Physiological and morphological changes during early and later stages of fruit growth in Capsicum annuum



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Fruit-set involves a series of physiological and morphological changes that are well described for tomato and Arabidopsis, but largely unknown for sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum). The aim of this paper is to investigate whether mechanisms of fruit-set observed in Arabidopsis and tomato are also applicable to C. annuum. To do this, we accurately timed the physiological and morphological changes in a post-pollinated and un-pollinated ovary. A vascular connection between ovule and replum was observed in fertilized ovaries that undergo fruit development, and this connection was absent in unfertilized ovaries that abort. This indicates that vascular connection between ovule and replum is an early indicator for successful fruit development after pollination and fertilization. Evaluation of histological changes in the carpel of a fertilized and unfertilized ovary indicated that increase in cell number and cell diameter both contribute to early fruit growth. Cell division contributes more during early fruit growth while cell expansion contributes more at later stages of fruit growth in C. annuum. The simultaneous occurrence of a peak in auxin concentration and a strong increase in cell diameter in the carpel of seeded fruits suggest that indole-3-acetic acid stimulates a major increase in cell diameter at later stages of fruit growth. The series of physiological and morphological events observed during fruit-set in C. annuum are similar to what has been reported for tomato and Arabidopsis. This indicates that tomato and Arabidopsis are suitable model plants to understand details of fruit-set mechanisms in C. annuum.