, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 508–516 | Cite as

Rearrangement of leaf traits with changing source-sink relationship in blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) leaves

  • E. Jorquera-Fontena
  • M. Alberdi
  • M. Reyes-Díaz
  • N. Franck
Original papers


The source-sink relationship is one of major determinants of plant performance. The influence of reproductive sink demand on light-saturated photosynthesis (P max), dark respiration (R D), stomatal conductance (g s), intrinsic water-use efficiency (WUEi), contents of soluble sugar (SSC), nitrogen, carbon, and photosynthetic pigments was examined in blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. cv. ‘Brigitta’) during the final stage of rapid fruit growth. Measurements were performed three times per day on developed, sun-exposed leaves of girdled shoots with 0.1, 1, and 10 fruit per leaf (0.1F:L, 1F:L, and 10F:L, respectively) and nongirdled shoots bearing one fruit per leaf (NG). Girdling and lower fruit amount induced lower P max, g s, N, and total chlorophyll (Chl) and higher WUEi, SSC, R D, Chl a/b ratio and carotenoids-to-chlorophylls ratio (Car/Chl) for the 1F:L and 0.1F:L treatments. The impact of girdling was counterbalanced by 10F:L, with NG and 10F:L having similar values. Variables other than P max, R D, g s, WUEi, and SSC were unaffected throughout the course of the day. P max and g s decreased during the course of the day, but g s decreased more than P max in the afternoon, while WUEi was increasing in almost all treatments. SSC increased from the morning until afternoon, whereas R D peaked at noon regardless of the treatment. Generally, P max was closely and negatively correlated to SSC, indicating that sugar-sensing mechanisms played an important role in regulation of blueberry leaf photosynthesis. With respect to treatments, P max and N content were positively related, while R D was not associated to substrate availability. The enhanced Car/Chl ratio showed a higher photoprotection under the lower sink demand. Changes in the source-sink relationship in ‘Brigitta’ blueberry led to a rearrangement of physiological and structural leaf traits which allowed adjusting the daily balance between carbon assimilation and absorbed light energy.

Additional key words

gas exchange nitrogen photosynthetic pigments soluble sugars 



measurements at 08:00–10:40






total chlorophylls


dry mass


fresh mass


stomatal conductance to water vapour


nongirdled shoots


light-saturated photosynthesis


measurements at 17:00–19:40


dark respiration rate


soluble sugar concentration


intrinsic water-use efficiency


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Jorquera-Fontena
    • 1
  • M. Alberdi
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. Reyes-Díaz
    • 2
    • 3
  • N. Franck
    • 4
  1. 1.Programa de Doctorado y Magister en Ciencias de Recursos NaturalesUniversidad de La FronteraTemucoChile
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencias QuímicasUniversidad de La FronteraTemucoChile
  3. 3.Center of Plant-Soil Interaction and Natural Resources, Biotechnology, Scientific, and Technological Bioresource Nucleus (BIOREN)Universidad de La FronteraTemucoChile
  4. 4.Centro de Estudios de Zonas Áridas, Facultad de Ciencias AgronómicasUniversidad de ChileCoquimboChile

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