Carbohydrate Contribution to Fruit Development in Two Phenologically Distinct Rabbiteye Blueberry Cultivars

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) cultivars differ in timing of floral and vegetative budbreak and in final fruit size. For example, `Bonita' exhibits concomitant floral and vegetative budbreak and has relatively large fruit size, while floral budbreak precedes vegetative budbreak in `Climax' and fruit size is smaller. Mobilization of carbohydrate before and during fruit development in `Bonita' and `Climax' rabbiteye blueberries was examined to determine if differences in carbohydrate availability between these two cultivars were correlated with differences in fruit size. Root dry mass (DM) of both cultivars decreased from dormancy (31 days before anthesis) through fruit development. Sugar concentrations in roots and stems of both cultivars decreased significantly between dormancy and anthesis, then remained relatively steady throughout fruit development. Starch concentrations in roots and stems of `Bonita' decreased significantly between dormancy and anthesis. The extent of total starch depletion in `Climax' was similar; however, the decrease was more gradual, extending from dormancy to 28 days after anthesis (DAA); at which time, vegetative budbreak in `Climax' occurred. Thus, although total reserve carbohydrate pool sizes were similar between the two cultivars, remobilization patterns were different, resulting in increased starch mobilization in `Bonita' compared to `Climax' in the period leading up to anthesis. Concentration of 14C from reserve carbon sources was similar in flowers of both cultivars at anthesis. These values declined throughout fruit development as a result of dilution of the labeled carbon by unlabeled carbon from current photosynthesis. There was a sharper decline in 14C concentration of `Bonita' fruit compared to `Climax' fruit between anthesis and 51 DAA. This, coupled with differences in timing of vegetative budbreak between the two cultivars, suggests that `Bonita' fruit were accessing current (unlabeled) assimilate earlier (i.e., before 51 DAA) than `Climax' fruit. Smaller fruit size in `Climax' compared to `Bonita' may be a consequence of a decrease in reserve carbohydrate mobilization to `Climax' flower buds before anthesis relative to `Bonita', as well as a delay or reduction in the availability of current carbohydrates to developing `Climax' fruit between anthesis and 51 DAA.

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