Alg10 increased serum glucose concentration but decreased glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase, glutamate-pyruvate transaminase and cholesterol concentrations. Additionally, C. vulgaris supplementation moderately increased milk yield, energy corrected milk, total solids, solids not fat and lactose. Feeding Alg05 and Alg10 diets increased milk unsaturated fatty acids with concomitant increases in total conjugated linoleic acid concentrations. It is concluded that the daily inclusion of 5 or 10 g of C. vulgaris in the diets of Damascus goats increased milk yield and positively modified milk fatty acid profile.
A collection of 26 wheat genotypes widely grown in Spain during the 20th century was evaluated in eight contrasting environments in order to quantify breeding achievements in yield and associated traits. From 1930 to 2000, yield increased at a rate of 35.1 kg/ha/yr or 0.88%/yr, but estimations of relative genetic gain (RGG) were environment-dependent. RGG estimated for yield were positively associated with the average minimum daily temperatures from sowing to heading in the testing environments (R-2=0.81; P < 0.01). The number of grains/spike and the number of spikes/m(2) increased at a rate of 0.60%/yr and 0.30%/yr, respectively, while grain weight remained unchanged. The present study detected two main episodes of yield improvement during the century. The first one coincided with the introduction, during the 1950s, of the first improved cultivars derived from intra-specific crosses, which increased the yield of landraces by 30% due to an increase of c. 58% in the number of grains/spike, accompanied by a 16% reduction in grain weight. These initial cultivars (termed 'old-bred' in a previous study by Sanchez-Garcia et al. 2012) exhibited a higher harvest index (HI), increased from 0.25 to 0.40, but maintained the same aboveground biomass at maturity as the landraces (despite reducing both plant height and the number of tillers/plant) due to increases in the proportion of tillers bearing spikes. The second yield gain occurred after the introduction, in the early 1970s, of semi-dwarf germplasm from CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre) and some French cultivars. This new germplasm further reduced plant height, improved HI up to 0.45 and increased the number of tillers/plant while maintaining their rate of fertility, thus resulting in a yield gain of c. 37%. The cultivars released during the last decade of the century did not contribute to significant yield improvements.
The present paper focuses on the physiology of yield potential in wheat (Triticitin aestivuln L.), because breeding progress in yield potential has overtaken farm yield progress. The paper examines developments largely in the last 10 years seeking routes to higher yield potential. Lately this subject has come under pressure from two new imperatives: perceived slowing of genetic progress and ambitious functional genomics. Analysis of trials between 1996 and 2005 at the CIANO research centre in northwest Mexico suggests that yield potential progress in CIMMYT spring wheats has slowed to around 0-50% per year, but has not ceased there nor in winter wheats elsewhere. Meanwhile, in the last 10 years or so, physiological understanding has advanced somewhat. Increased kernel number/m(2) remains strongly associated with genetic progress in grain yield, and new research reinforces the importance of spike dry weight (g/m(2)) at anthesis in its determination. Lengthening the spike growth period through manipulation of sensitivity to photoperiod looks promising, but more attention to kernels per unit of spike weight is also urged. With respect to plant height, an optimum somewhere between 0(.)7 and 1(.)0 m is accepted and we are moving away from infatuation with the Norin 10 dwarfing genes as a way of reaching that. What has not been achieved is good lodging resistance in all short spring wheats, nor a complete understanding of its physiological basis. New information is coming to light on the possible role of stored stem reserves at anthesis, for these reserves appear to have increased as yield potential has increased. Part of the benefit may be related to assimilate supply per kernel around anthesis, which new understanding suggests is important for maximum potential kernel weight. Nevertheless, results continue to suggest that despite more kernels/m(2), the most recent wheats are still largely sink-limited during grain filling. Growing evidence from spring and winter wheat (and from rice and maize) now points to the importance of increased photosynthetic activity before and around flowering for recent genetic increases in yield potential. This opens up new possibilities for selection in field plots. Finally, attention is given to effects of weather on yield potential and recent advances in techniques for elucidating the physiological basis of Genotype by year interactions. From physiological understanding such as described, traits can be suggested as possible selection criteria for yield potential. However, apart from the ACIAR/CIMMYT project looking at stomatal aperture-related traits as well as source and sink traits (Condon et al., in press; Reynolds et al., in press; van Ginkel et al., in press), there appear to have been few attempts to validate physiological (or morphological) selection criteria for wheat yield potential in the last decade, but recent promising results with spectral reflection indices could foreshadow more validation work. This contrasts with efforts to improve the performance of wheat (and maize) under water-limited conditions, and with the new plant type and super rice approaches of IRRI and China, respectively. Such research could be mapped out for wheat yield potential improvement, and could lead to more efficient breeding for yield potential and/or faster progress, but it requires a multidisciplinary team, including, nowadays, molecular biologists. It also needs suitable controlled and field environments and substantial long-term support. All this may no longer be availabe in the public sector, at least at a single location.
