Influence of Pod Stomatal Density and Pod Transpiration on the Calcium Concentration of Snap Bean Pods

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX 77030-2600

Understanding the mechanisms that regulate xylem transport of calcium (Ca) to snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) pods could allow approaches to enhance pod Ca levels, and thereby improve the value of this food source for humans. Pods of greenhouse-grown plants of `Hystyle', `Labrador', `Tendergreen', `Green Crop', `BBL94', and `Gold Crop' were examined for stomatal density and rates of pod transpiration throughout pod development. Among pods ranging from 6 to 14 mm in diameter, Ca concentration and pod stomatal density varied inversely with increasing diameter in all cultivars; Ca concentration for pods of a given diameter also varied among cultivars. To assess the influence of pod stomatal density on pod transpiration, water loss was measured from detached pods of `Hystyle' and `Labrador', which have high and low pod stomatal densities, respectively. Pod transpiration rates were similar for the two cultivars, being ≈15% the rate measured in leaves under equivalent conditions, and comparable to rates of cuticular transpiration measured in leaves with closed stomates. These results suggest that pod stomates have no role, or have only a limited role, in pod transpiration. Pods of `Hystyle' and `Labrador' were placed in enclosures that maintained constant high- or low-humidity environments throughout pod development. For each cultivar, the high-humidity environment led to lower pod Ca concentrations, demonstrating that pod transpiration does have a significant impact on pod Ca accretion. However, `Hystyle' consistently exhibited higher pod Ca concentrations, relative to `Labrador', suggesting that differences in xylem sap Ca concentration may have been responsible for cultivar differences in pod Ca concentration.

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