Moringa oleifera is a rich source of antioxidants and a promising feed for livestock, due to significant amounts of protein, vitamins, carotenoids and polyphenols, and negligible amounts of anti-nutritional factors. The current study tested whether ensiling would preserve the antioxidant capacity of M. oleifera plants, and assessed whether Moringa silage, fed as a substitute for maize silage, would confer health-promoting traits and affect milk production in dairy cows. To this end, hand- harvested M. oleifera plants were ensiled, with or without molasses and inoculants, in anaerobic jars at room temperature (25 degrees C) for 37 days. At the end of the storage period the silages were analysed for pH, lactic acid and acetic acid concentrations, aerobic stability, antioxidant capacity, polyphenols and protein content, and tocopherols and carotenoids concentrations. Moringa silages exhibited higher antioxidant capacity compared with fresh and dried Moringa plants, not related to polyphenol content but presumably attributed to accumulation of amino acids and low molecular weight peptides. Based on these findings, a large-scale ensiling protocol was implemented, followed by a feeding trial for dairy cows, in which Moringa silage replaced 263 g maize silage/kg in the diet. Cows fed Moringa silage had higher milk yield and antioxidant capacity and lower milk somatic cell counts compared with controls, during some stages of lactation. These findings imply that ensiling M. oleifera is an appropriate practice by which health and production of dairy cows can be improved.
A range of wheat cultivars, including elite cultivars, older cultivars and some preferred by organic growers, were trialled under high and low nitrogen (N) conventional and organic conditions to determine whether cultivars that yield highly under organic conditions have the same relative yield under conventional conditions. A range of cultivar mixtures was also assessed to see whether these gave yield advantages or superiority in either farming system. The conventional trials were grown with and without full fungicide programmes, which largely controlled disease. Amongst the cultivars, Alchemy showed superior yield under organic conditions as did Pegassos, but under conventional conditions Pegassos was always one of the low-ranking cultivars. Under conventional conditions the more recent cultivars Alchemy, Glasgow and Istabraq yielded highly, while an older one, Consort, yielded highly under low fertilizer conditions, and both Ambrosia and Deben also yielded highly generally. Fungicide and high N favoured the disease-susceptible, high-yield cultivars such as Glasgow whereas Consort, an older susceptible cultivar, was favoured by fungicide and low N. Together this demonstrates that whilst the yield characteristics of some elite germplasm are also expressed under organic conditions, at least one cultivar that yielded poorly under conventional conditions showed adaptation towards the organic conditions of these trials. Other cultivars yielding poorly under conventional conditions also gave poor yield under organic conditions. The equal proportion mixtures of cultivars grown under conventional conditions showed no evidence of differences in yield from the mean of the component cultivars grown separately, but combinations of Glasgow, Alchemy and Istabraq gave consistently high yield.
The effects of soil variability on regional crop yield under projected climate change are largely unknown. In Southeastern Norway, increased temperature and precipitation are projected for the mid-21st century. Crop simulation models in combination with scaling techniques can be used to determine the regional pattern of crop yield. In the present paper, the CSM-CROPSIM-CERES-Wheat model was applied to simulate regional spring wheat yield for Akershus and Ostfold counties in Southeastern Norway. Prior to the simulations, parameters in the CSM-CROPSIM-CERES-Wheat model were calibrated for the spring wheat cvars Zebra, Demonstrant and Bjarne, using cultivar trial data from Southeastern Norway and site-specific weather and soil information. Weather input data for regional yield simulations represented the climate in 1961-1990 and projections of the climate in 2046-2065. The latter were based on four Global Climate Models and greenhouse gas emission scenario A1B in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report. Data on regional soil particle size distribution, water-holding characteristics and organic matter data were obtained from a database. To determine the simulated grain yield sensitivity to soil input, the number of soil profiles used to describe the soilscape in the region varied from 76 to 16, 5 and 1. The soils in the different descriptions were selected by arranging them into groups according to similarities in physical characteristics and taking the soil in each group occupying the largest area in the region to represent other soils in that group. The simulated grain yields were higher under all four projected future climate scenarios than the corresponding average yields in the baseline conditions. On average across the region, there were mostly non-significant differences in grain yield between the soil extrapolations for all cultivars and climate projections. However, for sub-regions grain yield varied by up to 20% between soil extrapolations. These results indicate how projected climate change could affect spring wheat yield given the assumed simulated conditions for a region with similar climate and soil conditions to many other cereal production regions in Northern Europe. The results also provide useful information about how soil input data could be handled in regional crop yield determinations under these conditions.