Differences in forage nutritive value between morning and afternoon are related to patterns of dehydration and carbohydrate accumulation throughout the day. In this way, management strategies that maximize grazing time during the afternoon could increase forage nutritive value and consequently nutrient intake. The aim of the current experiment was to evaluate the effect of the time of day (06.00 h [designated AM] or 15.00 h [PM]) that cattle are moved to a new paddock on forage nutritive value, grazing behaviour and animal performance of beef cattle on rotationally stocked Marandu palisadegrass (Brachiaria brizantha cv. Marandu Syn. Urochloa brizantha cv. Marandu) pastures. A spring and summer study was conducted in Pirassununga, SP, Brazil from October 2012 to March 2013 (182 days). Treatments were distributed in a randomized complete block design with three replications. Herbage mass, morphological composition, herbage allowance and stocking rates were similar between treatments during spring and summer. Moving animals to a new paddock, regardless of the time of day - 06.00 h (AM) or 15.00 h (PM) - stimulated grazing, modifying the distribution of meals throughout the day. However, compensatory mechanisms among grazing time, bite rate and forage nutritive value throughout the day operated in order to generate similar performance between animals offered a new paddock in the morning or in the afternoon.
A field experiment with the 3(5-1) fractional factorial design and five factors (k = 5) at three levels (s = 3) was performed in 2007-2010 at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Balcyny, north-eastern (NE) Poland. The results of the experiment carried out under the agro-ecological conditions of NE Poland confirmed the high yield potential of common wheat and satisfactory yield potential of spelt and durum wheat. On average, durum wheat and spelt yields were 2.14 and 2.55 t/ha lower, respectively, than common wheat yields. Sowing date was not correlated with the yields of analysed Triticum species. Seed rate (350, 450 and 550 seeds/m(2)) had no significant influence on the grain yield of winter cultivars of common wheat, durum wheat and spelt. Common wheat cv. Oliwin and durum wheat cv. Komnata were characterized by the highest yields in response to nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates calculated based on the N-min content of soil. An increase in the spring fertilizer rate by 40 kg N/ha in excess of the balanced N rate was not justified because it did not induce a further increase in the grain yield of common wheat and durum wheat. The grain yield of spelt cv. Schwabenkorn continued to increase in response to the highest rate of N fertilizer in spring (40 kg N/ha higher than the optimal rate). Intensified fungicide treatments improved grain yield in all Triticum species.
The effects of growing pinto peanut mixed with elephant grass-based pastures are still little known. The aim of the current research was to evaluate the performance of herbage yield, nutritive value of forage and animal responses to levels of pinto peanut forage mass mixed with elephant grass in low-input systems. Three grazing systems were evaluated: (i) elephant grass-based (control); (ii) pinto peanut, low-density forage yield (63 g/kg of dry matter - DM) + elephant grass; and (iii) pinto peanut, high-density dry matter forage yield (206 g/kg DM) + elephant grass. The experimental design was completely randomized with the three treatments (grazing systems) and three replicates (paddocks) in split-plot grazing cycles. Forage samples were collected to evaluate the pasture and animal responses. Leaf blades of elephant grass and the other companion grasses of pinto peanut were collected to analyse the crude protein, in vitro digestible organic matter and total digestible nutrients. The pinto peanut, high-density dry matter forage yield + elephant grass treatment was found to give the best results in terms of herbage yield, forage intake and stocking rate, as well as having higher crude protein contents for both elephant grass and the other grasses, followed by pinto peanut with low-density forage yield + elephant grass and finally elephant grass alone. Better results were found with the grass-legume system for pasture and animal responses.
