Source-sink relationships in fruit species: A review

Main Article Content


Gerhard Fischer
Pedro José Almanza-Merchán
Fernando Ramírez



Fruit production and quality depend on adequate source-sink relationships. Carbohydrates (CH) translocated from leaves or reserve organs are the most important for the growth and development of sink organs (mainly fruits). Up to 60% of CH produced daily can be lost through respiration. Carbohydrates constitute over 65% of the dry matter of tree crops. Increasing the leaf-fruit ratio generally increases fruit growth and CH content. Photosynthesis increases with fruit load and the leaves next to fruits are strong sources for CH. The leaf-fruit ratio is species, cultivar and geographic location dependent. The optimal leaf area in various species is 200 cm2 per 100 g of fruit.



Additional key words: carbohydrates, translocation, starch, leaf-fruit ratio.

Article Details


The copyright of the articles and illustrations are the property of the Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Hortícolas. The editors authorize the use of the contents under the Creative Commons license Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). The correct citation of the content must explicitly register the name of the journal, name (s) of the author (s), year, title of the article, volume, number, page of the article and DOI. Written permission is required from publishers to publish more than a short summary of the text or figures.


Adams, C.R. and M.P. Early. 2004. Principles of horticulture. 4th ed. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, UK.

Agustí, M. 2004. Fruticultura. Ediciones Mundi-Prensa, Madrid.

Almanza-Merchán, P.J., G. Fischer, P.A. Serrano-Cely, H.E. Balaguera-López, and J.A. Galvis. 2011. The effects of leaf removal and cluster thinning on yield and quality of grapes (Vitis vinifera L., Riesling x Silvaner) in Corrales, Boyaca (Colombia). Agron. Colomb. 29(1), 35-42.

Arjona, C. y L.A. Santinoni. 2007. Poda de árboles frutales. pp. 243-282. In: Sozzi, G.O. (ed.). Árboles frutales, ecofisiología, cultivo y aprovechamiento. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.

Barceló, J., G.N. Rodrigo, B. Sabater, and R. Sanchez. 2000. Fisiología vegetal. Ed. Pirámide, Madrid.

Berkey, T.G., A.K. Mansfield, S.D. Lerch, J.M. Meyers, and J.E. Vanden Heuvel. 2011. Crop load adjustment in 'Seyval Blanc' winegrape: Impacts on yield components, fruit composition, consumer wine preferences, and economics of production. HortTechnol. 21(5), 593-598.

Blanke, M.M. and F. Lenz. 1989. Fruit photosyntheis - a review. Plant Cell Environ. 12, 31-46.

Brown, R.H. 1984. Growth of the green plant. pp. 153-174. In: Physiological basis of crop growth and development. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Madison,WI.

Cabezas, M. and D.L. Novoa. 2000. Efecto de la remoción de hojas y frutos en la relación fuente demanda de asimilados en lulo (Solanum quitoense). pp. 68-74. In: Proc. 3th Seminar Frutales de Clima Frío Moderado, Manizales, Colombia.

Cabezas-Gutiérrez, M. and C.A. Rodríguez. 2010. Técnicas hortícolas para optimizar el tamaño y la calidad del naranjo (Citrus sinensis L.). Agron. Colomb. 28, 55-62.

Casierra-Posada, F. y G. Fischer. 2012. Poda de árboles frutales. pp. 169-185. In: Fischer, G. (ed.). Manual para el cultivo de frutales en el trópico. Produmedios, Bogota.

Casierra-Posada, F., J.I. Rodríguez, and J. Cárdenas- Hernández. 2007. La relación hoja:fruto afecta la producción y la calidad del fruto en duraznero (Prunus persica L. Batsch, cv. Rubidoux). Rev. Fac. Nal. Agr. Medellin 60(1), 3657-3669.

Chacko, E.K., Y.T.N. Reddy, and T.V. Ananthanarayanan. 1982. Studies on the relationship between leaf number and area and development in mango (Mangifera indica L.). J. Hort. Sci. 57(4), 483-492.

Coleto, J.M. 1995. Crecimiento y desarrollo de las especies frutales. Ed. Mundi-Prensa, Madrid.

Daie, J. 1985. Carbohydrate partitioning and metabolism in crops. Hort. Rev. 7, 69-108.

Dennis, F.G. 1996. Fruit development. pp. 107-116. In: Maib, K.M., P.L. Andrews, G.A. Lang, and K. Mullinix (eds.). Tree fruit physiology: growth and development. Good Fruit Grower, Yakima, WA.

DeJong, T.M. and K. Ryugo. 1998. Carbohydrate assimilation, translocation, and utilization. pp. 109-114. In: Ramos, D.E. (ed.). Walnut production manual. UC ANR Publication 3373 ( University of California, Oakland, CA.

Dussi, M.C. 2007. Intercepción y distribución lumínica en agro-sistemas frutícolas. pp. 200-241. In: Sozzi, G. (ed.). Árboles frutales: ecofisiología, cultivo y aprovechamiento. Editorial Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.

