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Steven J. McArtney and Shao-Hua Li

`Braeburn' apple trees were treated with GA3 or GA7 at either 100, 200, or 400 mg·L-1, 2 years after being grafted onto 4-year-old `Royal Gala'/MM.106 trees in order to evaluate their effects on flower bud formation. Inhibition of flowering was observed on 1-year wood only and not on spurs in response to GA treatments applied later than 6 weeks after bloom. GA7 was a more potent inhibitor of flowering than GA3. These results indicate that GA treatments may provide a useful technology for the selective removal of flowers from 1-year wood in apple and may also provide a useful tool for overcoming biennial bearing in apple by inhibiting flower bud formation when applied in the light-cropping year of the biennial cycle.

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Steven J. McArtney and Li Shao Hua

A single spray of either GA3 or GA4+7 at full bloom reduced the severity of the alternate bearing cycle of `Braeburn' apples, measured as the proportion of flowering spurs over the 2 years following treatment. Increasing the concentration of GA3 applied in the light-flowering year linearly reduced the proportion of flowering spurs in the following year and linearly increased the proportion of flowering spurs 2 years after treatment. Application of GA3 or GA4+7 at full bloom inhibited flower bud formation on spurs only, whereas, in a separate experiment, GA3 or GA7 applied later than 8 weeks after bloom inhibited flower bud formation on 1-year wood only. Thus, delayed GA treatments may provide suitable technology for the selective removal of fruit from 1-year wood in apple.

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Jun Ying Zhao, Li Jun Wang, Pei Ge Fan, Zhan Wu Dai, and Shao Hua Li

Half or whole root systems of micropropagated `Gala' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) plants were subjected to drought stress by regulating the osmotic potential of the nutrient solution using polyethylene glycol (20% w/v) to investigate the effect of root drying on NO3- content and metabolism in roots and leaves and on leaf photosynthesis. No significant difference in predawn leaf water potential was found between half root stress (HRS) and control (CK), while predawn leaf water potential from both was significantly higher than for the whole root stress (WRS) treatment. However, diurnal leaf water potential of HRS was lower than CK and higher than WRS during most of the daytime. Neither HRS nor WRS influenced foliar NO3- concentration, but both significantly reduced NO3- concentration in drought-stressed roots as early as 4 hours after stress treatment started. This reduced NO3- concentration was maintained in HRS and WRS roots to the end of the experiment. However, there were no significant differences in NO3- concerntation between CK roots and unstressed roots of HRS. Similar to the effect on root NO3- concentration, both HRS and WRS reduced nitrate reductase activity in drought-stressed roots. Moreover, leaf net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate of HRS plants were reduced significantly throughout the experiment when compared with CK plants, but the values were higher than those of WRS plants in the first 7 days of stress treatment though not at later times. Net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate were correlated to root NO3- concentration. This correlation may simply reflect the fact that water stress affected both NO3- concentration in roots and leaf gas exchange in the same direction.

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Ben-Hong Wu, Ning Niu, Ji-Hu Li, and Shao-Hua Li

The most obvious effects of a low leaf:fruit (LF) ratio [two leaves for one cluster per shoot (LF2)] on grape (Vitis vinifera) berries are suppressed anthocyanin biosynthesis in the berry skin, decreased berry weight and soluble solids concentration, and increased titratable acidity. In this study, proteins isolated from berry skins grown under low and high LF ratio conditions, LF2 and LF12, respectively, were characterized by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry. A survey of ≈600 to 700 spots from berry skin yielded 77 proteins with differential expression between LF12 and LF2 treatments. Of these, the 59 proteins that were identified consisted of 47 proteins that were down-regulated and 12 that were up-regulated under LF2 conditions compared with LF12 conditions. Most proteins involved in metabolism, energy, transcription, protein synthesis, binding function, signal transduction, and cell defense were down-regulated in LF2 berries, whereas two important enzymes of anthocyanin biosynthesis, chalcone synthase and dihydroflavonol reductase, were not detected. Only a few proteins (e.g., two heat shock proteins related to protein fate and nutrient reservoir storage protein) were found to be up-regulated in LF2 berries. This suggested that, with the exception of secondary metabolism, many proteomic events may have an effect on anthocyanin synthesis in the skins responding to LF.

