Cotton is an important economic crop in China and plays a vital role in improving farmers’ income. In recent years, cotton planting areas have dropped rapidly in China because of high labor cost and low profit. Defoliation is an indispensable step in cotton production with mechanical harvesting, especially in the North China Plain (NCP) where mechanical harvesting is limited by a large proportion of green leaves and unopened bolls at harvest time due to insufficient thermal resources. The goal of this study was to quantify the optimal use of defoliation products while minimizing yield and quality loss in China. The findings would offer valuable guidance for the management of cotton production, promote cotton mechanical harvesting and reduce the labor cost of cotton production in China. The pictures were provided by Engineering Research Center of Plant Growth Regulator, Ministry of Education/College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, China. See pages 2892–2899 for details.
Birth weight (BW) and days to 100 kg (D100) are important economic traits that are both affected by polygenes. The genetic architecture of these quantitative traits is still poorly understood. The BW and D100 are highly correlated and may be controlled by common genes. However, no study investigates the common loci and genes shared by BW and D100. Comparing to the low chip data, genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) data containing a large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have become a powerful tool for exploring the genetic mechanisms of quantitative traits. To identify the common genetic variants and candidate genes that contribute to the phenotypic variability of BW and D100, this study conducted a GWAS for BW and D100 using GBS data of 600 purebred Yorkshire pigs. Particularly, one locus located on SSC12 (position: 46 226 512 bp) was evaluated to affect both BW and D100 in Yorkshire pigs, indicating the pleiotropism in different traits. The NSRP1 and DOCK7 genes were identified as the most promising candidate genes involved in growth traits. Use of GBS is able to identify novel variants for BW and D100, and provide an opportunity for improving pig growth traits using genomic selection in pigs. The photo, provided by Prof. Tang Guoqing from the Sichuan Agricultural University, China, shows the significant loci and characteristics of Yorkshire pigs. See pages 2483–2490 for details.
Fusarium graminearum is a predominant causal agent of Fusarium head blight (FHB) or scab on staple food crops including wheat, barley and maize in most growing areas. In addition to severe yield and economic losses, F. graminearum produces mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEA) in the infected grains, which pose serious threats to human and animal health. Due to the lack of highly efficient disease-resistant cultivars, fungicides play a prominent role of reliable FHB management. However, with the development of resistance against fungicides, the efficiency of chemical control has been adversely affected. In order to establish efficient management strategies, a clear understanding of the pathogenesis of this devastating fungus seems particularly important. Nutrient and stress factor 1 (Nsf1), a transcription factor containing the classical Cys2-His2 (C2H2) zinc finger motif, is expressed under non-fermentable carbon conditions and in response to salt stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, the role of Nsf1 in filamentous fungi is not well understood. In this study, the orthologue of Nsf1 was investigated in F. graminearum (named FgNsf1), and the roles of FgNsf1 were elucidated by constructing a deletion mutant and its functional complementation mutant. The photo, provided by Prof. Chen Changjun from the Nanjing Agricultural University, China, shows the symptoms of FHB in the field induced by F. graminearum. See pages 2156–2169 in details.
Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is a new emerging tobamovirus and causes serious threat to the tomato industry. Since it was firstly reported by Jordan in 2015, ToBRFV has spread to America, Asia, and Europe. The photo, provided by Prof. Li Xiangdong from the Shandong Agricultural University, China, shows the brown rugose necrotic lesion symptoms induced by ToBRFV on tomato fruits. See pages 1871–1879 for details.
The goal of this special focus is to shed light on a new research topic on high quality, efficient and precise fertilization of rice. The findings offer valuable guidance and reference for the management of high quality and high efficiency nitrogen fertilizers for rice. The cover image is a combination of the single fertilization technology of controlled release blended fertilizer for machine-transplanted rice. The pictures were provided by the Rice Cultivation Team of Nanjing Agricultural University, China.
