Pattern of Exotherm and Electrolyte Leakage Measured at High Frequency of Satsuma Mandarin Exposed to Subfreezing Temperatures

in HortScience

The current study was conducted to relate ice formation to the pattern and rate of leaf and stem injury of Satsuma mandarins on trifoliate orange rootstock. Potted trees were unacclimated, moderately acclimated or fully acclimated by exposing trees to 32/21 °C, 15/7 °C or 10/4 °C, respectively. Freezing treatments consisted of decreasing air temperature at 2 °C·h-1 until ice formed as evidenced by exotherms determined using differential thermal analysis of stems. Air temperature was then decreased, held constant, or increased and held constant to simulate severe, moderate and mild freeze conditions, respectively. All treatment exhibited exotherms at -2 to -4 °C, which were smaller with milder freezing treatments. Only the fully acclimated trees exhibited multiple exotherms. Leaf watersoaking, an indication of ice formation, occurred concurrently with stem exotherms except for fully acclimated trees where there was up to a 30-min delay and which corresponded with the second exotherm. Electrolyte leakage of leaves began to increase near the peak of the stem exotherm, but increased more slowly with milder freezing temperature treatments. In some treatments, electrolyte leakage reached a plateau near 50% but leaves survived. Leaves died when whole-leaf electrolyte leakage exceeded 50%. These data are discussed within the framework of a proposed mechanism of injury of Satsuma mandarin leaves by subfreezing temperatures, especially multiple exotherms of fully acclimated trees, and the plateau of electrolyte leakage of leaves at the critical level for survival.

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