To be useful for indicating plant water needs, any measure of plant stress should be closely related to some of the known short- and medium-term plant stress responses, such as stomatal closure and reduced rates of expansive growth. Midday stem water potential (SWP) has proven to be a useful index of stress in a number of fruit trees. Day-to-day fluctuations in SWP under well-irrigated conditions is well-correlated to midday vapor pressure deficit, and hence can be used to predict a non-stressed baseline. Measurement of SWP helped to explain the results of a 3-year deficit irrigation study in mature prunes, which showed that deficit irrigation could have either positive or negative impacts on tree productivity, depending on soil conditions. Mild to moderate water stress was economically beneficial. In cherry, SWP was correlated to both leaf stomatal conductance and rates of shoot growth, with shoot growth essentially stopping once SWP dropped to between –1.5 to –1.7 MPa. In pear, increased fruit size, decreased fruit soluble solids, and increased green color were all associated with increases in SWP.
Kenneth A. Shackel
Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez and Kenneth Shackel
Tomato fruits showed diurnal fluctuations in size in addition to long-term irreversible enlargement. Diurnal fluctuations were highly related to the stage of fruit development. In all stages, the maximum relative growth rate occurred in the morning and the minimum RGR at midday. Midday depression of RGR became more severe as fruits developed. In young fruits, RGR was nearly constant over the day. A small depression in growth was observed only at midday. In more developed fruits, RGR was positive during the first half of the day, followed by near zero values in the afternoon, and a. recovery in early night. In mature fruits, overall fruit growth was minimum and RGR was positive only in the morning. Fruit shrinkage was often seen at midday in mature fruits.
Rémy E. Milad and Kenneth A. Shackel
Irrigation of previously water-stressed French prune trees is known to induce fruit end cracking. The relationships between end cracking, water relations, and mechanical properties of the skin of French prune were studied as a function of irrigation regimes under field conditions. Water stress resulted in the accumulation of solutes in the fruit of nonirrigated trees. A gradient in osmotic potential (ΨS) existed along the vertical axis of fruit from all treatments; ΨS was always lower at the stylar than stem end. Irrigation of previously water-stressed trees (irrigated-dry treatment) resulted in ΨS gradients exceeding those of all other treatments. Moreover, estimated turgor (ΨP) at the stylar end of the fruit increased 2-fold within 24 hours after irrigation. These changes were accompanied by the onset of fruit end cracking, and neither the well-watered controls nor the continuously droughted fruit exhibited such changes. During the 24 hours following irrigation, the overall ΨS of irrigated-dry treatment fruit was diluted by the same amount as the calculated increase in fruit volume. However, during the same period, ΨS at the stem end of the fruit showed more dilution than expected, and ΨS at the stylar end of the fruit concentrated, indicating a redistribution of solutes. There were no differences in skin mechanical properties along the fruit vertical axis and, hence, this could not have accounted for the observed changes in ΨS and ΨP. Thus, when previously stressed French prune trees were irrigated, the overall recovery in water potential (Ψ) and the subsequent movement of solutes to the stylar end of the fruit resulted in apparently excessive turgors in this region and hence the observed pattern of end cracking.
Bruce D. Lampinen and Kenneth A. Shackel
Two levels of deficit irrigation were applied to mature French prune trees based on gradually declining midday stem water potentials decreasing to –1.5 MPa (moderate stress) and –2.5 MPa (severe stress) by harvest. The moderate and severe stress treatments resulted in 32% and 51% water savings, respectively, compared to the fully irrigated control. The average photosynthetic rate and dry fruit yield for the moderate stress treatment were not significantly lower than those for the fully irrigated control. The severe stress treatment had significantly lower photosynthetic rates from late morning until sunset on most days. However, this lower photosynthetic rate did not result in significantly lower dry fruit yields. There were no significant differences in light interception as measured diurnally or over the course of the season in the first year of the study. However, light interception and photosynthetic differences might be expected to be more pronounced in subsequent years, due to carryover effects.
Sunitha H. Gurusinghe and Kenneth A. Shackel
Commercial harvesting of almonds [Prunus dulcis (Mill.) Webb.] with mechanical shakers is economical, but may also cause severe damage to the cambial zone, leading to the establishment of a deadly cankerous disease, ceratocystis. Irrigation is often cut off for some period of time before harvest, anticipating a reduction in the damage as a result of an increased strength of adhesion within the cambial zone between the bark and the wood. Mechanical failure can occur in the cambial zone proper and in the differentiating cells on either side of the cambial zone. In this study the shear force per shear area in the cambial zone (cambial strength) was measured to represent mechanical failure due to shaker damage. Cambial strength of branches with intact bark tissues could be reversibly influenced by the level of tissue hydration, with high cambial strength associated with increased tissue hydration, presumably a result of an increase in the turgor of cambial zone cells. Methods of measuring cambial strength were developed for branches and trunks to avoid the effects of reversible turgor changes. Irrigation regimes imposed before harvest had a substantial and progressive influence on tree stem water potential, stomatal conductance, and growth rate of almond trees. Statistically significant levels of within seasonal differences in rate of growth, stomatal conductance and tree water deficits found under different irrigation regimes did not show any correlation with the within seasonal fluctuations in cambial strength. Cambial strength always showed a similar pattern and a similar magnitude of seasonal increase from spring to summer (as previous authors have reported), superimposed over the within seasonal fluctuations, despite significant differences in tree water stress. Therefore, this study suggests that irrigation cut off may be an ineffective practice for the purpose of increasing cambial strength.
