What is the best indicator of the assimilate balance?
Added on 05 May 2023
Measuring the sugar content of a crop is possible, but the result says little about the balance between production and use of sugars. While that balance is essential for the production and quality of the crop. For example, a lack of sugars can cause fruits to die or the crop to produce fewer flowers. A surplus of sugars can cause the crop to put a lot of energy into producing a thick stem, for example.
WUR is therefore looking for indicators that provide insight into the assimilate balance and rapid tests to measure it accurately. One of the possibilities is to measure gene expression. This checks whether a specific gene of the crop is 'on', for example a 'hunger gene'. This could be measured, for example, with a PCR test. Another possibility is measuring the content of specific proteins: for example, the production of some enzymes tells a lot about the assimilate balance. In addition, WUR is investigating whether the balance can be measured with a so-called hyperspectral camera.
Photo Courtesy of Wageningen University & Research