Photosynthetic Limitation as a Factor Influencing Yield in Highbush Blueberries (Vaccinium Corymbosum) Grown in a Northern European Environment

Antonios Petridis, Jeroen van der Kaay, Elina Chrysanthou, Susan McCallum, Julie Graham, Robert D. Hancock (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
205 Downloads (Pure)


Published evidence indicates that nearly 60% of blueberry-producing countries experience yield instability. Yield is a complex trait determined by genetic and environmental factors. Here, using physiological and biochemical approaches, we tested the hypothesis that yield instability results from year-to-year environmental variation that limits carbon assimilation, storage and partitioning. The data indicate that fruit development depends primarily on the daily production of non-structural carbohydrates by leaves, and there is no accumulation of a starch buffer to allow continuous ripening under conditions limiting for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis was saturated at moderate light irradiance and this was mainly due to stomatal and biochemical limitations. In a dynamic light environment, photosynthesis was further limited by slow stomatal response to increasing light. Finally, labelling with 13 CO 2 at specific stages of fruit development revealed a relatively even distribution of newly assimilated carbon between stems, roots and fruits, suggesting that the fruit is not a strong sink. We conclude that a significant component of yield variability results from limitations in photosynthetic efficiency that are compounded by an inability to accumulate starch reserves in blueberry storage tissues in a typical northern European environment. This work informs techniques for improving agronomic management and indicates key traits required for yield stability in such environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3069-3080
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number12
Early online date24 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018


  • 13 CO 2 -labelling
  • Vaccinium
  • carbon assimilation
  • carbon storage
  • corymbosum
  • sink tissues
  • starch
  • yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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