Occurrence of Sugar Alcohols Determines Boron Toxicity Symptoms of Ornamental Species

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Pomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
  • | 2 University Arboretum, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

The phloem mobility of boron (B) in plants varies dramatically among species. Variations in phloem B mobility occur as a consequence of the presence of sugar alcohols (polyols) in some species but not in others, and these differences in phloem B mobility profoundly affect the expression of B toxicity symptoms. Twenty-four species including common ornamental species varying in sugar alcohol content, were selected to test their response to B toxicity. Species that do not produce sugar alcohols exhibited previously described B toxicity symptoms that include accumulation of high concentrations of B in, and burning of, the tip and margin of old leaves. In the sugar-alcohol-producing species these symptoms were absent, and B toxicity was expressed as meristematic dieback and an accumulation of B in apical tissues. These symptoms have not previously been associated with B toxicity in these species and hence may have been frequently misdiagnosed.

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