Plants are subjected to numerous environmental stresses — drought, extreme temperatures and excess light can all affect plant growth and quality. Looking for methods to improve the quality of tomato plants, researchers at the University of Tennessee turned to abscisic acid (ABA), a plant hormone known to help plants acclimate to these types of severe environmental stresses. The research results and recommendations for growers were published in HortScience.
According to the study’s corresponding author Carl Sams, ABA can have a positive effect on nutritional fluxes in plants; for example, it can promote the uptake of calcium in tomato plants. Adequate levels of calcium in tomato fruit have positive effects on fruit quality — specifically firmness — while insufficient calcium uptake and movement in tomato plants can result in a disorder called blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot often occurs in plants that have an adequate calcium supply but are grown in challenging environmental conditions such as humidity, high light intensity and high temperatures, all of which inhibit transport of calcium to plants’ rapidly growing distal fruit tissue. Blossom-end rot can also occur when plants experience increased demand for calcium in the early stages of fruit development.
This summary appears in the March 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.