Faust, M. 1989. Physiology of temperate zones fruit trees. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Fischer, G. 1995. Effect of root zone temperature and tropical altitude on the growth, development and fruit quality of cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.). Ph.D. thesis. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin.

Fischer, G. 2005. Aspectos de la fisiología aplicada de los frutales promisorios en cultivo y poscosecha. Rev. Comalfi 32(1), 22-34.

Fischer, G. 2011. La relación hoja/fruto en especies frutícolas. pp. 40-53. Proc. 4th Colombian Congress of Horticulture, Palmira, Colombia.

Fischer, G., F. Beran, and Ch. Ulrichs. 2008. Partitioning of non-structural carbohydrates in the fruiting cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.) plant. p. 145. In: Book of abstracts, Tropentag 2008. Stuttgart-Hohenheim, Germany.

Fischer, G., F. Casierra-Posada, and C. Villamizar. 2010. Producción forzada de duraznero (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) en el altiplano tropical de Boyacá (Colombia). Rev. Colomb. Cienc. Hortíc. 4(1), 19-32.

Fischer, G. and P. Lüdders. 1997. Developmental changes of carbohydrates in cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.) fruits in relation to the calyx and the leaves. Agron. Colomb. 14(2), 95-107.

Flore, J.A. and A.N. Lakso. 1989. Environmental and physiological regulation of photosynthesis in fruit crops. Hort. Rev. 36, 111-157.

Friedrich, G. and M. Fischer. 2000. Physiologische Grundlagen des Obstbaues. Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart, Alemania.

George, A.P., R.J. Nissen, R.J. Collins, and T.S. Rasmussen. 1995. Effects of fruit thinning, pollination and paclobutrazol on fruit set and size of persimmon (Diospyros kaki L.) in subtropical Australia. J. Hort. Sci. 70, 477-484.

Gil, G.F. 2006. Fruticultura: La producción de fruta de climas templados y subtropical y uva de vino. Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago.

Goday, A. and M. Pagés. 2004. Proteínas de respuesta al estrés hídrico. 791-831. In: Reigosa, M., N. Pedrol, and A. Sánchez (eds.). La ecofisiología vegetal. Una ciencia de síntesis. Editoral Thomson, Madrid.

Goldschmidt, E.E. and A. Golomb. 1982. The carbohydrate balance of alternate bearing in citrus trees and the significance of reserves for flowering and fruiting. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 107, 206-208.

Guardiola, J.L. and A. García-Luis. 1993. Transporte de azúcares y otros asimilados. pp. 149-171. In: Azcón-Bieto, J. and M. Talón (eds.). Fisiología y bioquímica vegetal. McGraw-Hill Interamericana de España, Madrid.

Hansen, P. 1978. Blatt/Frucht-Verhältnisse, Assimilatverteilung und Fruchtentwicklung. Erwerbsobstbau 20, 228-231.

Hansen, P. 1982. Assimilation and carbohydrate utilization in apple. pp. 257-268. In: Proc. 21st Int. Hort. Cong. Vol. 1.

Herold, A. 1980. Regulation of photosynthesis by sink activity - the missing link. New Phytol. 86, 131- 144.

Ho, L.C. 1996. The mechanism of assimilate partitioning and carbohydrate compartmentation in fruit in relation to the quality and yield of tomato. J. Exp. Bot. 47, 1239-1243.

Iglesias, D.J., M. Cercós, J.M. Colmenero-Flores, M.A. Naranjo, G. Ríos, E. Carrera, O. Ruiz-Rivero, I. Lliso, R. Morillon, F.R. Tadeo, and M. Talón. 2007. Physiology of citrus fruiting. Braz. J. Plant Physiol. 19(4), 333-362.

Jackson, J.E. 1980. Light interception and utilization by orchard systems. Hort. Rev. 2, 208-267.

Khayat, E. and N. Zieslin. 1986. Effect of different night temperature regimes on the assimilation, transport and metabolism of carbon in rose plants. Physiol. Plant. 67, 608-613.

Kozlowski, T.T. and S.G. Pallardy. 1997. Physiology of woody trees. 2nd ed. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Kubo, T., I. Hohjo, and S. Hirat. 2001. Sucrose accumulation and its related enzyme activities in the juice sacs of Satsuma mandarin fruit from trees with different crop loads. Sci. Hortic. 91(3-4), 215-225.

Lakso, A.N. and J.A. Flore. 2003. Carbohydrate partitioning and plant growth. pp. 21-30. In: Baugher, T.A. and S. Singh (eds.). Concise encyclopedia of temperate tree fruit. Food Products Press, New York, NY.

Layne, D.R. and J.A. Flore. 1992. Photosynthetic compensation to partial leaf area reduction in sour cherry. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 117, 279-286.

Léchaudel, M., M. Jannoyer, and M. Génard. 2004. Effects of the leaf:fruit ratio on growth and partitioning of water and dry matter in mango fruit. Acta Hort. 645, 429-433.

