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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 41(8)

Fruit presence negatively affects photosynthesis by reducing leaf nitrogen in almond

Sebastian Saa A C and Patrick H. Brown B

A Facultad de Agronomía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Casilla 4D, Quillota, Chile.
B Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: sebastian.saa@ucv.cl

Functional Plant Biology 41(8) 884-891 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP13343
Submitted: 28 November 2013  Accepted: 19 February 2014   Published: 1 April 2014

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Fruit presence often positively and seldom negatively affects leaf carbon assimilation rate in fruit-trees. In almond (Prunus dulcis (Mill.) DA Webb) the presence of fruit often results in the death of the fruit bearing spurs. The mechanism of this effect is unclear, but may be a consequence of diminished carbon assimilation rate in leaves adjacent to fruit and the subsequent depletion of nutrient and carbohydrates reserves. This study evaluated the influence of fruit on leaf carbon assimilation rate and leaf nitrogen throughout the season. Carbon assimilation rate (Aa), rubisco carboxylation capacity at leaf temperature (Vcmax@Tleaf), maximum rate of RubP regeneration at leaf temperature (Jmax@Tleaf), leaf nitrogen on a mass basis (N%) and area basis (Na), and specific leaf weight data were recorded. Fruit presence negatively affected leaf nitrogen concentration by a reduction in specific leaf weight and leaf nitrogen content. The impact of fruit presence on carbon assimilation rate was predominantly associated with the negative effect of fruit on Na and resulted in a significant reduction in Jmax@Tleaf and therefore in Aa, especially after full leaf and fruit expansion. The reduction in leaf area, leaf nitrogen, reduced Jmax@Tleaf and decreased carbon assimilation rate in the presence of fruit explains the negative effects of fruit presence on spur vitality.

Additional keywords: fruit and leaf competition, nitrogen competition, photosynthesis, specific leaf area, spur mortality, survival.


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