, Volume 135, Issue 2, pp 155-159

Sites of ethylene production in the pollinated and unpollinated senescing carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) inflorescence

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Production of endogenous ethylene from the styles, ovary and petals of pollinated and unpollinated flowers of Dianthus caryophyllus L. was measured. The rate of ethylene production of cut, unpollinated flowers aged in water at 18°C was low until the onset of petal wilting, when a rapid surge of ethylene occurred in all tissues. The flower ethylene production was evolved mostly from the styles and petals. The bases of petals from unpollinated, senescing flowers evolved ethylene faster and sometimes earlier than the upper parts. Treatment of cut flowers with propylene, an ethylene analogue, accelerated wilting of flower petals and promoted endogenous ethylene production in all flower tissues. Pollination of intact flowers also promoted endogenous ethylene production and caused accelerated petal wilting within 2–3 days from pollination. Although the data are consistent with the hypothesis that ethylene forms a link between pollination of the style and petal wilting, in the unpollinated flower the style and petals can evolve a surge of ethylene independently of each other, about the time when the petals irreversibly wilt. The results are discussed in relation to the role of ethylene in flower senescence.