Analysed chemical composition of feedstuffs offered during the experiment ￂ Hay Concentrate Dry matter 932 908 Organic matter* 925 976 Crude protein (CP) 62 114 Pre-caecal digestible CP*[dagger] 36 91 Lysine (LYS) 2·4 4·4 Pre-caecal digestible LYS*[dagger] 1·8 3·4 Methionine + cysteine (MET+CYS) 1·9 5·2 Pre-caecal digestible MET+CYS*[dagger] 1·4 4·1 Threonine (THR) 2·5 4·0 Pre-caecal digestible THR*[dagger] 1·8 3·1 Acid ether extract 10 31 Nitrogen-free extract* 493 731 Crude fibre 360 100 Neutral detergent fibre 664 397 Acid detergent fibre 419 135 Acid detergent lignin 69 30 Cellulose* 350 105 Hemicellulose* 245 263 Gross energy 17·5 18·3 Metabolizable energy*[Dagger] 6·1 12·6 Nutrient values are given in g/kg dry matter (DM), energy contents in MJ/kg DM. * Calculated on the basis of analysed nutrient or energy contents. [dagger].Calculations refer to:[...]in the MATERIALS AND METHODS, sub-section 'Statistical analyses', the description of Model 2 was incomplete: 'where y ijk are measurements of SFQ or estimates of zootechnical variables as a function of factors i, j and k; [...
The low genetic diversity of cacao germplasm collections in West Africa is often cited as a limitation to further yield improvement of the crop in its major production countries. Twelve clones obtained from first cycle selection for yield and clones available in international genebanks were tested for their combining ability for key agronomic traits by using these as males in crosses with five female clones available in the Seed Gardens in Ghana. Progenies obtained from a North Carolina II (NC II) mating design and standard varieties were planted at two sites that contrast in terms of soil fertility, rainfall total and distribution. Fifty-eight progenies obtained from the 5 x 12 incomplete NC II mating design and six other progenies, of which two were standard varieties, were evaluated at the more favourable location. At the less favourable location, 44 progenies of the NC II mating design and 20 other progenies, including the two standard varieties, were planted. A randomized complete block design with four replications was used at both locations. Progenies with PA 7 as female parent had better seedling survival at the location with poorer production conditions. Low levels of genetic diversity among female clones at 86 single nucleotide polymorphism loci was reflected in larger standard errors for the additive variance due to female parents relative to that due to male parents. Non-additive genetic effects were much larger than the corresponding additive variance components for all traits at each of the two locations. Average yields over the fourth and fifth years after planting ranged from 023 to 129 t/ha/year. The standard varieties were not among the best progenies for seedling vigour, yield or yield efficiency (yield per unit trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) per year). Narrow-sense heritability estimates were higher for three estimates of tree vigour (estimated as increase in TCSA) than for yield traits. Heritability for yield efficiency was a moderate of h(2) = 05 +/- 023. The study indicates that further yield increments are attainable by selecting and crossing among the early cacao introductions into West Africa.
