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Genetic and environmental effects on water use efficiency in peach

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Two unpruned narrow-leaf and two unpruned standard-leaf peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.] selections were evaluated for physiological components related to water use efficiency (WUE [carbon assimilation (A) per unit of transpiration (T)]). The purpose of the study was to assess the value of narrow-leaf phenotypes to improve WUE in peach and separate the environmental component of canopy geometry from the genetic components. The narrow-leaf characteristic itself did not confer improved WUE. The interception of light was a key determinant of WUE in these genotypes. Internal shading of the tree by excessive leaf area reduced daily WUE measured in gas exchange studies. Canopies that intercepted more than 75% of the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) had reduced daily WUE. Dormant season pruning of the four genotypes lowered isotopic carbon discrimination and therefore increased seasonal WUE compared to unpruned trees. None of the genotypes had a significant correlation of seasonal WUE with leaf and fruit weight. Analysis of covariance indicated that 'Bounty' and both narrow-leaf genotypes had greater leaf and fruit weight than 'Redhaven' for a given level of PAR interception. 'Bounty' had the least internal canopy shading of the four genotypes. Genetic differences in peach growth types can be selected for factors increasing WUE as well as increased productivity. Future work in peach breeding to improve WUE and productivity must take into consideration light interception, productivity, and WUE in an integrated manner to make real progress in the efficient use of water and light in the orchard environment.
Glenn, D.M. , Scorza, R. , Okie, W.R.
Includes references
Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 2006 Mar., v. 131, no. 2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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