Quantifying abortion rates of reproductive organs and effects of contributing factors using time-to-event analysis

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Time-to-event analysis, or survival analysis, is a method to analyse the timing of events and to quantify the effects of contributing factors. We apply this method to data on the timing of abortion of reproductive organs. This abortion often depends on source and sink strength. We hypothesise that the effect of source and sink strength on abortion rate can be quantified with a statistical model, obtained via survival analysis. Flower and fruit abortion in Capsicum annuum L., observed in temperature and planting density experiments, were analysed. Increasing the source strength as well as decreasing the sink strength decreased the abortion rate. The effect was non-linear, e.g. source strengths above 6 g CH2O per plant per d did not decrease abortion rates further. The maximum abortion rate occurred around 100 degree-days after anthesis. Analyses in which sink strength was replaced with the number of fruits in a specified age category had an equal or better fit to the data. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using survival analyses for this kind of data. The technique can also be used for other crops showing reproductive organ abortion (e.g. soybean (Glycine max L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)), but also on other event types like bud break or germination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-440
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • capsicum-annuum l.
  • fruit-development
  • sweet-pepper
  • survival analysis
  • yield components
  • sink strength
  • heat-stress
  • seed set
  • flower
  • age


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