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Carbohydrate depletion and leaf blackening in Protea neriifolia

, : Carbohydrate depletion and leaf blackening in Protea neriifolia. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 116(6): 1019-1024

Leaf blackening on cut flower Protea neriifolia R. Br. stems was dramatically reduced under a 12-hour photosynthetic light period (120 micromole.m-2.s-1) at 25C for 15 days compared with stems kept in the dark. In the light, addition of 0.5% exogenous sugar to the vase solution resulted in a maximum of 2.5% leaf blackening, while stems with no exogenous sugar had a maximum of 16.5%. Continuous darkness resulted in 94% leaf blackening by day 7, irrespective of sugar treatment. Starch and sucrose concentrations were markedly lower in leaves on dark-held stems than in leaves on stems held in the light; thus, carbohydrate depletion could be the primary stress that initiates leaf blackening. In the light, rates of carbon exchange and assimilate export were similar, indicating that the amount of carbon fixed may be regulated by sink demand. The pattern of carbon partitioning changed in light-held leaves of the 0% sugar treatment during rapid floral expansion and senescence. Inflorescence expansion appears to influence partitioning of photoassimilates and storage reserves into transport carbohydrates; under decreased sink demand, the assimilate export rate decreases and photoassimilates are partitioned into starch. The data suggest that sink strength of inflorescences held in darkness may be responsible for the depletion of leaf carbohydrates and, consequently, blackening.

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