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  • Author or Editor: Diane Rowland x
  • HortScience x
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Primed acclimation (PA) is a regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) strategy designed to improve or maintain yield under subsequent drought stress. A previous study showed photosynthetic increases in papaya in response to a PA treatment. The present study was undertaken to test the duration of the PA effect when papaya plants were challenged with severe drought stress. Potted plants were stressed at 1, 2, and 3 months after conclusion of a PA treatment consisting of 3 weeks at soil water tension (SWT) of −20 kPa. Measurements included leaf gas exchange, root growth, and organ dry mass partitioning. PA did not reduce net CO2 assimilation (A) during the deficit period. At the end of the PA period, total dry matter accumulation per plant and for each organ was unaffected, but proportional dry matter partitioning to roots was favored. After resuming full irrigation, A increased and whole plant water use was more than doubled in PA-treated plants. However, water use and A of PA-treated plants decreased to reconverge with those of control plants by 6 weeks after the PA treatment. Over the course of the study, PA plants maintained lower stem height to stem diameter ratios, and shorter internode lengths. However, these changes did not improve photosynthetic response to any of the water-deficit treatments. We conclude that papaya exhibits some signs of stress memory, but that rapid short-term acclimation responses dominate papaya responses to soil water deficit.

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