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Ann Bot. 2019 Jan 3. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcy232. [Epub ahead of print]

Long proleptic and sylleptic shoots in peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) trees have similar, predetermined, maximum numbers of nodes and bud fate patterns.

Author information

Efficient Use of Water in Agriculture Program, Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA), Fruitcentre, Parc Cientific i Tecnològic Agroalimentari (PCiTAL), Lleida, Spain.
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.
UMR AGAP, Univ. Montpellier, CIRAD, INRA, SupAgro, Equipe Architecture et Fonctionnement des Espèces Fruitières, Montpellier, France.
CIRAD, UMR AGAP, Univ. Montpellier, Montpellier, France.


Background and Aims:

In peach (Prunus persica) trees, three types of shoots can be distinguished depending on the time of their appearance: sylleptic, proleptic and epicormic. On proleptic shoots, an average of ten phytomers are preformed in dormant buds prior to shoot growth after bud-break, whereas all phytomers are considered neoformed in sylleptic and epicormic shoots. However, casual observations indicated that proleptic and sylleptic shoots appear quite similar in number of phytomers and structure in spite of their different origins. The goal of this research was to test the hypothesis that both proleptic and sylleptic shoots exhibit similar growth characteristics by analysing their node numbers and bud fate patterns. If their growth characteristics are similar, it would indicate that the structure of both types of shoots is primarily under genetic rather than environmental control.


The number of phytomers and bud fate patterns of proleptic and sylleptic shoots of four peach cultivars grown in the same location (Winters, California) were analysed and characterized using hidden semi-Markov models. Field data were collected during winter 2016, just prior to floral bud-break.

Key Results:

Sylleptic shoots tended to have slightly fewer phytomers than proleptic shoots of the same cultivars. The bud fate patterns along proleptic and sylleptic shoots were remarkably similar for all the cultivars, although proleptic shoots started growing earlier (at least 1 month) in the spring than sylleptic shoots.


This study provides strong evidence for the semi-deterministic nature of both proleptic and sylleptic shoots across four peach cultivars in terms of number of phytomers and bud fate patterns along shoots. It is apparent that the overall structure of shoots with similar numbers of phytomers was under similar genetic control for the two shoot types. Understanding shoot structural characteristics can aid in phenotypic characterization of vegetative growth of trees and in providing a foundation for vegetative management of fruit trees in horticultural settings.


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