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Crop Science Abstract -

Photosynthetic Characteristics of Three Asparagus Cultivars Differing in Yield


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 39 No. 4, p. 1070-1077
    Received: June 5, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): wbs@waikato.ac.nz
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  1. Marty J. Faville,
  2. Warwick B. Silvester ,
  3. T. G. Allan Green and
  4. William A. Jermyn
  1. NZ Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd, Private Bag 4704, Christchurch, New Zealand.



The physiological basis of yield in asparagus (Asparagus offincinalis L.) is poorly understood, but some reports have inferred a link between lateral fern photosynthesis (A) and annual spear yield. Gas exchange measurements were made on single lateral ferns of mature asparagus plants in the field and younger, potted plants. Among three cultivars with different levels of yield, the light-saturated rate ofphotusynthesis (Asat) was positively associated with crop yield in both sets of plants. There was a highly significant correlation between Asat and stomatal conductance (gs). Asat also increased with fern nitrogen, chlorophyll, and soluble protein concentrations across the cultivars. These data imply that differences in both gs and photosynthetic capacity contributed to the variation in Asat, and this was supported by AJCI (internal CO2 concentration) analysis. Variation in photosynthetic capacity was related to genotypic differences in cladophyli diameter and thus the content (per unit sudace area) of photosynthetic biochemical constituents and, possibly, mesophyll resistance to CO2 diffusion. The possibility of genotypic variation in other photosynthetic parameters was also noted. It is concluded that fern Asat might be a predictor of yield in asparagus, and of potential use in early selection for breeding, but confirmation of such a relationship requires investigation in a wider range of genotypes.

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