Predicting Flowering Behavior and Exploring Its Genetic Determinism in an Apple Multi-family Population Based on Statistical Indices and Simplified Phenotyping
In many commercial fruit crop species, high fruit load inhibits vegetative growth and floral induction. As a result, trees that had a high fruit load will bear few flowers and fruit the following year, along with abundant vegetative growth. We previously discussed how high fruit load interferes with concurrent shoot growth. Here we focus on how high fruit load impacts the process of flowering. Ascertaining the precise time at which specific buds begin the floral transition in each species is challenging. The use of indirect approaches to determine time of floral induction or evocation may lead to questionable conclusions. Annual and perennial plants appear to use conserved proteins for flowering induction and initiation. The accumulation or reduction of transcripts encoding proteins similar to Arabidopsis (annual) FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) and TERMINAL FLOWER1 (TFL1), respectively, correlates well with flower induction in several diverse species. The recent use of such markers provides a means to formulate an accurate timeframe for floral induction in different species and holds promise in providing new insight into this important developmental event. A role for hormones in modulating the inhibitory effect of fruit load on floral induction is also discussed.