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Deciphering the Costs of Reproduction in Mango – Vegetative Growth Matters

  • Capelli, Mathilde1
  • Lauri, Pierre-Éric2
  • Normand, Frédéric1
  • 1 CIRAD, UPR HortSys, Saint-Pierre, ReunionIsland, France
  • 2 Inra, UMR System, Montpellier, France
Published Article
Frontiers in Plant Science
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Oct 21, 2016
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01531
  • Plant Science
  • Original Research


Irregular fruit production across successive years is a major issue that limits the profitability of most temperate and tropical fruit crops. It is particularly affected by the reciprocal relationships between vegetative and reproductive growth. The concept of the costs of reproduction is defined in terms of losses in the potential future reproductive success caused by current investment in reproduction. This concept, developed in ecology and evolutionary biology, could provide a methodological framework to analyze irregular bearing in fruit crops, especially in relation to the spatial scale at which studies are done. The objective of this study was to investigate the direct effects of reproduction during a growing cycle on reproduction during the following growing cycle and the indirect effects through vegetative growth between these two reproductive events, for four mango cultivars and during two growing cycles. Two spatial scales were considered: the growth unit (GU) and the scaffold branch. Costs of reproduction were detected between two successive reproductive events and between reproduction and vegetative growth. These costs were scale-dependent, generally detected at the GU scale and infrequently at the scaffold branch scale, suggesting partial branch autonomy with respect to processes underlying the effects of reproduction on vegetative growth. In contrast, the relationships between vegetative growth and reproduction were positive at the GU scale and at the scaffold branch scale in most cases, suggesting branch autonomy for the processes, mainly local, underlying flowering and fruiting. The negative effect of reproduction on vegetative growth prevailed over the positive effect of vegetative growth on the subsequent reproduction. The costs of reproduction were also cultivar-dependent. Those revealed at the GU scale were related to the bearing behavior of each cultivar. Our results put forward the crucial role of vegetative growth occurring between two reproductive events. They are discussed in the context of irregular bearing considering both the spatial scale and the various bearing habits of the mango cultivars, in order to formulate new hypotheses about this issue.

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