Fruit development was examined in two lines of Tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens) which had previously been selected for hard-to-pick persistent fruit (HP) or easy-to-pick (EP) fruit. Four plants of each line were grown under glass. Random selections of ten flowers of each line were tagged at three or four-day intervals until the first-tagged flowers were in the “mature red” harvest condition. At that point all samples were collected and paraffin-processed for anatomical examination. Cells in the separation zone were examined morphometrically to determine the rate of sclerenchyma differentiation. Although cells in both the central and peripheral regions of the separation zone become sclerified in both lines, sclereid differentiation is faster and more complete in the HP line. In both lines sclerenchyma in the peripheral zone matured significantly faster than sclerenchyma in the corresponding central zone. Although degree of sclerification may have some role in tenacity of the HP fruit to the subtending pedicel, it does not correlate strongly with detachment force, especially in the EP line.
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Vol. 109 • No. 1