The goal of the present study was to improve the CERES-wheat model simulation of grain protein concentration (GPC) for winter durum wheat and to use the model as a basis for the development of a GPC Simplified Forecasting Index (SFIpro). The performances of CERES-wheat, which is one of the most widespread crop simulation models, with (i) its standard GPC routine and (ii) a novel equation developed to improve the model GPC simulation for durum wheat, were assessed through comparison with field data. Subsequently, CERES-wheat was run for a 56-year period in order to identify the most important status and forcing variables affecting GPC simulation. The number of dry days during the early growth stages and the leaf area index (LAI; green leaf area per unit ground surface area) at heading stage (LAI5) were identified as the main variables positively correlated with CERES-wheat predicted GPC, and so included in the SFIpro. At validation against observed data SFIpro was found to perform differently on the basis of observed plant LAI. In fact, SFIpro was able to forecast GPC variability for intermediate values of LAI5 ranging from 1 to 2, while it totally failed when LAI5 was outside this range (LAI5 2). The results suggest that the relationship between LAI and GPC is not linear and that the model assumptions for GPC simulation in CERES-wheat are only partially confirmed, being valid for an intermediate range of LAI.
Recently, organic farming systems have attracted the attention of consumers because of their low environmental impact. Organic agriculture is a valid alternative to conventional farming and ancient wheat, such as KAMUT (R) khorasan wheat (T. turgidum ssp. turanicum), has emerged as an industry leader for its nutritional and functional properties (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and prebiotic). The aim of the present study was to evaluate environmental effects on the quality of KAMUT (R) khorasan grains harvested in the last two decades (1989-2012) on one farm in Montana (USA), through the evaluation of phytochemical accumulation. Results revealed high variability in the amounts of macronutrients and nutraceuticals. In particular, from 1989 to 2012, there was a decreasing trend in starch content (ranging from 70.87 to 50.54/100 g) and amylose (from 41.48 to 31.46% of total starch) with a slight increase of insoluble dietary fibre (from 12.14 to 17.75/100 g). The soluble dietary fibre content varied among the years of cultivation even if the general trend remained constant (4.57-2.82/100 g). High variability of total polyphenols content was observed with the free soluble fraction present at lower levels than bound polyphenols (BP). Moreover, an inverse correlation between free and BP was observed. The results obtained in the present study show that the influence of environmental conditions plays a fundamental role in the accumulation of primary and secondary metabolites in wheat kernels and strongly modulate the nutritional and nutraceutical value of flour.
APETALA2/ethylene-responsive factor (AP2/ERF) family transcription factors play a vital role in plant growth and in response to hormones and abiotic stresses. In the current research, it is reported that OsDERF2, one of the drought-responsive ERF, is a member of the DREB sub-family. OsDERF2 is a nuclear-localized protein and has transcriptional activity in yeast. Expression of OsDERF2 was induced by drought and inhibited by abscisic acid (ABA). However, OsDERF2 RNA interference (RNAi) knock-down transgenic lines enhanced tolerance to drought stress at seedling stage and were much more sensitive to ABA treatment, which may result from the increased ABA level in vivo. The basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor family plays an important role in the ABA signalling pathway of abiotic stress. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that the bZIP family gene OsbZIP20 and ABA-response gene OsABA45 were up-regulated 25 times and 120 times, respectively, in OsDERF2 RNAi knock-down lines under drought stress, which were up-regulated five and seven times in wild type under drought stress. The current data reveal that OsDERF2 negatively modulates drought stress response in an ABA-mediated pathway through regulating gene expression of other ABA-response transcription factors.
Cowpea genotypes that efficiently utilize phosphorus (P) with high potential for biological nitrogen (N) fixation (BNF) are vital to sustainable cropping systems in West Africa. A total of 175 early maturing cowpea genotypes were evaluated in 2010 and 2011 for P use efficiency (PUE) and BNF with an indigenous rhizobial population at Shika in the Northern Guinea savanna of Nigeria. There were significant genotypic variations for all 11 variables measured. The P utilization index, percentage N derived from the atmosphere and total N fixed ranged between 2.10-4.67, 31.3-61.86% and 11.86-50 kg/ha, respectively. The 175 early maturing cowpea genotypes were divided into five categories using principal component analysis (PCA), whereby total N fixed was associated with N and P uptake and plant biomass yield. Complete linkage cluster analysis revealed a total of three distinctive clusters having remarkable correspondence with the PCA. Some genotypes were identified as potential candidates for further breeding programmes using high PUE genotypes with relatively high capacity for BNF and indigenous rhizobial populations.
