Abortion of reproductive organs in sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L.): a review

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Levels of abortion of reproductive organs (i.e., buds, flowers, and young fruits) in sweet pepper plants (Capsicum annuum L.) are high, and cyclical fluctuations occur in fruit set. Stages susceptible to abortion are very young buds (<2.5 mm), buds close to anthesis, and flowers and fruits up to 14 d after anthesis. An overview of factors and processes involved in flower and fruit abortion in sweet peppers is presented. More light, higher CO2 concentrations, and lower planting density, increase the availability of assimilates per plant, and decrease fruit abortion. The cyclical pattern in fruit set is caused by changes in demand for assimilates. High flower abortion occurs when fast growing fruit (at approx. 3 weeks after anthesis) are present, due to competition for assimilates. Fruit set increases when fast growing fruit are almost mature and have a low assimilate demand. Prior to abortion, auxin export from the reproductive organ diminishes, ethylene production increases, and lower levels of activity of sucrose-cleaving enzymes are found. Severe water stress and low nutrient supply also increase abortion levels. Low night- and high day-time temperatures hamper pollen development, causing low seed set, which can result in fruit abortion. Two theories have been used to explain abortion: unbalanced demand for and supply of assimilates, and hormonal dominance of developing fruit over young fruit. Attempts to prevent abortion or to diminish the cyclical pattern of fruit set have not yet been successful, but new suggestions are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-475
JournalJournal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • blossom-end rot
  • cell-separation processes
  • low night temperatures
  • flower bud abscission
  • stress-induced bud
  • bell pepper
  • fruit-set
  • greenhouse tomato
  • elevated-temperature
  • indoleacetic-acid


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