Journal Article

Carbon allocation during fruiting in <i>Rubus chamaemorus</i>

R. Gauci, B. Otrysko, J.-G. Catford and L. Lapointe

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 4, pages 703-713
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp142
Carbon allocation during fruiting in Rubus chamaemorus

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Rubus chamaemorus (cloudberry) is a herbaceous clonal peatland plant that produces an extensive underground rhizome system with distant ramets. Most of these ramets are non-floral. The main objectives of this study were to determine: (a) if plant growth was source limited in cloudberry; (b) if the non-floral ramets translocated carbon (C) to the fruit; and (c) if there was competition between fruit, leaves and rhizomes for C during fruit development.

Methods

Floral and non-floral ramet activities were monitored during the period of flower and fruit development using three approaches: gas exchange measurements, 14CO2 labelling and dry mass accumulation in the different organs. Source and sink activity were manipulated by eliminating leaves or flowers or by reducing rhizome length.

Key Results

Photosynthetic rates were lower in floral than in deflowered ramets. Autoradiographs and 14C labelling data clearly indicated that fruit is a very strong sink for the floral ramet, whereas non-floral ramets translocated C toward the rhizome but not toward floral ramets. Nevertheless, rhizomes received some C from the floral ramet throughout the fruiting period. Ramets with shorter rhizomes produced smaller leaves and smaller fruits, and defoliated ramets produced very small fruits.

Conclusions

Plant growth appears to be source-limited in cloudberry since a reduction in sink strength did not induce a reduction in photosynthetic activity. Non-floral ramets did not participate directly to fruit development. Developing leaves appear to compete with the developing fruit but the intensity of this competition could vary with the specific timing of the two organs. The rhizome appears to act both as a source but also potentially as a sink during fruit development. Further studies are needed to characterize better the complex role played by the rhizome in fruit C nutrition.

Keywords: Allocation pattern; 14C labelling; carbon translocation; carbon reserves; cloudberry; defoliation; fruit production; gas exchange; Rubus chamaemorus; source–sink relationship; flowering

Journal Article.  7318 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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