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Assimilate storage in vegetative organs of coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Mialet-Serra I., Clément A., Sonderegger N., Roupsard O., Jourdan C., Labouisse J.P., Dingkuhn M.. 2005. Experimental Agriculture, 41 : p. 161-174.

DOI: 10.1017/S0014479704002467

Assimilate storage in vegetative organs is an essential buffer for the source-sink imbalances that inevitably occur in perennial plants. In contrast to temperate trees, little information is available on such storage in tropical perennials, and almost none for Cocos nucifera. This paper describes the chemical nature, quantity and distribution of carbohydrate reserves in coconut plants grown in an environment favourable to production. The study was carried out on the island of Santo (Republic of Vanuatu, Southern Pacific) on twelve 17-year-old adult plants, representative of a large population, which were felled and characterized for root, trunk and crown dry matter, and contents of soluble sugars and starch. Roots were divided into three diameter classes and distal/proximal portions, the trunk into three axial and three or four radial zones, and the crown into petiole, rachis and leaflets for various leaf ages. The aggregate reserve pool size was compared with estimates of incremental demand for assimilates for growth and fruit production. Plants contained little starch but large quantities of sucrose were found, mainly located in the trunk. Less sucrose was present in roots and little in leaf blades. Large glucose and fructose pools were found in leaves, near the apex of the trunk and in the terminal portions of large roots. Aggregate soluble and non-soluble sugar pools were about equivalent to six months of copra production or 51 days of crop growth. More studies are needed on the dynamics of these sugars to evaluate their physiological role, particularly with regards to stress periods and fluctuating demand for fruit filling.

Mots-clés : cocos nucifera; organe de réserve; teneur en glucides; physiologie végétale; feuille; racine; teneur en amidon; sink effect

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