Lutein benefits human health significantly, including that of the eyes, skin and heart. Therefore, increasing lutein content in soybean seeds is an important objective for breeding programmes. However, no information about soybean lutein-related quantitative trait loci (QTL) has been reported, as of 2016. The aim of the present study was to identify QTLs underlying the lutein content in soybean seeds. A population including 129 recombinant inbred lines was developed from the cross between 'Dongnong46' (lutein 13.10 mu g/g) and 'L-100' (lutein 23.96 mu g/g), which significantly differed in seed lutein contents. This population was grown in ten environments including Harbin in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; Hulan in 2013, 2014 and 2015; and Acheng in 2013, 2014 and 2015. A total of 213 simple sequence repeat markers were used to construct the genetic linkage map, which covered approximately 3623.39 cM, with an average distance of 17.01 cM between markers. In the present study, eight QTLs associated with lutein content were found initially, which could explain 1.01-19.66% of the observed phenotypic variation in ten different tested environments. The phenotypic contribution of qLU-1 (located near BARC-Satt588 on chromosome 9 (Chr 9; linkage group (LG) K)) was >10% across seven tested environments, while qLU-2 (located near Satt192 of Chr 12 (LG H)) and qLU-3 (located near Satt353 of Chr12 (LGH)) could explain 5-10% of the observed phenotypic variation in more than seven environments, respectively. qLU-5, qLU-6, qLU-7 and qLU-8 could be detected in more than four environments. These eight QTLs were novel, and have considerable potential value for marker-assistant selection of higher lutein content in soybean lines.
The Eastern Gangetic Plain is among the world's most intensively farmed regions, where rainfed and irrigated agriculture coexist. While the region and especially Bangladesh is a major producer of rice (Oryza sativa L. ssp. indica), there is potential to further develop sustainable rice production systems. Specifically, there is scope to include a replacement crop for the short fallow between rice crops in the dominant cropping pattern of rainfed monsoon rice harvest followed by irrigated spring rice. The aim of the current research was to identify a suitable cool-season legume crop - pea (Pisum sativum L.) or lentil (Lens culinaris Medik. ssp. culinaris) - that could be grown in the brief period between rice crops. The study comprised four crop sequence experiments comparing legume cultivars differing in maturity grown in between both long and short duration rice cultivars. These experiments were done at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute regional station at Rajshahi over three cropping cycles. This was followed by an evaluation of pea vs. fallow between rice crops on three farmers' fields in one cropping cycle. Here it is demonstrated that green pod vegetable pea is one of the best options to intensify the rainfed monsoon rice-fallow-spring irrigated rice cropping system, notwithstanding other remunerative rabi cropping options that could displace boro rice. The inclusion of an extra crop, pea as green pod vegetable, increased farm productivity by 1.4-fold over the dominant cropping sequence (rice-fallow-rice) and farm net income by fourfold. The study highlighted the advantages in total system productivity and monetary return of crop intensification with the inclusion of a pea crop between successive rice crops instead of a fallow period.