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Ben-Hong Wu, Shao-Hua Li, Marta Nosarzewski, and Douglas D. Archbold

Sorbitol is the primary photosynthate and translocated carbohydrate in apple (Malus ×domestica), and most of it is converted to fructose by sorbitol dehydrogenase (SDH) in sink tissues. We studied the expression of nine SDH genes, SDH activity, and sorbitol content of apple 1) in buds and floral tissues from dormancy to bloom, 2) in leaves and shoot tips of trees on two rootstocks, the moderately vigorous ‘Malling Merton 111’ (MM.111) and the dwarfing ‘Malling 9’ (M.9), and 3) in shoot tips in response to application of prohexadione-Ca to suppress shoot growth and defoliation and girdling (D/G) to deprive the shoot tip of sorbitol. In mature, orchard-grown trees, sorbitol was the main soluble carbohydrate in expressed xylem sap from dormancy to bloom at levels over 3- to 6-fold those of glucose and fructose, the other major sugars present. Sorbitol levels there increased from dormancy to its highest concentration at the half inch green stage and declined by bloom, while those of the other sugars increased. SDH activity per milligram of protein increased over 4-fold from dormancy to flowering. Three of the nine known SDH genes (SDH1, SDH2, and SDH3) were expressed in immature and mature leaves and all buds from dormancy to bloom, as well as in all floral organs, except that only SDH3 transcript was found in stamen tissue. Two genes, SDH6 and SDH9, were floral-tissue specific; SDH6 transcript was detected in all floral organs except stamens at full bloom, and SDH9 was only expressed in anthers with pollen. In buds and leaves of young, container-grown trees, SDH1 and SDH2 generally accounted for the majority of total SDH expression. There were generally no effects of rootstock on SDH expression, SDH activity, or sorbitol concentration in leaves, while apical shoot tips on M.9 rootstock exhibited greater SDH activity than those on MM.111 or lateral shoot tips on either rootstock, though SDH expression of apical and lateral shoot tips on M.9 was lower than on MM.111. Prohexadione-Ca reduced apical but not lateral shoot growth, increased apical but not lateral shoot tip sorbitol content, had no effect on SDH activity, and increased SDH1 expression of all shoot tips. D/G treatment reduced shoot growth, sorbitol content, and SDH activity, but increased SDH1 expression of apical shoot tips only and SDH2 expression of lateral shoot tips only. This work indicates that sorbitol and other sugars are abundantly available from dormancy to bloom, that SDH activity increased during this period, and that SDH expression is at least in part developmentally regulated within the individual floral and leaf tissues. In shoot tips and leaves of young trees, SDH transcript level was not correlated with sorbitol availability or SDH activity, suggesting that other factors have significant regulatory effects after SDH expression on SDH activity.

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Ben Hong Wu, Hai Qiang Huang, Pei Ge Fan, Shao Hua Li, and Guo Jie Liu

Five peach cultivars [Prunus persica (L.) Batch] with different maturity dates were subjected to sink–source manipulation by girdling to isolate 1-year-old fruit-bearing shoots. Four treatments were performed: fruit were removed (−fruit); one fruit (+1 fruit) and two fruit (+2 fruit) were kept inside two girdling cuts; and two fruit were kept outside two girdling cuts (−fruit*). Photosynthetic responses for the five cultivars were similar and did not show genotypic differences. Generally, net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g s), and transpiration rate (E) were higher, and leaf temperature (Tl) was lower in +2 fruit than in +1 fruit, followed by −fruit and −fruit* which were not different. The results also indicated that water outflow from fruit into leaves did not influence photosynthesis, and lower photosynthesis in −fruit treatment was not due to water status of source leaves influenced by removing fruit. Pn tended to increase with Tl until Tl reached a critical level. Beyond the critical temperature level, Pn generally decreased. The critical Tl was roughly identified as 34–37 °C for the five cultivars. Both higher and lower substomatal CO2 (Ci) levels occurred in −fruit and −fruit* treatments than in +1 fruit and +2 fruit treatments, indicating that decreased Pn could be due to both nonstomatal and stomatal limitations. Further analysis of the relationship between Ci and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) showed that nonstomatal limitation under low sink demand took place mostly under high PAR. Thus, high light intensity, combined with Tl may play an important role in leaf photosynthetic regulation.