Sunitha H. Gurusinghe and Kenneth A. Shackel
Mechanized shaker harvesting of large acreages of almond [Prunus dulcis (Mill.) Webb.] trees leads to economical use of labor, general cost reduction, and speed of harvest. However, shaking can separate the bark (all tissues external to the vascular cambium) from the wood (all tissues internal to the vascular cambium) and exposes the vascular cambial zone to infection by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata Ell. & Halst. leading to mallet wound canker and loss of productivity. Treatment of ethephon caused a significant increase in the cambial strength of both branches and trunks, presumably by ethylene-induced anatomical and biochemical changes in the cambial zone. An increase in the ratio of total tangential area of the groups of ray initials to fusiform initials and the thickness of ray initial cell walls was observed as a response to ethephon treatment. Spraying an ethephon solution (500 μl-liter-1) to the runoff point on almond trunks caused significant increases in the cambial strength; ethephon, therefore, may be useful in reducing bark injury during shaker harvesting.
Juan C. Díaz, Kenneth Shackel, and Ellen Sutter
The contribution of in vitro-formed roots to the water status of tissue culture plants was studied by observing the stomatal responses of rooted and unrooted apple shoots. Stomatal conductance was measured on whole plants with a modified steady state porometer in a temperature-controlled room. The porometer was maintained at a steady 90% RH and conductance was measured every 30 seconds. Plants were kept in the gas exchange system for about 28 h. Steady state values of stomatal conductance for rooted and unrooted shoots were 220 (S.E= 19) and 163 (S.E=23) mmol m-2 s-1, respectively. When the plants were exposed to a light stimulus (1200 μmol m-2 s-1), rooted shoots showed an increase of about 64% in stomatal conductance. In the absence of roots, no response to light was observed. These results suggest that the presence of the roots improved, at least partially, water uptake and plant water status.
Rémy E Milad and Kenneth A Shackel
End cracking of French prune fruits occurs when previously water stressed trees are irrigated during early July. Fruit phloem, xylem and transpiration flows (P, X and T, respectively) were measured diurnally during 72 h periods in mid June, early July and mid July (before, during and after the crack-susceptible period). Midway through each 72 h period, the previously stressed trees were irrigated. In mid June, X was larger than P, whereas P was larger than X during early July. In mid July, P and X were similar. In early July, the period preceding irrigation was characterized by an ourflow of phloem sap during the day and phloem inflow during the night. After irrigation, larger phloem inflows were observed and no phloem outflow occurred. Fruit transpiration rates were highly correlated with VPD. They exhibited a gradual decrease during the season, reaching minimum values during early July, before increasing again. The sum of P and X was virtually identical for the three periods i.e. stronger P's compensated for weaker X's and vice versa. Our results suggest that properties intrinsic to the fruit play the primary role in modulating water and photosynthate movements between the tree and the fruit. The possible role of these properties on fruit growth and cracking will be examined.
Juan C Díaz, Kenneth Shackel, and Ellen Sutter
Apple plantlets were cultured in a MS medium with agar and transplanted to a soilless mix. Before transplanting, plantlets were acclimatized in a chamber where humidity was linearly decreased from 99% to 75% (21 C) over a period of four days. Gas exchange measurements were made at 95% RH (21 C) and at an irradiance of 350 μmol m-2 s-1. Leaf conductance (g1) was measured with a porometer and net photosynthesis (Pn) with an IRGA. At the end of the gas exchange measurements, shoot relative water content (RWC) was determined. The results showed that plant water status was an important factor for plant survival and growth after transplanting. Acclimatization before transplanting allowed the plant to maintain a higher RWC, probably because of a better stomatal control of transpiration. Such higher water status was associated with higher growth rates in acclimatized than in non-acclimatized plants. There was a positive correlation of RWC with both a and Pn. Transplanted plants had higher values of g1 and Pn compared to in vitro plantlets. Photosynthesis of in vitro plantlets was limited by both stomatal and nonstomatal factors.
Juan C. Díaz-Pérez, Kenneth A. Shackel, and Ellen G. Sutter
Little is known about the physiological changes that occur during acclimatization and how these changes influence plant survival and growth in the new environment. In particular, it is unclear to what extent in vitro-formed roots are functional in water uptake, particularly when the plantlet is exposed to conditions of increasing evaporative demand. Tissue-cultured shoots and plantlets (shoots with roots) were acclimatized by exposing them to a linear reduction in relative humidity (RH) from 99 % to 75%over 4 days. When conductance was measured at 95% RH (21 C), in vitro shoots and plantlets showed a very high initial conductance, followed by a gradual decline, reaching steady state in 12 hours. Acclimatized shoots and plantlets had a 50% lower initial conductance compared to nonacclimatized ones, and reached steady state in 4 hours. The reduction in conductance as a result of acclimatization most likely contributes to a reduced transpiration under conditions of increased evaporative demand. Roots formed in vitro were associated with a higher plant water status, suggesting that these roots were functional in water uptake. Relative water content of the shoot was positively correlated with leaf conductance and net photosynthesis. We suggest that tissue-cultured plantlets behave as hydraulically integrated units, in which there must be a coordination between control of water loss by the shoot and uptake of water by the root to maintain a favorable plant water balance. Our results also indicate that methods that use excised shoots or leaves to determine transpiration gravimetrically may not accurately represent the stomatal water loss characteristics of tissue-cultured plants.