Hormonal regulation of fruitlet abscission induced by carbohydrate shortage in citrus
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The hormonal signals controlling fruitlet abscission induced by sugar shortage in citrus were identified in Satsuma mandarin, Citrus unshiu (Mak.) Marc, cv. Clausellina and cv. Okitsu. Sugar supply, hormonal responses and fruitlet abscission were manipulated through full, partial or selective leaf removals at anthesis and thereafter. In developing fruitlets, defoliations reduced soluble sugars (up to 98%), but did not induce nitrogen and water deficiencies. Defoliation-induced abscission was preceded by rises (up to 20-fold) in the levels of abscisic acid (ABA) and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) in fruitlets. Applications to defoliated plants showed that ABA increased ACC levels (2-fold) and accelerated fruitlet abscission, whereas norflurazon and 2-aminoethoxyvinyl glycine reduced ACC (up to 65%) and fruitlet abscission (up to 40%). Only the fun defoliation treatment reduced endogenous gibberellin Al (4-fold), whereas exogenous gibberellins had no effect on abscission. The data indicate that fruitlet abscission induced by carbon shortage in citrus is regulated by ABA and ACC originating in the fruits, while gibberellins are apparently implicated in the maintenance of growth. In this system, ABA may act as a sensor of the intensity of the nutrient shortage that modulates the levels of ACC and ethylene, the activator of abscission. This proposal identifies ABA and ACC as components of the self-regulatory mechanism that adjusts fruit load to carbon supply, and offers a physiological basis for the photoassimilate competition-induced abscission occurring under natural conditions.