, Volume 192, Issue 4, pp 567-573

Retranslocation of carbon reserves from the woody storage tissues into the fruit as a response to defoliation stress during the ripening period in Vitis vinifera L.

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A technique for reliable labeling of the carbon reserves of the trunk and roots without labeling the current year's growth of grapevines was developed in order to study retranslocation of carbon from the perennial storage tissues into the fruit in response to defoliation stress during the ripening period. A special training system with two shoots was used: the lower one (feeding shoot) was cut back and defoliated to one single leaf (14CO2-feeding leaf) while the other (main shoot) was topped to 12 leaves. The potted plants were placed in a water bath at 30 °C to increase root temperature and therefore their sink activity. Additionally, a cold barrier (2–4 °C) was installed at the base of the main shoot to inhibit acropetal 14C translocation. Using this method, we were able to direct labeled assimilates to trunk and roots in preference to the current year's growth. On vines with root and shoot at ambient temperature, 44% of the 14C activity was found in the main shoot 16 h after feeding whereas only 2% was found in the temperature-treated vines. At the onset of fruit ripening, and at three-week intervals thereafter until harvest, potted grapevines were fed with 14CO2 using the temperature treatment described above. Sixteen hours after feeding, half of the vines of each group were defoliated by removing all except the two uppermost main leaves. Three weeks after each treatment, vines were destructively harvested and the dry weight and 14C incorporation determined for all plant parts. Under non-stressing conditions, there was no retranslocation of carbon reserves to support fruit maturation. Vines responded to defoliation stress by altering the natural translocation pattern and directing carbon stored in the lower parts to the fruit. In the three weeks following veraison (the inception of ripening in the grape berry), 12% of the labeled carbon reserves was translocated to the fruit of defoliated plants compared to 1.6% found in the clusters of control vines. Retranslocation from trunk and roots was highest during the middle of the ripening period, when 32% of the labeled carbon was found in the fruit compared to 0.7% in control plants. Defoliation during this period also caused major changes in dry-matter partitioning: the fruit represented 31% of total plant biomass compared to 21% measured in the control vines. Root growth was reduced by defoliation at veraison and during the ripening period. Defoliation three weeks before harvest did not affect dry matter or 14C partitioning.

The authors thank Prof. G.S. Howell (Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture, East Lansing, Mich., USA), Prof. Kay Grimnes (Alma College, Department of Biology, Alma, Mich., USA) and D. Miller (Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture) for their critical review of this manuscript.