Dynamics of grape berry growth and physiology of ripening

  • Coombe B
  • McCarthy M
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Data from two experiments on development of grape berries is re-examined with emphasis on partitioning of berry weight into non-solutes per berry (largely water) and solutes per berry (largely sugar), using weight times juice °Brix. This approach is based on the thought that, since xylem flow is blocked after veraison, time curves of solutes per berry indicate the activity of phloem transport into the berry during ripening growth. Experiment 1: Measurements of Muscat Gordo Blanco berries from inflorescences with a spread of flowering times showed typical double-sigmoid volume/time curves but with divergent rates and amounts of volume increase. Despite this divergence, °Brix curves after veraison were almost coincident because, in each case, the rate of increase in solutes per berry was proportional to that of berry volume. These results indicate that sugar and water increments after veraison are linked and depend on the same source, namely, phloem sap. Experiment 2: An irrigation experiment on cv. Shiraz also showed divergent berry weight curves between treatments and years but with the difference that all berries shrank after a maximum berry weight was attained at 91 days after flowering (at about 20 °Brix). At this point, the curves of solutes per berry slowed then plateaued, indicating that inflow of phloem sap had become impeded. Prior to shrinkage these berries accumulated primary metabolites (mainly phloem sugar) but, during shrinkage, when berries were apparently isolated from vascular transport, non- anthocyanin glycosides accumulated. These results have implications for the study of berry flavour build- up and berry composition, and also for the understanding of sink competition within the vine, fresh and dried yield, and juice °Brix levels.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Berry solutes
  • Berry water
  • Berry weight
  • Grape berry
  • Xylem and phloem transport

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  • B. G. Coombe

  • M. G. McCarthy

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