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  • Author or Editor: M.D. Sundberg x
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Floral morphology and differentiation of `Sharpblue' southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) were studied under natural growing conditions. There was no rest period during floral development of `Sharpblue' blueberry in Louisiana. Basal florets were already present within a racemic inflorescence in early September. All floral and reproductive organs were clearly visible in early December. Microspores and pollen grains were observed in mid- and late-January, respectively. Megasporocytes, two-cell, four-cell, and seven-cell embryo sacs were found to be simultaneously present in developing ovules in late January, suggesting that megasporogenesis and megagametogenesis in `Sharpblue' blueberry are asynchronous.

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Five-year old `Sharpblue' southern highbush blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) were self- and cross-pollinated (`O'Neal') to study peroxidase (POD) activity, isozyme patterns, and histological localization during fruit development. Cross-pollination resulted in larger and earlier-ripening fruit. Activities of soluble and bound POD were very high during fruit growth period I, with peaks at 10 and 20 days after self- and cross-pollination. Activity was much higher for cross-pollinated fruit. During fruit growth period II, POD activities were low in both pollination treatments. During ripening, soluble POD increased, then declined in both treatments. Bound POD activities increased during the color transition from blue to dark blue, with the increase greater in self-pollinated fruit. Banding patterns of soluble and bound POD isozymes and their histological localization varied by pollination treatment as well as fruit developmental stage. During fruit ripening, soluble POD activity appeared to be associated with color transition from light blue to blue, while bound POD activity appeared to be associated with color transition from blue to dark blue.

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Ovule abortion occurred between 5 and 10 days after pollination (DAP) in self- and cross-pollinated `Sharpblue' blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fruit. More ovule abortion occurred with self-pollination (35%) than with cross-pollination (22% for `Sharpblue' × `O'Neal' and 29% for `Sharpblue' × `Gulfcoast'), and there were more poorly developed ovules with self-pollination (88.1%) than with cross-pollination (× `O'Neal', 33.6%; × `Gulfcoast' 50.8%). The increase in ovule area correlated exponentially with fruit growth during early developmental stages, regardless of pollination treatment. However, cross-pollination resulted in significantly greater ovule area and fruit mass during early fruit development as well as at ripening. Ovule area was maximum at 25 to 30 DAP for both pollination treatments, followed by exponential fruit growth (stage III). Cross-pollination resulted in greater fruit growth and a shorter stage III. At 10 DAP, ovules from cross-pollination were larger than those from self-pollination, suggesting that cross-pollination initiated ovule growth immediately after fertilization. This research suggests that southern highbush blueberry fruit growth and development is intimately associated with ovule growth and development, which is affected by pollen sources.

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