Vascular function in berries of Vitis vinifera (L) cv. Shiraz


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Anatomical studies on the movement of a xylem tracer dye were combined with functional studies on changes in grape berry volume during final stages of berry ripening to gauge xylem effectiveness. Movement of a xylem tracer dye into pre-veraison fruit was compared with movement into post-veraison fruit by feeding a solution of acid fuchsin to excised shoots with bunches still attached, and then sectioning fruit for photo-microscopy. Those comparisons confirmed published studies showing an apparent blockage to dye movement along major vessels within the brush tissue of post-veraison fruit. However, our functional approach yielded a different impression of vascular activity. A continuation of xylem transport in ripening fruit was inferred from comparisons of berry volume where pedicels were either girdled (phloem interrupted, but xylem intact) or excised (both phloem and xylem interrupted). Volume changes in manipulated berries were compared with immediately adjacent intact control berries within the same bunch. Control fruit lost volume subsequent to 78 days after flowering (DAF) while manipulated fruit lost volume from the first day of treatment at 67 DAF. By harvest time at 95 DAF, both control fruit and girdled fruit had fallen to 91% and excised fruit to 46% of maximum volumes recorded around 78 DAF. Berry volume loss in girdled fruit was further enhanced by deficit irrigation. We conclude that xylem flow into those Shiraz berries must have continued beyond veraison despite dye evidence of a vessel blockage within the brush region of analogous post-veraison fruit.