Calcium Absorption in strawberry, the link between polar-auxin transport, ripening and fruit firmness

Conference: NJF Conference on horticulture 2019, Tartu, Estonia, June 2019


David Marks, Sally Wilkinson, Anna Weston
Levity Crop Science Ltd., The Rural Business Centre, Myerscough College,Bilsborrow PR3 0RY, UK
Conference Date; 10-12 June 2019
There is a strong correlation between fruit calcium level in strawberry crops and post harvest shelf life and fruit firmness. Calcium fertilisation of strawberry has been shown in the literature to be both effective and ineffective at improving quality. We propose that erratic performance observed in calcium fertilisation of strawberry is due to a combination of issues with transport (lack of phloem mobility) and uneven absorption. Calcium absorption in plant tissue is linked to polar-auxin transport, making tissues low in auxin poor absorbers of applied calcium. Strawberry are a non-climateric fruit and ripening is triggered not by exposure to ethylene but by genes linked to cessation of auxin transport from achene to receptacle via phytoplasmic strands. As the receptacles (fruits) ripen auxin levels decrease with ripe strawberry fruit having low auxin levels. As calcium absorption is linked to polar-auxin transport ripe strawberry fruit is physiologically less able to absorb calcium than young fruit or other parts of the plant. Here we present experiments looking at the use of calcium transport stimulants (MCAS) to increase efficacy of foliar calcium for improvement of fruit firmness and other quality parameters on strawberry fruit. Introduction of MCAS into standard calcium formulations improved the firmness of fruit, post harvest shelf life of fruit, fruit weight, and fruit number when compared to use of standard foliar calcium applications. We propose that incorporation of MCAS into foliar calcium fertilisers allow calcium to be evenly absorbed by the crop giving better fruit number, fruit weight, and improving key fruit quality parameters.
Calcium, Polar-auxin transport, Strawberry 
Main Subjects
Strawberry, Plant Nutrition