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Effects of the source:sink ratio on the phenotypic plasticity of stem water potential in olive (Olea europaea L.)

Trentacoste, Eduardo R., Sadras, Víctor Oscar, Puertas, Carlos Marcelo
Journal of experimental botany 2011 v.62 no.10 pp. 3535-3543
Olea europaea, fruits, irrigation, oils, olives, orchards, phenotypic plasticity, plant-water relations, rain, stems, trees, water potential, yield components, Argentina
The aims of this work were to quantify (i) the effect of the source:sink ratio on stem water potential (SWP) and (ii) the phenotypic plasticity of SWP and its relationship to oil yield components in olive. Trees with a 3-fold variation in the source:sink ratio (crown volume/fruit number per tree) were monitored in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 in a fully irrigated orchard in Mendoza, Argentina. The combination of rainfall, irrigation, and evaporative demand led to a steady SWP largely above -1.65 MPa in 2007-2008 and a marked seasonal decline from -1.13 MPa to -2.04 MPa in trees with a medium and low source:sink ratio in 2008-2009. Plasticity was quantified as the slope of the norm of reaction for each trait. Across seasons, trees with a high source:sink ratio had a higher SWP than their counterparts with a medium and low source:sink ratio. Plasticity of SWP was highest in olives with a low source:sink ratio (slope=1.28) and lowest for trees with a high source:sink ratio (slope=0.76). The average SWP for each source:sink ratio and season was unrelated to both the source:sink ratio and yield components. On the other hand, the plasticity of SWP was positively associated with fruit number and negatively associated with the source:sink ratio, fruit weight, and fruit oil weight. The plasticity of the SWP was unrelated to SWP per se. It is concluded that understanding the effect of the source:sink ratio on plant water relations would benefit from a dual perspective considering the trait per se and its plasticity. A dual approach would also allow for more robust plant-based indicators for irrigation.