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Environmental and trophic determinism of fruit abscission and outlook with climate change in tropical regions

Tisne S., Denis M., Domonhedo H., Pallas B., Cazemajor M., Tranbarger T.J., Morcillo F.. 2020. Plant-Environment Interactions, 1 (1) : p. 17-28.

DOI: 10.1002/pei3.10011

Fruit abscission facilitates the optimal conditions and timing of seed dispersal. Environmental regulation of tropical fruit abscission has received little attention, even though climate change may have its strongest impacts in tropical regions. In this study, oil palm fruit abscission was monitored during multiple years in the Benin Republic to take advantage of the climatic seasonality and the continuous fruit production by this species. An innovative multivariable statistical method was used to identify the best predictors of fruit abscission among a set of climate and ecophysiological variables, and the stage of inflorescence and fruit bunch development when the variables are perceived. The effects of climate scenarios on fruit abscission were then predicted based on the calibrated model. We found complex regulation takes place at specific stages of inflorescence and bunch development, even long before the fruit abscission zone is competent to execute abscission. Among the predictors selected, temperature variations during inflorescence and fruit bunch development are major determinants of the fruit abscission process. Furthermore, the timing of ripe fruit drop is determined by temperature in combination with the trophic status. Finally, climate simulations revealed that the abscission process is robust and is more affected by seasonal variations than by extreme scenarios. Our investigations highlighted the central function of the abscission zone as the sensor of environmental signals during reproductive development. Coupling ecophysiological and statistical modeling was an efficient approach to disentangle this complex environmental regulation.

Mots-clés : abscission; elaeis guineensis; facteur lié au site; facteur du milieu; changement climatique; adaptation physiologique; zone tropicale; facteur climatique; bénin

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