A feeding trial involving growing piglets was undertaken to establish whether feed supplemented with whey protein concentrate (WPC), exhibiting antioxidant properties, had any effects on welfare and meat quality. For that purpose, 48 weaned piglets (20-days-old) were assigned to two experimental groups receiving standard or experimental diet for 30 days. Blood and tissue collection were performed at various time-points. The following oxidative stress markers were assessed: reduced glutathione (GSH), catalase activity, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), protein carbonyls (CARB) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) decomposition activity. The effects on bacterial growth and the fatty acid profile of meat were also assessed. Results showed that piglets fed with the WPC-supplemented diet had significantly increased antioxidant mechanisms in almost all tissues tested, as indicated by increases in GSH, H2O2 decomposition activity and TAC compared with the control group. Piglets fed with the experimental diet exhibited decreased oxidative stress-induced damage to lipids and proteins, as shown by decreases in TBARS and CARB in the WPC group compared with the control group. In addition, the experimental diet enhanced growth of facultative probiotic bacteria and lactic acid bacteria and inhibited growth of pathogen populations. In addition, WPC inclusion in piglets' diet increased n-3 fatty acids significantly and decreased n-6/n-3 ratio significantly compared with the control group. The current study showed that WPC inclusion in the diet had a significant effect on welfare and meat quality of growing piglets.
Heading date (HD) and flowering date (FD) are critical for yield potential and stability, so understanding their genetic foundation is of great significance in wheat breeding. Three related recombinant inbred line populations with a common female parent were developed to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for HD and FD in four environments. In total, 25 putative additive QTL and 20 pairwise epistatic effect QTL were detected in four environments. The additive QTL were distributed across 17 wheat chromosomes. Of these, QHd-1A, QHd-1D, QHd-2B, QHd-3B, QHd-4A, QHd-4B and QHd-6D were major and stable QTL for HD. QFd-1A, QFd-2B, QFd-4A and QFd-4B were major and stable QTL for FD. In addition, an epistatic interaction test showed that epistasis played important roles in controlling wheat HD and FD. Genetic relationships between HD/FD and five yield-related traits (YRTs) were characterized and ten QTL clusters (C1-C10) simultaneously controlling YRTs and HD/FD were identified. The present work laid a genetic foundation for improving yield potential in wheat molecular breeding programmes.
Despite the global importance of Capsicum species, there is limited information on the indigenous endomycorrhizal fungal association in this crop. Therefore, the diversity and colonization patterns of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in roots of Naga King chilli (Capsicum chinense) were assessed during pre-flowering, flowering and fruit ripening growth stages under a sub-tropical shifting cultivation system of North Eastern India. All the roots examined had AMF colonization and the presence of Paris-type arbuscular mycorrhizal morphology is reported for the first time in C. chinense. A total of 11 AMF spore morphotypes were isolated from both field and trap culture soils. Maximum AMF spore density and root colonization were recorded during the pre-flowering and flowering stages, respectively. The influence of Funneliformis geosporum, individually or in combination with Pseudomonas fluorescens and Azotobacter chroococcum, on growth and yield of C. chinense, was evaluated in a pot experiment using sterilized and non-sterilized soils. The application of AMF and P. fluorescens to sterilized soil significantly increased the growth, flower and fruit production, and nutrient content of C. chinense. The highest growth rates and yields of C. chinense in non-sterilized soils were achieved when AMF was combined with both P. fluorescens and A. chroococcum. The results of the current study indicate the value of applying microorganisms to improve plant growth and performance in chillies. One of the mechanisms for this could be the facilitated assimilation of nutrients promoted by AMF and bacterial bioinoculants.
The use of cactus cladodes in animal feed is well-established in semi-arid areas. The cactus Nopalea cochenillifera (L.) Salm-Dyck cladodes (Nopalea) have high acceptability amongst dairy cows and are resistant to carmine cochineal insects (Dactylopius opuntiae Cockerell), a problem in semi-arid regions, but in regions of prolonged drought, it has lower productivity compared with the cactus Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw cladodes (Opuntia), which is also resistant to the insect. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the intake and content of digestible material of dry matter (DM) and its components, feeding behaviour, microbial protein synthesis, nitrogen balance, blood parameters, performance and milk composition of Holstein cows fed a control diet, containing either Nopalea or Opuntia associated with different concentrate levels (225, 275, 325 and 375 g/kg). Ten cows with an initial average milk production of 20 +/- 2.1 kg/day were distributed into a double 5 x 5 Latin square design. Diets containing 775 g roughage/kg and 225 g concentrate/kg promoted similar responses to the analysed variables regardless of the cactus cladode used, except for digestibility of neutral detergent fibre. Diets containing higher proportions of concentrate (325 and 375 g/kg) promoted greater DM intake and 3.5% fat-corrected milk yield. The diet containing Opuntia at 775:225 g/kg roughage:concentrate proportion is as effective as the control diet for Holstein cows producing 20 kg of milk/day. To promote greater milk production, higher proportions of concentrate should be added to diets using Opuntia.