Prunus ferganensis (Kost. & Riab) Kov. & Kost, a close relative of the cultivated peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.), is native to arid regions of central Asia and may possess traits valuable for improving drought tolerance of commercial peach varieties. One distinguishing feature of P. ferganensis is its prominent, elongated, unbranched leaf venation pattern, which behaves as a simple recessive trait in segregating populations of P. ferganensis x P. persica hybrids. To understand whether this trait could be used as a marker in breeding for drought tolerance, we investigated the association between leaf morphological and physiological parameters related to drought response in P. ferganensis, peach, and two interspecific hybrids, one which possessed the long-vein trait (BY94P7585), and another which did not (BY94P7589). The four genotypes were grafted onto ‘Guardian’ peach rootstock and grown in pots in a greenhouse for 3-4 months prior to drought treatments. Each genotype was divided into well-watered and water stressed groups, the latter accomplished by irrigating at 25-50% of rate of evapotranspiration (ET) measured in well watered plants (well watered plants received 100% of ET daily). Drought stress reduced photosynthesis (A) and leaf conductance (g) by 50-83%, reduced total leaf area per plant by 17-24%, but generally did not affect mid-morning leaf water potential, responses consistent with non-hydraulic signaling of decreased water availability by roots. Leaf gas exchange did not differ among genotype whether well-watered or stressed. Sorbitol accumulated in mature leaves in response to drought, but neither its amount nor its metabolism varied systematically with climatic adaptation among genotypes. Accumulation of transport sugars was highest in P. ferganensis, indicating that growth reduction may represent an important strategy for coping with drought in this species. P. ferganensis and both hybrids had higher ET than peach in the well-watered condition, and seemed to use water opportunistically – maintaining high rates of gas exchange and consequently ET when water was available, then avoiding low water potentials through stomatal closure as soil water declined. Leaf size (cm2 leaf-1) and specific leaf area (cm2 g-1 dry weight) were lower in the three genotypes with P. ferganensis background compared to peach, consistent with trends observed for other tree species collected along rainfall gradients. Although the long-vein trait per se does not provide a reliable marker for drought tolerance, the leaf size and leaf thickness traits of P. ferganensis may be incorporated into peach by use of this species in breeding programs.
|Numero di pagine||8|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2003|
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