• CO2 exchange rate;
  • cucumber;
  • Cucumis sativus;
  • fruit respiration;
  • growth;
  • maintenance;
  • temperature

The rates of dry weight increase and respiration of fruits were measured throughout fruit ontogeny at 20, 25 and 30°C in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L. cv. Corona). By maintaining one or five fruits per plant, which strongly affected fruit dry weight but not ontogeny, the effects of fruit size and ontogeny on respiration could be studied separately. The respiration rate per fruit followed a sigmoid curve during fruit ontogeny, while the specific respiration rate (respiration rate per unit dry weight) declined with time after anthesis. The specific respiration rate was almost linearly related to the relative growth rate. The specific respiratory costs for both growth and maintenance were highest in young fruits, but were not affected by fruit size. The average specific respiratory costs for growth and maintenance at 25°C were 3.3–3.9 mmol CO2 g−1 and 4.0 nmol CO2 g−1 s−1, respectively. An increase in temperature had no effect on the specific respiratory costs for growth, while the costs for maintenance increased with a Q10 of about 2. The costs for growth agreed reasonably well with theoretical estimates based on the chemical composition of the fruits but not with estimates based on only the carbon and ash content. The respiratory losses as a fraction of the total carbon requirement of a fruit changed during fruit ontogeny, but were independent of temperature and were similar for slow- and fast-growing fruits. The cumulative respiratory losses accounted for 13–15% of the total carbon requirement.