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  • Author or Editor: Guglielmo Costa x
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Experiments on root restriction effect were carried out on micropropagated peach rootstock (GF677) plants grown in pots with different volume (1350 and 270 ml).

Root restriction reduced plant growth expressed as shoot length, FW and DW accumulation and leaf area. Application of a triazole (BAS 111, GA biosynthesis inhibitor) or TIBA (inhibitor of auxin polar transport) also reduced plant growth as compared to root restriction.

Pn measured on expanded leaves developed during the time-course experiment showed to be affected by root restriction. In fact the assimilation rate exhibited by plants grown in 270 ml volume pots remained at lower level at least at the lower light intensities. TIBA treatment dramatically reduced the assimilation rate at all the light intensities tested, while BAS111 did not induced evident differences as compared to the control plants. The stomata density per leaf doubled in the plants grown in 1350 ml pots as compared to that of plants in the 270 ml pots.

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Experiments were carried out for 3 years on `Gala' and `Fuji' apple cultivars. The efficacy of the compounds applied during blooming (ATS, Armothin) and at 10 mm king fruit diameter (BA, CPPU, and NAA) was studied. Results showed a poor efficacy of the chemicals applied during bloom, while compounds applied at fruit set showed interesting results. Among the new chemicals, citokinins were the most effective, although their effects were related to the cultivar: BA performs better than CPPU on `Fuji' while vice versa on `Gala'. In addition, both chemicals induced a slightly higher °Brix content, and acidity level showed the tendency to increase L/D ratio of the fruits as compared to controls. Fruit thinning and the strategies to enhance fruit size are applied early in the season and the problem remains, to assess their effectiveness as early as possible in order to adapt the management techniques (e.g., further thinning, if applicable, or fine-tuning of nutrition and irrigation, etc.) to enable the fruit to reach their maximum potential development. A modelling approach proposed by Lakso et al. (1995) postulates that apples grow in weight according to an equation termed “expolinear” (Goudriaan and Monteith, 1990) because after an initial phase of exponential growth (cell division), the apple enters a phase of linear growth (cell expansion) lasting up to harvest. The effectiveness of a thinning agent can therefore be evaluated-and explained-in terms either of the number of cells of the cortex tissue, or of their volume, or both. In addition, assessing the slope of the linear phase as early as possible might provide a prediction tool to evaluate size at harvest. This paper presents data from apple thinning trials on several cultivars. The effectiveness of these applications has been evaluated via an analysis of the cell parameters (number, volume and intercellular spaces) of the fruit's parenchyma cortex tissue. Also, fruit growth data have been used to test the possibility to predict fruit size at harvest once the fruit reaches the phase of linear growth.

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The efficacy of Prohexadione-Ca on vegetative and reproductive parameters was tested for 3 years on three apple cultivars (Golden Delicious, Braeburn, and Fuji) at concentrations ranging from 125 up to 350 ppm. The Prohexadione-ca was applied after shoots reached 5 cm length, for 1 month. In all cases, Prohexadione-Ca reduced shoot growth, showed the tendency to increase fruit size and to enhance return bloom. In addition, it increased leaf coloration and higher chlorophyll content, and it induced higher photosynthetic efficiency than the control. The relationships among shoot reduction, chlorophyll content and photosynthetic efficiency are discussed.

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One- and three-node nectarine explants were compared with intact potted units of similar dimension. The explants and intact plants performed similarly as judged by rate of leaf photosynthesis, leaf and fruit respiration, and changes in fresh and dry weights. Water loss and transpiration were less in explants than intact plants after 24 h. Explants with fruit of nectarine, olive, and prune were used to evaluate uptake and distribution of 14C-labeled paclobutrazol (PBZ), daminozide, and sucrose in plant parts. These comparisons reveal that the explant system is useful for primary testing of hypotheses, screening of chemicals, and evaluating species response for later testing of selected parameters in the field. Three-node explants containing fruit are reliable for experiments lasting up to 4 days. Chemical names used: succinic acid 2,2 dimethylhydrazide [daminozide (SADH)]; β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol [paclobutrazol (PBZ)].

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Containerized peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.] seedlings were grown in the greenhouse at three water levels [25%, and 100% field capacity (FC)] with experiments duplicated in Bologna, Italy and Davis, Calif. One group of the seedlings was treated with 0.1 g active ingredient (a.i.) paclobutrazol (PBZ) applied as a soil drench, whereas the second group received water only. Addition of PBZ suppressed shoot growth and leaf area more than reduced water content alone. PBZ reduced root fresh and dry weights and total water consumption. At 0600 and 1200 hr, PBZ increased stomatal conductance at 100% FC; later that same day stomatal conductance decreased. At 50% and 25% FC, PBZ decreased stomatal conductance compared to controls at all times measured. Chemical name used: (2RS, 3RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)pentan-3-ol (paclobutrazol).

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`Redhaven' peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) fruit abscission has been investigated using scanning electron microscopy, computer-assisted video-image analysis, and confocal laser scanning microscopy in conjunction with chlorotetracycline and ethidium bromide as fluorescent probes for membrane Ca2+ and nuclear DNA. This enabled us to document the morphological changes of the cells, distribution patterns of membrane Ca2+ in the constituent cells of the abscission zone, and the nuclear morphology with accompanying changes in nuclear DNA. The digitized images of CTC-fluorescence emissions revealed that the membrane Ca2+ levels in the pre-abscission zone (control) is uniform and similar to that present in the cells of the spongy proximal region of the peduncle and that of the fruit parenchyma. However, with the induction of abscission, 2 days after embryoctomy, there was a significant increase in membrane Ca2+ in the cells of the abscission zone compared to the neighboring cells of the fruit and the peduncle. Thereafter, with the gradual separation of the cells and the concomitant vacuolation, the membrane Ca2+ level decreased substantially. Confocal imaging of EB labeled cells of the abscission zone before induction invariably revealed a well-organized nucleus. However, during cell separation, significant changes in the cellular and nuclear morphology occured, including 1) rounding of cells, 2) reduction in the nuclear volume, and 3) concomitant fragmentation of nuclear DNA. The possible role of Ca2+ during the process of peach fruit abscission and nuclear DNA fragmentation leading to cell death is discussed. Chemical names used: chlorotetracycline (CTC), ethidium bromide (EB).

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Prohexadione-Ca (Apogee®) was tested as a growth retardant and fire-blight control agent in the pear (Pyrus communis L. cv. Abbé Fétel) on both bearing trees in the orchard and on 1-year-old scions under greenhouse conditions. Four sprays of 50 and 100 mg·L-1 of the chemical were applied to trees in the orchard at 2-week intervals starting at petal fall, when terminal growth was 4 cm (mid-April). Scions received a single application (250 mg·L-1) and were transferred 2 weeks later to a greenhouse where the shoots were inoculated with a local, virulent strain of Erwinia amylovora (Burrill) Winslow et al. In the orchard, the higher prohexadione-Ca concentration was more effective in reducing shoot growth, enhancing fruit weight and controlling fire blight incidence and severity. Similar effects on growth parameters and disease progression were observed under greenhouse conditions. Chemical name used: calcium 3-oxido-4-propionyl-5-oxo-3-cyclohexene carboxylate (prohexadione-Ca)

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