Journal Article

Dry matter partitioning models for the simulation of individual fruit growth in greenhouse cucumber canopies

Dirk Wiechers, Katrin Kahlen and Hartmut Stützel

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 108, issue 6, pages 1075-1084
Published in print October 2011 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr150
Dry matter partitioning models for the simulation of individual fruit growth in greenhouse cucumber canopies

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
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Background and Aims

Growth imbalances between individual fruits are common in indeterminate plants such as cucumber (Cucumis sativus). In this species, these imbalances can be related to differences in two growth characteristics, fruit growth duration until reaching a given size and fruit abortion. Both are related to distribution, and environmental factors as well as canopy architecture play a key role in their differentiation. Furthermore, events leading to a fruit reaching its harvestable size before or simultaneously with a prior fruit can be observed. Functional–structural plant models (FSPMs) allow for interactions between environmental factors, canopy architecture and physiological processes. Here, we tested hypotheses which account for these interactions by introducing dominance and abortion thresholds for the partitioning of assimilates between growing fruits.

Methods

Using the L-System formalism, an FSPM was developed which combined a model for architectural development, a biochemical model of photosynthesis and a model for assimilate partitioning, the last including a fruit growth model based on a size-related potential growth rate (RP). Starting from a distribution proportional to RP, the model was extended by including abortion and dominance. Abortion was related to source strength and dominance to sink strength. Both thresholds were varied to test their influence on fruit growth characteristics. Simulations were conducted for a dense row and a sparse isometric canopy.

Key Results

The simple partitioning models failed to simulate individual fruit growth realistically. The introduction of abortion and dominance thresholds gave the best results. Simulations of fruit growth durations and abortion rates were in line with measurements, and events in which a fruit was harvestable earlier than an older fruit were reproduced.

Conclusions

Dominance and abortion events need to be considered when simulating typical fruit growth traits. By integrating environmental factors, the FSPM can be a valuable tool to analyse and improve existing knowledge about the dynamics of assimilates partitioning.

Keywords: Modelling; individual fruit growth; functional–structural plant model; L-System; Cucumis sativus; cucumber; plant architecture; assimilate distribution

Journal Article.  7296 words.  Illustrated.

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

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