Little is known about the quantitative relationships between wheat powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici) epidemics and climatic variables at the provincial scale in China, particularly under climate change. The present study assesses the actual disease process and corresponding impact on wheat yield and addresses climatic-driven variables that affect a powdery mildew epidemic. Powdery mildew increased in frequency from 1981 to 2010, and wheat yield decreased in most regions. It was clear that differences in disease and yield loss occurred temporally and spatially. Although particular weather variables were positively or negatively related to the disease, multiple stepwise regression analysis indicated that mostly fewer than three variables affected prevalence and severity of powdery mildew in each province. In most cases, some combination of higher temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind led to higher disease severity. These weather factors had different effects on disease development. The influence of climatic variables on powdery mildew tended to decrease from 1981 to 2010, whereas the effect of non-climatic factors increased and was attributed mainly to the use of fungicides and resistant cultivars. Therefore, the results of the current study suggest that wheat powdery mildew in China will not increase consistently in the future. In addition, the quantitative assessment method used in the current study can generally provide a good way to identify disease epidemics under climate change.
The objective of the present study was to calculate an optimal harvest period for both fresh and ensiled samples of forage maize and to calculate a set of harvest dates (called a harvest window), for which the variety ranking of the fresh forage corresponds with the variety ranking at the optimal harvest period calculated from the ensiled forage. Forage maize is fed almost exclusively as silage, but official variety trials with silage maize determine quality parameters in fresh (i.e. non-preserved) forage. Eight silage maize varieties were monitored at six harvest dates (from 25 to 40% dry matter content) in Merelbeke (Belgium) in 2013-15. At each harvest date, fresh samples were taken and half of the sampled material was ensiled in micro silos for 20 weeks. An optimal harvest period was calculated based on frequently measuring starch concentration and organic matter digestibility for both fresh and ensiled forage. Eventually, harvesting the silage maize at a dry matter content of 32-35% guaranteed an optimal harvest period. Based on the results of eight varieties, reporting variety ranks without going through the ensiling process continues to be a scientifically justified practice in Belgian official variety trials. Varieties with a superior fresh quality keep their leading position after ensiling, but variety differences become smaller after ensiling.
Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production on the Loess Plateau in China has been threatened by water scarcity and climate change during the last decade. Sustainable crop production in this region requires managerial practices that can provide high yield and high water productivity (WP). A 7-year (2001-2008) study at the Loess Plateau Research Station of Lanzhou University investigated the effects of various conservation tillage practices on grain yield, soil water content (SWC), WP and economic return of winter wheat production. Tillage treatments included: conventional tillage (T), conventional tillage followed by stubble retention (TS), no-till (NT) and no-till followed by stubble retention (NTS). Over the entire experimental period, grain yield and WP of winter wheat ranged from 1279 to 4894 kg/ha and 0.32 to 2.41 kg/m(3), respectively. Both were significantly affected by tillage treatment and year, while SWC was only affected by year. Grain yield and WP in TS was increased by 4.9, 12.1, 0.9% and 13.7, 20.4 and 3.9% compared with NTS, NT and T, respectively, over seven growing seasons. Additionally, a multiple linear regression analysis indicated that grain yield is mainly limited by SWC during planting. Despite its lower grain yield, the NTS treatment increased economic benefit by US$ 328, US$ 23 and US$ 87/ha compared with TS, NT and T, respectively. Therefore, it is suggested that increasing soil water storage at wheat sowing time and encouraging the use of NTS could improve economic returns in this region.
Identification of new effective strategies for improving crop yields under environmental stresses such as drought represent key priorities for researchers around the globe. In the present study, the effects of different methods of exogenous selenium (Se) supply viz. Se seed priming, Se fertigation and Se foliar spray on yield of spring wheat under normal and water deficit conditions were investigated. Two field experiments were conducted using one indigenous drought-tolerant genotype (Kohistan-97) and a sensitive genotype (Pasban-90) to understand the role of Se in improving wheat yield. The experiments were laid out in a split-split plot design with three replications during consecutive years (2011/12 and 2012/13) and the plants were exposed to water stress by withholding irrigation at two different wheat growth stages, viz. tillering and anthesis. It was noted that drought stress significantly affected the yield attributes of wheat; however, exogenous Se supply was observed to be helpful in improving the drought tolerance potential and yield of water-stressed wheat plants through maintenance of plant water status. A significant increase in wheat yield by Se supply was also noted under normal conditions. The normal plants fertigated with Se maintained the highest values for number of productive tillers, spike length, number of grains per spike, thousand-grain weight, biological and grain yield with no significant difference from Se foliar spray at the tillering stage, which was found to be the most effective method of exogenous Se supply for improving wheat yield under water deficit conditions. Moreover, Se fertigation and foliar spray resulted in the maximum accumulation of Se in shoots and gave the highest net return and cost-benefit ratio under drought stress conditions. The present study is one of the few reports on the role of Se in alleviating water stress for obtaining maximum profit in field grown spring wheat.
