Floral Meristem Development in Cranberry Apical Buds during Winter Rest and Its Implication on Yield Prediction

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

The formation and development of floral meristems is key to fruit production. However, limited information regarding the development of floral buds during the dormant period of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) constrains the ability to forecast yield early and accurately. The objectives of this study were to characterize the development of floral meristems from fall to spring and to evaluate the number of floral meristems formed across different bud sizes and upright types, as well as their contribution to the fruit production of the next year. Apical buds of different sizes on vegetative and fruiting uprights were tagged and collected periodically from fall to spring for histological study. An extra set of tagged buds was left in the field to evaluate their flower and fruit production. Five stages of floral development were identified based on the concentric differentiation of organ primordia. Large buds from vegetative uprights developed earlier, had a higher number of floral meristems, and became fruiting uprights; they had the highest number of flowers and fruit. Buds from fruiting uprights had the lowest number of floral meristems and delayed development; subsequently, they had the lowest number of fruit per upright. Our results provide evidence of active floral meristem differentiation during fall and winter, as well as differences in the timing and development stage according to bud size. In addition, our study shows that upright types and bud sizes influence the fruit production of the following year; therefore, they should be considered in cranberry crop forecasting models.

Contributor Notes

We thank Dr. Sara E. Patterson for technical assistance with the histology work; Maria Kamenetsky from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (UW CALS) Statistical Consulting Group for assistance with the data analysis; Cranberry Creek Cranberries Inc. for allowing us to collect data and plant material from their farm; and the Wisconsin Cranberry Board and Cranberry Institute for their financial support.

Research Associate.

Graduate Student.

Researcher.

Assistant Professor.

Corresponding author. E-mail: atucha@wisc.edu.

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Article Figures

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    Representation of cranberry plant material used and evaluations performed in 2015 (year 1) and 2016 (year 2), as well as sample collection and evaluation times, crop status, and type of analysis performed. Vegetative (V) and fruiting (F) uprights were tagged in the field according to the corresponding bud width sizes studied: large (L; >1.0 mm); medium (M; 0.6–1.0 mm); and small (S; ≤0.5 mm). No large buds were found on fruiting uprights (FL), represented by the “X” symbol. Histological analysis was performed for buds collected from T0 (year 1, early fall) to T4 (year 2, late spring). Phenotypical evaluations were performed at T5 (year 2, early fall) for current uprights grown from buds tagged in the field at T0.

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    Average number of floral meristems per bud from T0 (year 1, early fall) to T4 (year 2, late spring) for cranberry. Black lines correspond to buds on vegetative uprights (V), and gray lines correspond to fruiting uprights (F). Circles (•) represent large buds (L; >1.0 mm), squares (▪) represent medium buds (M; 0.6–1.0 mm), and triangles (▲) represent small buds (S; ≤0.5 mm). Error bars represent the se (n = 5).

  • View in gallery

    Developmental stages of the floral meristems of the cranberry terminal bud. Examples depicted here are cross-sections from reproductive buds sampled at T0 (year 1, early fall). (A) Overview of the entire bud. Bud scales (bs) protect the bracts (b), floral meristems (fm), and the embryonic shoot (es). (B–F) Cross-sections of floral meristems at different stages of development. Floral meristems differentiate concentrically. (B) Stage 1: Floral meristem seen as a globular structure protected by one internal bud scale (bs) and two lateral bracts (b). (C) Stage 2: Four sepal primordia (s) differentiate on each side of the meristem. (D) Stage 3: Four petal primordia (p) differentiate, giving a square appearance to the floral meristem. (E) Stage 4: Eight anther primordia and the androecium (a) surround the center of the meristem. (F) Stage 5: All primordia have differentiated, including the gynoecium (g). Scale bars: (A) = 500 μm; (B–F) = 100 μm.

  • View in gallery

    Average developmental stage of floral meristems per bud from T0 (year 1, early fall) to T4 (year 2, late spring) for cranberry. Black lines correspond to buds on vegetative uprights (V), and gray dashed lines correspond to fruiting uprights (F). Circles (•) represent large buds (L; >1.0 mm), squares (▪) represent medium buds (M; 0.6–1.0 mm), and triangles (▲) represent small buds (S; ≤0.5 mm). Error bars represent the se (n = 5).

  • View in gallery

    Percentage of vegetative and fruiting cranberry uprights at T5 (year 2, early fall) that grew from buds tagged at T0 (year 1, early fall). T0 buds were categorized by the current upright status [vegetative (V) or fruiting (F)] and bud width size: large (L; >1.0 mm), medium (M; 0.6–1.0 mm), and small (S; ≤0.5 mm). Areas of bars correspond to the percentages of the resulting vegetative (black) and fruiting (white) uprights (VL, n = 11; VM, n = 10; VS, n = 13; FM, n = 12; FS, n = 13).

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    Average number of flowers and berries on cranberry fruiting uprights at T5 (year 2, early fall) produced from buds tagged at T0 (year 1, early fall). T0 buds were categorized by the current upright status [vegetative (V) or fruiting (F)] and bud width size: large (L; >1.0 mm), medium (M; 0.6–1.0 mm), and small (S; ≤0.5 mm). White bars correspond to the number of flowers per upright that reached anthesis (identified by pedicels ranging from those with a flower that did not result in a developed fruit to those with attached harvestable fruit). Solid bars correspond to attached harvestable fruit. Error bars represent the se (VL, n = 11; VM, n = 10; VS, n = 11; FM, n = 10; FS, n = 5).

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