Progressive inhibition of fruit development by carpic dominance in Cucumber. The eldest fruit (left) inhibits the growth of fruit 2, causes arrest of growth on fruit 3 and causes immediate senescence of fruit 4

It is relatively well-known that branches can inhibit the growth of other branches – so-called ‘apical dominance’. It is less well-known that fruit also exert dominance, and can inhibit the growth of other fruit. This ‘carpic dominance’ can result in a whole spectrum of effects, ranging from mild growth inhibition to the complete abscission of the ‘dominated’ fruit. Carpic dominance prevents plants from over-investing in fruit, which is a sound evolutionary strategy in wild plants. However, this phenomenon causes yield losses – both potential and actual – in crop species. We aim to understand the molecular mechanisms behind carpic dominance, using a range of approaches. Arabidopsis displays very very weak carpic dominance, so one of the main tasks we need to do is to identify a good model species for this process!

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