Drought is a major constraint to maize production in West and Central Africa (WCA). Assessment of genetic gain from S-1 recurrent selection under drought is crucial for the development of drought tolerance breeding strategies. In an early white population, 60 S-1 families each derived from the base population and three cycles of selection were evaluated under drought and well-watered conditions at two locations in Nigeria for 2 years to determine genetic variability, gains from selection and predict response to selection for grain yield and other traits. Genetic variances generally decreased for yield and other traits in advanced cycles under drought and well-watered conditions except yield and ear height under well-watered conditions. Similarly, heritabilities for yield and other traits decreased in advanced cycles under drought but increased in advanced cycles under well-watered conditions. Realized gain for yield was 0291 t/ha, corresponding to 305% per cycle under drought and 0352 kg/ha with a corresponding gain of 167% per cycle under well-watered conditions. Predicted gain based on C-3 was 0282 and 0583 t/ha under drought and well-watered conditions. Low genetic variances, heritabilities and predicted gain for yield and other traits suggested a need to introgress drought tolerance genes into the population.
Association mapping based on linkage disequilibrium is an effective approach for dissecting the inheritance of complex multi-gene traits. In the present study, association mapping was performed for yield traits based on 172 popular Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cultivars in China and 331 polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The gene diversity index of 331 markers ranged from 00387 to 07799 with an average of 04002, and the polymorphism information content ranged from 00379 to 07473 with an average of 03375. A total of 93 significantly associated markers for seven yield traits were identified across more than one environment, among which 11 were for seed cotton yield, 12 for lint yield, 11 for boll number per plant, 13 for boll weight, 21 for lint percentage, 14 for lint index and 11 for seed index. The corresponding ranges in phenotypic variation explained by markers across four environments for these seven traits were 175-1049, 175-934, 284-1180, 259-989, 238-1397, 273-1482 and 250-1188%, respectively. Some of the yield-associated markers detected were found to be linked to or associated with the same traits identified in previous studies. Furthermore, elite alleles for yield traits were also mined. The present study can provide useful information for further understanding the genetic basis of yield traits, and facilitate high-yield breeding by molecular design in Upland cotton.
SUMMARY Drought is a major constraint to maize production in West and Central Africa (WCA). Assessment of genetic gain from S1 recurrent selection under drought is crucial for the development of drought tolerance breeding strategies. In an early white population, 60 S1 families each derived from the base population and three cycles of selection were evaluated under drought and well-watered conditions at two locations in Nigeria for 2 years to determine genetic variability, gains from selection and predict response to selection for grain yield and other traits. Genetic variances generally decreased for yield and other traits in advanced cycles under drought and well-watered conditions except yield and ear height under well-watered conditions. Similarly, heritabilities for yield and other traits decreased in advanced cycles under drought but increased in advanced cycles under well-watered conditions. Realized gain for yield was 0·291 t/ha, corresponding to 30·5% per cycle under drought and 0·352 kg/ha with a corresponding gain of 16·7% per cycle under well-watered conditions. Predicted gain based on C3 was 0·282 and 0·583 t/ha under drought and well-watered conditions. Low genetic variances, heritabilities and predicted gain for yield and other traits suggested a need to introgress drought tolerance genes into the population.