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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (6) 296-305 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.6.5
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Effect of interstocks on the photosynthetic characteristics and carbon distribution of young apple trees during the vigorous growth period of shoots

Y.Q. Zhou1,2,*, S.J. Qin1,*, X.X. Ma2, J.E. Zhang2, P. Zhou3, M. Sun2, B.S. Wang2, H.F. Zhou2 and D.G. Lyu1
1College of Horticulture, Shenyang Agricultural University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
2Liaoning Institute of Pomology, Yingkou, Liaoning, China
3Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shenyang, Liaoning, China
*These authors contributed equally to the manuscript.

Interstocks are widely used in high-density orchards at cold areas with low-nutrient soil in recent decades. The effects of interstocks on leaf photosynthetic characteristics and translocation of photosynthates were determined by using 13C tracing method in 3-year-old ‘Hanfu’/GM256/Malus baccata (HF/GM/MB) trees (with interstocks) and ‘Hanfu’/Malus baccata (HF/MB) trees (non-interstocked) during the vigorous growth period of the shoots. Compared with HF/MB, HF/GM/MB leaves have greater leaf area, specific leaf weight, apparent quantum yield, carboxylation efficiency, chlorophyll a content and chlorophyll a/b, and could utilize light energy and CO2 more efficiently. Further, the HF/GM/MB leaves have greater carbon assimilation ability than the HF/MB leaves. The 13C partition in the aerial parts of the HF/MB trees showed a gradual decrease in the following order: shoots > trunks > 1-year-old branches > rootstocks. In contrast, the following order was observed in the HF/GM/MB trees: shoots > interstocks > 1-year-old branches > rootstocks > trunks. The 13C partition of the thick roots of HF/GM/MB declined with increase in 13C in the fine roots, but this trend was reversed in HF/MB. The interstocks have little effect on the velocity of 13C translocation from the shoots to the roots, but the sink strength of the interstocks changed the competitive capacity of the sink organs for photoassimilates. These findings suggest that GM256 as an interstock has the potential to induce growth rates of leaves of ‘Hanfu’ apple and does not hinder the translocation of photoassimilates in interstocks.

Keywords 13C translocation, dwarfing, gas exchange, leaf development, phenological period, roots

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • It was previously shown that not only scions but also rootstocks play a pivotal role in tree photosynthesis. However, the effects of interstock on the photosynthetic characteristics of scions leaves and carbon translocation in apple trees are largely unknown.
What are the new findings?
  • Interstocks have the potential to induce growth rates of scions leaves and improve leaf carbon assimilation ability during the vigorous growth period of shoots. The sink strength of interstocks affected the competitive capacity of sink organs for photosynthates, which in turn led to differences in 13C allocation between the interstocked and noninterstocked apple trees.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Selection of an appropriate interstock, which has little effect on the photosynthates translocation from the shoots to the roots, is an important parameter to consider for the establishment of high-density apple orchards using interstocks in cold areas with low fertile soil.

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Received: 27 February 2015 | Revised: 19 June 2015 | Accepted: 19 May 2015 | Published: 21 December 2015 | Available online: 21 December 2015

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