Delay of early fruitlet abscission by branch girdling in citrus coincides with previous increases in carbohydrate and gibberellin concentrations
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Current evidence in citrus indicates that gibberellins (GAs) are main determinants of early fruit set while subsequent growth of developing fruits is mostly dependent upon carbohydrate availability. In this work, branch girdling performed at anthesis in Satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu (Mak.) Marc.) cv. Okitsu transitorily reduced early abscission rates (12-32 days after anthesis, DAA) delaying initially the process of natural fruitlet drop. The effects of girdling on growth, gibberellin (GA) and carbohydrate concentrations in developing ovaries and fruitlets were assessed during this initial growth stage (0-69 DAA). In girdled branches, abscission rate reduction was preceded by elevated concentrations of carbohydrate and GA in developing ovaries and fruitlets. Girdling at anthesis stimulated higher hexose (21 DAA) and starch (6-20 DAA) concentrations and also higher GA(1) (6 DAA), GA(19) (13-20 DAA) and GA(20) (6-20 DAA). The results established a relationship between the reduction of early abscission rates and higher concentrations of carbohydrates and GAs induced by girdling in developing fruitlets. These findings revealed that girdling certainly increased GA concentration and strongly suggested that its effect on early fruitlet abscission delay is likely mediated by both GA and carbohydrates.