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. 2014 Oct 15;171(16):1500-9.
doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2014.07.005. Epub 2014 Jul 23.

Increasing Water Stress Negatively Affects Pear Fruit Growth by Reducing First Its Xylem and Then Its Phloem Inflow

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Increasing Water Stress Negatively Affects Pear Fruit Growth by Reducing First Its Xylem and Then Its Phloem Inflow

Brunella Morandi et al. J Plant Physiol. .

Abstract

Drought stress negatively affects many physiological parameters and determines lower yields and fruit size. This paper investigates on the effects of prolonged water restriction on leaf gas exchanges, water relations and fruit growth on a 24-h time-scale in order to understand how different physiological processes interact to each other to face increasing drought stress and affect pear productive performances during the season. The diurnal patterns of tree water relations, leaf gas exchanges, fruit growth, fruit vascular and transpiration flows were monitored at about 50, 95 and 145 days after full bloom (DAFB) on pear trees of the cv. Abbé Fétel, subjected to two irrigation regimes, corresponding to a water restitution of 100% and 25% of the estimated Etc, respectively. Drought stress progressively increased during the season due to lower soil tensions and higher daily vapour pressure deficits (VPDs). Stem water potential was the first parameter to be negatively affected by stress and determined the simultaneous reduction of fruit xylem flow, which at 95 DAFB was reflected by a decrease in fruit daily growth. Leaf photosynthesis was reduced only from 95 DAFB on, but was not immediately reflected by a decrease in fruit phloem flow, which instead was reduced only at 145 DAFB. This work shows how water stress negatively affects pear fruit growth by reducing first its xylem and then its phloem inflow. This determines a progressive increase in the phloem relative contribution to growth, which lead to the typical higher dry matter percentages of stressed fruit.

Keywords: Drought stress; Fruit development; Leaf gas exchanges; Vascular flows; Water potential.

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