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      Fruit cracking is a major disorder that affects the integrity of fruit and reduces the commercial value of tomato and other fleshy fruit. Here, we have found a novel fruit ‘netted-cracking’ (FNC) phenotype in tomato introgression line IL4-4 which is present in neither the donor parent (LA0716) nor the receptor parent (M82). An F population was generated by crossing IL4-4 with M82 to genetically characterize the gene and this showed that a single dominant gene determined fruit netted-cracking. Further map-based cloning narrowed down the locus to a 230 kb region on chromosome 4. Sequencing and annotation analysis show that (Solyc04 g082540) was the most likely candidate gene. Functional characterization of by overexpressing and resulted in the fruit netted-cracking phenotype, suggesting that the transcript level results in the functional gain of fruit netted-cracking. These findings were further confirmed by ortholog in netted-cracking pepper and melon, indicating a common regulatory mechanism in different plant species. Furthermore, cytoplasm and nucleus-localized indicates increased expression of genes involved in suberin, lignin, lipid transport and cell wall metabolism. These findings provide novel genetic insights into fruit netted-cracking and offer a way to promote molecular improvement toward cracking resistant cultivars.

      Chunli ZHANG ,   Taotao WANG   et al.
      Ongoing specialization of crop and livestock systems provides socioeconomic benefits to the farmer but has led to greater externalization of environmental costs when compared to mixed farming systems. Better integration of crop and livestock systems offers great potential to rebalance the economic and environmental trade-offs in both systems. The aims of this study were to analyze changes in farm structure and review and evaluate the potential for reintegrating specialized intensive crop and livestock systems, with specific emphasis on identifying the co-benefits and barriers to reintegration. Historically, animals were essential to recycle nutrients in the farming system but this became less important with the availability of synthetic fertilisers. Although mixed farm systems can be economically attractive, benefits of scale combined with socio-economic factors have resulted in on-farm and regional specialization with negative environmental impacts. Reintegration is therefore needed to reduce nutrient surpluses at farm, regional and national levels, and to improve soil quality in intensive cropping systems. Reintegration offers practical and cost-effective options to widen crop rotations and promotes the use of organic inputs and associated benefits, reducing dependency on synthetic fertilisers, biocides and manure processing costs. Circular agriculture goes beyond manure management and requires adaptation of both food production and consumption patterns, matching local capacity to produce with food demand. Consequently, feed transport, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient surpluses and nutrient losses to the environment can be reduced. It is concluded that reintegration of specialized farms within a region can provide benefits to farmers but may also lead to further intensification of land use. New approaches within a food system context offer alternatives for reintegration, but require strong policy incentives which show clear, tangible and lasting benefits for farmers, the environment and the wider community.

      The proportion of industrial livestock in China has increased over the past 30 years, which increases animal performance but causes the decoupling of crop and livestock production. Here, we aimed to quantify nutrient flows, nutrient use efficiency, and nutrient losses in different livestock systems in the North China Plain based on the NUFER-farm model. Activity data were collected by face-to-face surveys on pig and dairy (41 livestock farms) during 2016–2018. The two systems included industrial farms and mixed smallholdings. In mixed smallholdings, 4.0% and 9.6% of pig and dairy feed dry matter (DM) were derived from household farmland, but 4.8% and 9.3% of manure DM recycled to household farmland. Nutrient use efficiency in industrial farms was higher than in mixed smallholdings at animal level, herd level, and system level. To produce 1 kg N and P in animal products, nutrient losses in industrial pig farms (2.0 kg N and 1.3 kg P) were lower than in mixed pig smallholdings, nutrient losses in industrial dairy farms (2.7 kg N and 2.2 kg P) were slightly higher than in mixed dairy smallholdings. Liquid manure discharge in industrial farms was the main losses pathway in contrast to mixed smallholdings. This study suggests that feed localization can reduce nutrient surpluses at the district level. It is necessary to improve manure management and increase the degree of integrated crop-livestock in smallholdings. In industrial farms, it is desirable to increase the liquid manure recycling ratio through cooperating livestock and crop production at the district level.

      Yifei MA ,   Ling ZHANG   et al.
      Ascorbic acid (AsA, vitamin C) is involved in the regulation of many aspects of plant growth and development. It is an essential micronutrient for humans and can prevent scurvy, maintain the health of gums and blood vessels, reduce the level of plasma cholesterol and enhance the immune systen. Apple cultivars Orin and Guanghui were crossed to obtain a group of hybrid offspring with and without red flesh in the course of assessing apple germplasm resources. Unexpectedly, the red-flesh apples had higher AsA contents than other apples. Further studies showed that the anthocyanin biosynthetic regulator MdMYB1 directly activates the expression of dehydroascorbate reductase gene , thus promoting the activity of the DHAR enzyme and the accumulation of AsA. This finding reveals the mechanism leading to high AsA levels in red-flesh apples and suggests a new idea to cultivate red-flesh apples with high AsA contents and produce AsA efficiently and without pollution.

      Jianping AN ,   Xiaofei WANG   et al.

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