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Impact of water deficit on tomato fruit growth and quality depending on the fruit developmental stage

Ripoll, J., Brunel, B., L'Hotel, J. C., Garcia, G., Bertin, N., Urban, L.
Acta horticulturae 2016 no.1112 pp. 173-178
cell division, climate change, deficit irrigation, dry matter content, fruit quality, fruiting, genotype, horticultural crops, ripening, taste, tomatoes, water resources
Climate change has a significant and increasing impact on water resources. Controlled water deficit may be a good alternative to current practices, to increase water use efficiency of horticultural crops. It is known to improve fruit quality but at the price of a reduction of yield. In this experimental approach, deficit irrigation was applied during different fruit development phases on two contrasted tomato (S. lycopersicum L.) genotypes. For the first genotype 'Plovdiv XXIVa', stress applied during cell division had the strongest negative impact on fruit water and osmotic potentials. A similar impact was observed for the second genotype LA1420, when stress was applied during ripening with an increase in dry matter content. Dry matter contents were improved as well as the accumulation of biochemical components at different developmental stage depending on genotype. Fruit size and fresh weight were not affected, except in the case of 'LA1420' fruits stressed during cell division, which were surprisingly bigger (up to 40% increase in fresh weight). These results support the idea that fruit taste may be improved by water deficit without yield reduction. The cell division and ripening phases seemed to be the most sensitive to water deficit, but responses were genotype-dependent.