Floral expression and pollen germination ability in productive mountain papaya (Vasconcellea pubescens A.DC.) orchards

Maria Angélica Salvatierra-González1*, and Constanza Jana-Ayala1
Mountain papaya (Vasconcellea pubescens A.DC.) is described as trioecious in the centers of origin of Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. However, under cultivation conditions in La Serena (30° S, 70° W), Chile, it is found to be dioecious and monoecious. The objective was to learn about the variations in floral expression of mountain papaya. Flowers from monoecious and dioecious plants were therefore identified and quantified during two seasons. In vitro pollen germination ability was also evaluated based on the factors of site, season, and plant sex. Monoecious plant inflorescences are polygamous; female and male flowers are observed, as well as bisexual flowers that are usually deformed. This condition allows them to be classified as an ambisexual plant. The existence of flowers of different sexes appears to depend on the season; the female dioecious plant is maintained as such, independently of climatic conditions. Pollen from male flowers, from both ambisexual and male plants, germinates 75% in summer, while germination decreases to 56% in spring (P ≤ 0.05). Flowering of female plants coincides with the permanent occurrence of male flowers in ambisexual plants, which ensures pollination without the need for male plants as pollinators in orchards. Based on this information, some management practices and possible lines of research about this species are proposed.
Keywords: Ambisexual, dioecious, monoecious, pollen, Vasconcellea candamarcensis, Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis or Carica pubescens.
1Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, INIA Intihuasi, Colina San Joaquín S/N, La Serena, Chile. *Corresponding author (asalvatierra@inia.cl).