The regulation of sweet cherry fruit abscission by polar auxin transport
Blanusa, T., Else, M.A., Atkinson, C.J. and Davies, W.J. (2005) The regulation of sweet cherry fruit abscission by polar auxin transport. Plant Growth Regulation, 45 (3). pp. 189-198. ISSN 0167-6903
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s10725-005-3568-9
Inconsistency of cropping is an important problem for UK sweet cherry production. Premature fruit abscission in Prunus can reduce yields severely, however, the environmental cues and hormonal signals that trigger abscission have not been identified. Auxin (IAA) is known to delay abscission by reducing the sensitivity of cells in the abscission zone to ethylene, a promoter of abscission. Therefore, the capacity for polar auxin transport (PAT) through sweet cherry pedicels was examined in relation to fruit abscission. Cherry ‘spurs’ (short shoots) with similar leaf areas and different fruit numbers were phloem-girdled to restrict assimilate movement. Abscission from spurs with many fruit (eight or more) occurred within 14 days of girdling, whereas abscission from spurs with few (two) fruit was minimal. The pedicels’ capacity for PAT in spurs with different fruit numbers was determined 1, 3 and 9 days after girdling (DAG). Fruit were analysed for endogenous IAA concentration 3, 5, 7 and 9 DAG. PAT inhibitors 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid or 1-N-naphthylphtalamic acid were applied to pedicels of fruit not expected to abscise, i.e. on spurs with few fruit. The effect of these inhibitors on fruit abscission was determined 14 DAG. The proportion of the transported [3H]-IAA was lower from the outset in pedicels from spurs with many fruit. By 9 DAG, symptoms of fruit abscission were apparent and 40% less [3H] -IAA was transported through pedicels on spurs with many fruit. Fruit endogenous IAA concentrations were similar in the two groups of spurs. Application of PAT inhibitors shortly after girdling increased fruit abscission by 30%. The results suggest that although a decline in PAT is not the only cause of fruit abscission, the maintenance of PAT contributes to fruit retention.