Léchaudel, M. and J. Joas. 2007. An overview of preharvest factors influencing mango fruit growth, quality and postharvest behaviour. Braz. J. Plant Physiol. 19, 287-298.

Lenz, F. 2009. Fruit effects on the dry matter and carbohydrate distribution in apple tree. Acta Hort. 835, 21-38.

Malézieux, E., F. Cote, and D.P. Bartholomew. 2003. Crop environment, plant growth and physiology. pp. 69-107. In: Bartholomew, S.P., R.E. Paull, and K.G. Rohrbach (eds.). The pineapple: Botany, production and uses. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.

Marschner, P. (ed.). 2012. Marschner's mineral nutrition of higher plants. 3th ed. Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

Mazorra, M.F., A.P. Quintana, D. Miranda, G. Fischer, and B. Chaves. 2003. Análisis sobre el desarrollo y la madurez fisiológica del fruto de la uchuva (Physalis peruviana L.) en la zona de Sumapaz (Cundinamarca). Agron. Colomb. 21(3), 175-189.

Medina, C.I. 2003. Estudio de algunos aspectos fisiológicos del lulo (Solanum quitoense Lam.) en el bosque húmedo montaño bajo del oriente antioqueño. M.Sc. thesis. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin, Colombia.

Melgarejo, L.M. and G. Fischer. 2013. Ecophysiological response of cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana L.) to the environmental conditions of the Bogota Plateau (in preparation).

Myers, S.C. 2003. Training and pruning principles. pp. 339-345. In: Baugher, T.A. and S. Singha (eds.). Concise encyclopedia of temperate tree fruit. Food Products Press, New York, NY.

Ojima, M., F.A.C. Dall'Orta, W. Barbosa, A.F.C. Tombolata, and O. Rigitano. 1985. Alternate bearing in the persimmon cultivar Pomelo (IAC 6-22). Bragantia 44, 481-486.

Oliveira, C.M. y C.A. Priestley. 1988. Carbohydrate reserves in deciduous fruit trees. Hort. Rev. 10, 403- 430.

Orjuela, N. y E. Barreto. 2009. Determinación del área foliar óptima para el llenado de frutos en feijoa (Acca sellowiana Berg) en el clon Quimba 41. Undergraduate thesis. Agronomy Faculty. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.

Park, S.J. 2011. Dry weight and carbohydrate distribution in different tree parts as affected by various fruit-loads of young persimmon and their effect on new growth in the next season. Sci. Hortic. 130, 732-736.

Parra, G.S. 2003. Estudio de la relación fuente vertedero en tomate de árbol (Cyphomandra betacea). M.Sc. thesis. Agronomy Faculty, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota.

Petgen, M. 2007. Reaktion der Reben auf den Klimawandel. Schweiz. Zeitschr. Obst Weinbau 9, 6-9.

Rajan, S., R. Kumar, and S.S. Negi. 2001. Variation in canopy characteristics of mango (Mangifera indica L.) cultivars from diverse eco-geographical regions. J. Appl. Hort. 3(2), 95-97.

Sauer, E. and A. Baumann. 2007. Qualitätsoptimierung durch Entblätterung. In: linkurl_0_15_0_1.pdf; consulted: October 2011.

Schumacher, R. 1989. Die Fruchtbarkeit der Obstgehölze. Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.

Serrano, L.A.L., C.S. Marinho, C.P. Ronchi, I.M. Lima, M.V.V. Martins, and F.D. Tardin. 2007. Goiabeira 'Paluma' sob diferentes sistemas de cultivo, épocas e intensidades de poda de frutificação. Pesq. Agropec. Bras. 42(6), 785-792.

Taiz, L. and E. Zeiger. 2006. Plant physiology. 4th ed. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.

Turgeon, R. 1989. The sink-source transition in leaves. Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 40, 119- 138.

Urban, L., X. Le Roux, H. Sinoquet, S. Jaffuel, and M. Jannoyer. 2003. A biochemical model of photosynthesis for mango leaves: evidence for the effect of fruit on photosynthesis capacity of nearby leaves. Tree Physiol. 23, 289-300.

Wardlaw, I.A. 1990. The control of carbon partitioning in plants. New Phytol. 116, 341-381.

Westwood, M.N. 1993. Temperate-zone pomology. 3th ed. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Wolstenholme, B.N. and A.W. Whiley. 1989. Carbohydrate and phenological cycling as management tools for avocado orchards. SA Avocado Growers' Assoc. Yrb. 12, 33-37.

Zhou, L., D.A. Christopher, and R.E. Paull. 2000. Defoliation and fruit removal effects on papaya fruit production, sugar accumulation, and sucrose metabolism. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 125(5), 644-652.

Zufferey, V., F. Murisier, P. Vivin, S. Belcher, F. Lorenzini, J.L. Spring, and O. Viret. 2012. Carbohydrate reserves in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L. 'Chasselas'): the influence of the leaf to fruit ratio. Vitis 51, 103-110


Download data is not yet available.