Livestock and poultry manure, crop straw and agricultural products processing waste are the main agricultural solid wastes. The resource usage of these wastes through transformation of microorganisms and some insects will be very important to sustainable development of agriculture. However, the factors influencing insect or microorganism conversion processes are still lacking. Therefore, this special focus addresses the dynamics of microbial diversity and changes in bioavailability of heavy metals during the conversion of wastes by microorganisms or insects. Cover photos were provided by Prof. Li Zhaojun (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences) and Prof. Li Rong (Nanjing Agricultural University, China).
The developing world is seeking greater insight, pioneering solutions, and collaboration in addressing extreme poverty. In reaching this goal, the Journal of Integrative Agriculture (JIA) has organized this special issue of “Paths out of Poverty” with a comprehensive review of the developing world in its fight against extreme poverty. Enabling the developing world to share knowledge, learn from experience, and identify opportunities to collaborate with each other as part of the global initiative to achieve the first Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations. This special issue received financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71661147001). The cover image is landscape of Labadi Village, Baohe Town, Weixi Lisu Autonomous County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China provided by Prof. Nie Fengying’s team from the Agricultural Information Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a major agricultural pest widely distributed throughout the Americas, mainly feeding on maize, wheat, rice and other important crops. The insect invaded Africa in 2016 and spread rapidly, posing a major threat to global food security. It invaded China from Myanmar in late 2018 and quickly spread across the country. Molecular identification and genomic studies showed that the invaded fall armyworm to China was of Corn-biotype (C-strain), mainly harming maize, sorghum, sugarcane, wheat, and cotton plants, among which maize and wheat were main food crops in China. The cover photos show the infestation of the fall armyworm on maize and wheat, including the various stages of its larval stage and the spawning state of the adult moth. The four pictures were provided by Academician Wu Kongming from the Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
The goal of this special issue of the Journal of Integrative Agriculture is to provide quantitative analyses for yield and efficiency gaps of major crops in main production regions in China. By using the modeling method and field experiments, researchers find determining factors and underlying mechanisms, and provide effective management strategies for closing these gaps. We hope these studies could provide a theoretical basis and technical support for coordinating the high yield and high resource use efficiency in crops in China and even all over the world. The cover image is a combination of crops and fields with different yield and efficiency levels. The photos were provided by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300100).
Animal infectious diseases cause huge economic losses to the livestock industry, which poses a serious threat to food safety. As one of the main sources of human epidemics, animal diseases also greatly affect human health. Disease-resistant breeding can significantly improve the resistance of animals to disease infection, and is one of the best solutions to the problem of animal infectious diseases and achieve “One Health Initiative”. Genome-editing technology can quickly improve the target traits, which provides an efficient new method for disease resistance breeding. Recently new research shows that pigs with precise editing of the two receptor genes (CD163 and pAPN) that mediate virus infection in pigs are completely resistant to the infection of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), and exhibit decreased susceptibility to porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV). Using genome-editing method to breed disease-resistant pigs is like putting a mask on the pigs, which can effectively prevent virus infection. Long-term breeding and observation experiments, breeding experiments, and slaughter experiments of the National Breeding Testing Center have shown that the reproduction and production performance of double-gene-edited pigs are normal. These pigs will provide important materials for the breeding of new disease-resistant pig breeds. The research also demonstrates the great application value of emerging genome editing technology in animal breeding. The photo was taken by Mr. GE Changli, Shandong Landsee Genetics Co., Ltd., China. See pages 1–3 for more details.
