University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - Creating a Multi-Berry Shrub via Cross Grafting
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Creating a Multi-Berry Shrub via Cross Grafting

By: Alexa Laurent | Mentor: Dr. Rani Vajravelu

Introduction

Grafting, the process of inserting a cut branch or stem from one plant into a different plant, is a method that has been used often throughout the years. A reference to grafting goes back as far as Ancient Rome.  Romans used grafting with walnut and apple trees, they would graft new stalks onto previously barren trees via a process of combining a scion with the tree (Lowe, 2010).  A scion is a branch or cutting from a plant that is taken and transplanted onto a branch or stem of a new plant, called the base plant or rootstock.  This process can be used on plants of almost any age and size.  The only limitation found so far is that grafting must be done with plants that are of similar genetic makeups and with plants from the same scientific family (Couts, 1910).  The process of grafting is useful because it allows plants to produce a larger quantity of fruits and produce fruits that may not be able to grow on their own base plant in different environments.

In addition, grafting is used to help prevent product loss to disease and environmental stress (Bilderback, 2014; Qing, 2015).  Depending on the method, growers can also use grafting to provide more benefits to the plant.  For example, double grafting, which is the process of adhering an intermediate plant to a younger rootstock, is used to increase yield by grafting among the same species, this is exhibited with mango, a type of mango that has a good yield is grafted onto a base that has better resistance, in order to increase the overall net gain of the grower and increase the plants’ survival rate (Singh, 1980).  Grafting can also be used to optimize the amount of available growing space for urban growers.  Along with an increase in development, there has been a corresponding decrease in green space available for plants.  By using grafting, an urban grower can produce multiple kinds of fruit and vegetables by using fewer resources and requiring less space, as well as increasing the yield and durability of other combinations (Koepke, 2013).

A large amount of the overall research into the study of grafting has been done with fruit trees (Bar-Joseph, 2011; Das, 2000; Loehle, 1990; Ma, 1996; Shah, 2016; Singh, 1980).  Grafting has been found not only to provide better fruit yields but also longer harvest times, increased disease resistance, and enhanced nutrient uptake (Lee, 1994).  Many studies have compared different grafting methods along with pre-grafting procedures to see which method or treatment produces the most fruit yield to greater increase fruit production, and optimize the time and resources spent on the plant (Yildaz, 2003).  With this background in mind, this study aims to increase the success rate of the graft on a plant by testing not the grafting method or a pre-treatment plan, but the rootstock’s ability to support the scion and to heal the wound inflicted by grafting.  Specifically, this study tests if the characteristics of the base plant can affect the healing of the graft onto the base plant.  We focus on the healing of the graft, because, if the plant does not accept the scion and integrate it into the branch, the benefits of the graft will not occur.

To test which physiology will better support the scion, we utilized two different shrubs of the same family, one of which had a woodier stem to see if the sturdier base causes any change in how well the scion takes to the rootstock.  We hypothesize that the hardier, woody stem will better support the scion during the healing process and the woodier base will provide a better environment for the graft to adhere to the rootstock.

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