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Sweet cherry water relations and fruit production efficiency are affected by rootstock vigor

Morandi, Brunella, Manfrini, Luigi, Lugli, Stefano, Tugnoli, Alice, Boini, Alexandra, Perulli, Giulio Demetrio, Bresilla, Kushtrim, Venturi, Melissa, Corelli Grappadelli, Luca
Journal of plant physiology 2019 v.237 pp. 43-50
Prunus avium, canopy, carbohydrates, cherries, dwarfing, fruit crops, fruit quality, fruiting, grafting (plants), leaves, orchards, phloem, photosynthesis, physiological response, rootstocks, shoots, stomatal conductance, total soluble solids, trees, vigor, water potential, water use efficiency, xylem
Rootstock vigor is well known to affect yield and productive performance in many fruit crops and the dwarfing trait is often the preferred choice for modern orchard systems thanks to its improved productivity and reduced canopy volume. This work investigates the different physiological responses induced by rootstock vigor on cherry, by comparing shoot and fruit growth, water relations, leaf gas exchanges as well as fruit vascular and transpiration in/outflows of “Black Star” trees grafted on semi-vigorous (CAB6 P) and on semi-dwarfing (Gisela™6) rootstocks. The daily patterns of stem (Ψstem), leaf (Ψleaf) and fruit (Ψfruit) water potential, leaf photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration, shoot and fruit growth, fruit phloem, xylem and transpiration flows were assessed both in pre- and post-veraison, while productivity and fruit quality were determined at harvest. At both stages, no significant differences were found on Ψleaf, photosynthesis, fruit daily growth rates as well as fruit vascular and transpiration flows, while trees on Gisela™6 showed lower shoot growth rates and lower Ψstem and Ψfruit than trees on CAB6 P. The resulting decrease in stem-to-leaf Ψ gradient on Gisela™6 trees determined a reduction in shoot growth by decreasing shoot strength as sinks for water and carbohydrates. On the other hand, Gisela™6 fruit lowered their Ψfruit thanks to a higher osmotic accumulation and increased their competitiveness towards shoots, as confirmed by the higher productivity and fruit soluble solid content found at harvest for these trees. These results indicate that rootstock vigor alters resource competition between vegetative and reproductive growth, which can affect water use efficiency, yield, and fruit quality.