The overall goal of this special focus of the Journal of Integrative Agriculture is to provide empirical evidence of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture and the effectiveness of the coping strategies in China. Several key issues are discussed with an in-depth study on: agricultural production, consumer food purchasing behaviors, agricultural and food marketing and international trade, rural poverty, and policy responses. We hope these studies could provide readers with a better understanding of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers, consumers and traders in China and derive informative experience and lessons for China and the rest of world. The cover image of coronavirus is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Haynaldia villosa (2n=14, VV), a wild grass of the subtribe Triticeae, serves as potential gene resources for wheat genetic improvement. The translocation of wheat-H. villosa 6VS/6AL showed more superiority in plant growth and disease resistance, and significant proteome changes during grain development. Our results demonstrated that the 6VS chromosome of H. villosa carries abundant stress-defensive proteins that have potential values for wheat genetic improvement. The photos were provided by Prof. YAN Yue-ming from Capital Normal University, China. See pages 2628–2642 for more details.
As a lysine acetyltransferase, FgGCN5 in Fusarium graminearum has been functionally characterized in hyphal vegetative growth, asexual and sexual reproduction, deoxynivalenol (DON) biosynthesis and plant infection. However, the roles of the conserved motifs/domains in FgGCN5 are unclear. Here, the four conserved sequence motifs (I–IV) were presented in the catalytic domain, a bromodomain in the carboxy-terminus and a conserved E130 in FgGCN5 were identified and characterized. Each conserved motif in the catalytic domain and E130 are essential for correct functions of the gene. The conserved bromodomain plays important roles in DON production and pathogen virulence. This was the first report to identify the functions of conserved motifs/domains in FgGCN5, which will contribute to our understanding of the mechanism(s) by which FgGCN5 regulates F. graminearum. The photo was provided by Associate Prof. ZHOU Shanyue from Qingdao Agricultural University, China. See pages 2477–2487 for more details.
As the leading source of meat around the world, pig is a favorable model to study the molecular mechanisms for skeletal muscle growth and development. The accomplishment of pig reference genome provided us novel insights into livestock production traits and genomics. The development of multi-omics makes it possible to understand myogenesis mechanisms comprehensively in the post-genome era. Numerous studies revealed that enhancers, a kind of non-coding sequence in the genome, play key roles in transcriptional regulation. We overviewed enhancers’ functions in skeletal muscle development and prospected the future orientation of scientific research in farm animals’ genetics and molecular breeding. A profound overview of enhancer functions along with abundant databases and accurate classification was displayed. We prospected the promising future envision of eRNA in regulating skeletal muscle development. It not only provides new ideas in production traits improvement for future farm animal breeding, but also would be helpful for model research of embryonic development, disease treatment, organ transplantation, personality mood and intent emotion detection in the life science. Learning a good knowledge of the untold story between enhancers and skeletal muscles may promote the study for agriculture and biotechnology to a new great level. The photo was provided by Prof. TANG Zhonglin from Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. See pages 2137–2149 for more details.
Rhododendron fortunei has beautiful flowers with bright colors showing high ornamental value and economic potential in the flower industry. Polyploid plants usually show superiority in growth, disease resistance, and adaption over their diploid relatives. The cover photo shows the seedlings of R. fortunei treated with different concentrations of oryzalin. This illustration was provided by Dr. Lin Erpei from Zhejiang A&F University. See pages 2016–2026 for more details.
Biofumigation is an increasingly viable method for the control of plant-parasitic nematodes (PPNs) and offers an alternative to synthetic nematicides, including methyl bromide. PPNs damage crop yield and quality worldwide, with the financial toll of the pest estimated to be more than US$100 billion annually. The process of biofumigation acts through the growth and incorporation of specific plant material, often sourced from the Brassicaceae family, into the soil, where plants or plant byproducts release nematotoxic isothiocyanates. Cover photo demonstrates one method of biofumigation control of PPNs. In this example, a biofumigant crop is grown to an optimal life stage, macerated to release glucosinolates and myrosinase, and then tilled under to break down and release glucosinolate hydrolysis products. The illustration was provided by Rebecca Brennan from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. See pages 1680–1690 for a review article evaluating research endeavors exploring the utility of biofumigation and seeking to provide a costbenefit assessment of the status of biofumigation for the control of PPNs.