Control of scion vigour by kiwifruit rootstocks is correlated with spring root pressure phenology

J Exp Bot. 2007;58(7):1741-51. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erm029. Epub 2007 Apr 2.


Root pressure was measured continuously over spring in eight clonal kiwifruit rootstocks selected from seven Actinidia species (A. chrysantha, A. deliciosa, A. eriantha, A. hemsleyana, A. kolomikta, A. macrosperma, A. polygama), using pressure transducers and miniature compression fittings. Rootstocks that promoted scion vigour developed root pressures up to 0.15 MPa before or during scion budburst, whereas those that reduced scion vigour developed root pressure up to 0.05 MPa only after scion shoot expansion. When several seasons were compared, the date of onset of root pressure and the magnitude of pressure achieved were consistent for each rootstock. Root pressure was first recorded between late July and early September in vigour-promoting rootstocks, while scion budburst and initial shoot growth were in late August and early September. Vigour-reducing rootstocks did not develop significant root pressure until October. The date of onset was similar for the grafted rootstock and ungrafted plant of the same clone, but was not clearly related to the timing of shoot growth by the ungrafted plant. In the grafted plants the leaf and xylem water potentials of the scion were more negative, midday turgor was 0.3-0.5 MPa lower, and wilting was sometimes observed in developing shoots growing on low-vigour rootstocks, indicating that water stress was contributing to reductions in growth. Leaf turgor was correlated with average root pressure but not pressure measured during the day, suggesting that root pressure was not supporting transpiration during peak flows and was, instead, indicative of higher root hydraulic conductance. The rapid temporal rise in root pressure observed each spring in the various rootstocks was not accompanied by changes in xylem sap solute potential, but when rootstock clones were compared those that developed higher root pressures had higher sap solute potentials. Xylem sap solute potential varied between rootstocks from -0.07 MPa to -0.15 MPa, while root pressures measured at the same time varied between 0.0 MPa and 0.09 MPa, suggesting that an osmotic mechanism could account for the observed root pressure. Differences in phenology between the rootstocks and scion appeared to account for the rootstock effects on shoot growth, and changes in root pressure provided a useful indication of seasonal changes in root hydraulic properties and solute transport behaviour.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinidia / growth & development*
  • Actinidia / metabolism
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Pressure
  • Seasons*
  • Species Specificity
  • Water / metabolism
  • Xylem / metabolism


  • Water