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Katrin Kahlen and Hartmut Stützel

The objective of this study was to estimate geometric attributes and masses of individual cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) organs in situ. Using three-dimensional (3D) digitizing techniques, geometric data were obtained that were used to establish allometric relationships between geometric organ attribute and organ mass. Moreover, the authors were looking for the effects of ontogeny and the influence of environmental factors on the allometric relationships in cucumber. If such an allometric relationship did not exist, they alternatively tested the relationship between organ dry weight and organ number counted from the top of the plant downward. Lastly, they included allometric relationships based on biomechanical approaches focused on lamina mass and petiole attributes. The digitizing method provided accurate data for the calculation of geometric plant part attributes, such as length, area, and volume. Based on these data it was possible to describe the relationships between plant part dry weight and plant part geometry by allometric functions except for internode length. Apart from this exception, two different kinds of allometric equations were used: a simple power function with two parameters and a linear function without intercept. Information about more than one dimension of the considered plant part (e.g., area or volume) led to a simple linear relationship, whereas knowledge of just one dimension, like plant part length, resulted in more complex nonlinear relationships. Ontogeny led, in general, to a reduction in the scaling exponent or in the scaling factor, whereas changes of the environment distributed these values. Considering these effects makes it possible to determine dry matter partitioning on organ scale nondestructively and investigate long-term processes on intact plants.

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Maria Victoria Cremona, Hartmut Stützel, and Henning Kage

Two-year field experiments were carried out to evaluate the suitability of crop water stress index (CWSI) as a basis for irrigation scheduling of kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. gongylodes) by comparison with irrigation scheduling based on total soil water content (SWC). In the first year, irrigation scheduling when CWSI exceeded 0.3 resulted in more frequent water applications, but the total amount of irrigation water given was lower compared to irrigation when SWC fell below 70%. Kohlrabi tuber fresh weight at harvest was similar in both scheduling treatments, leading to 25% higher irrigation water use efficiency in the CWSI-scheduled plots. In the second year, three threshold levels, i.e., 0.2 and 80%, 0.4 and 60%, and 0.6 and 40% of CWSI and SWC, respectively, were investigated. At the level of highest water supply (CWSI = 0.2 and SWC = 80%), the total amount of water supplied was less in the CWSI but the number of irrigations was higher than in the SWC plots. The CWSI-based approach may be a method for irrigation scheduling of vegetables under temperate conditions. The higher irrigation frequency required would make this method particularly suitable in combination with irrigation system that allow frequent applications, i.e., in drip irrigation. To improve the method, a coupling with a soil water balance model seems promising.

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Ralf Uptmoor, Mildred Osei-Kwarteng, Susanne Gürtler, and Hartmut Stützel

The combination of quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis and ecophysiological modeling has been suggested as an approach to reveal the genetic basis of complex traits since phenotypes change with time and environmental conditions and the variation within populations can be described by genotype-specific parameterization of response curves on time and influential environmental factors. The objectives of the present study are a genotype-specific parameterization of a model describing leaf area development under well-watered and drought stress conditions, the use of QTL for estimating model input parameters, an evaluation of the model, and a comparison of the genotype-specific and QTL-based model parameterization. We used a two-phase linear function to describe preflowering leaf area development in a Brassica oleracea L. doubled haploid population. To illustrate effects of drought on leaf growth, the function was combined with a plateau function, which estimates the soil water status at which stress effects begin to reduce leaf expansion, a genotype-specific slope of the response to soil water status, and the soil water status at which leaf expansion becomes zero. A total number of 14 QTL were detected on the parameters of the two-phase linear function describing preflowering leaf area development and the plateau function describing the effects of drought on leaf area development. Nine of these QTL colocalized to QTL detected on data of static leaf area measurements and osmotic adjustment. The entire model was able to distinguish between genotypes during later growth stages under well-watered and drought stress conditions. However, the predictability was largely reduced when drought stress became more severe at the final measurement dates. Independent evaluation trials showed that the accuracy of the model was on the same level or even higher when genotype specific input parameters were replaced by allele-specific QTL effects.