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From structural constraints to hydraulic function in three Vitis rootstocks

Shtein, Ilana, Hayat, Yair, Munitz, Sarel, Harcavi, Eran, Akerman, Michal, Drori, Elyashiv, Schwartz, Amnon, Netzer, Yishai
Trees 2017 v.31 no.3 pp. 851-861
Vitis vinifera, cultivars, environmental factors, grapes, growth rings, physiological response, rootstocks, scions, vines, water stress, winemaking
KEY MESSAGE : Narrow stem size in limiting Vitis rootstocks imposes a morphological constraint on the scion via reduced annual ring size, and thus reduces hydraulic conductivity and subsequently physiological performance and yield. Graft is a union between two separate species or cultivars, which produces a chimera plant with new qualities—as rootstock affects scion growth, yield, and adaptability to different environmental conditions. In Vitis, it is possible to generate rootstock/scion combinations that produce a desired drought stress effect crucial for high-quality wine production, though the mechanisms for such interactions are complex and poorly understood. The current study was done on vines with an identical scion (Vitis vinifera ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’) grafted on three different rootstocks—either Riparia Gloire, Paulsen 1103 or 420A—in attempt to explain the differences in water status by examining the underlying anatomical constraints and calculated theoretical hydraulic conductivity. There was a significant difference in physiological responses and yield between the grafts. Riparia Gloire grafts had the lowest water potentials and the highest quality grapes, together with low root, scion stem, and branch theoretical hydraulic conductivity. In scions grafted on Riparia Gloire, the annual growth rings were significantly narrower than in the other two grafts, causing a significantly lower theoretical hydraulic conductivity per annual ring. The narrow annual ring size in scion stem was imposed by the morphological constraint of the stem size. In hydraulically inferior Riparia Gloire grafts, the difference was disproportionally large, with a wide scion grafted on a very narrow rootstock, and Paulsen 1103 had the smoothest graft union. Our results indicate that the ability to develop stronger drought stress in Vitis grafts depends on rootstock-imposed morphological restriction of hydraulic conductivity.