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Optimizing KIWIfruit QUALIty through estimation of leaf stomatal conductance from sap flux density

Project description

Optimising kiwifruit irrigation using its physiological indicators of water status

Kiwifruit plants regulate their own internal water supply. They have adopted a physiologic strategy to maintain leaf water potential, even under drought conditions, which is called isohydric strategy. This involves closing their stomata, the tiny openings in their leaves, to limit water loss. Irrigation is currently done empirically without understanding of its impact on yields and water use efficiency. Stomatal conductance, a measure of the degree of stomatal opening, is a promising indicator of plant water status. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the KIWIQUALI project will develop a model to estimate stomatal conductance in kiwifruit based on sap flux measurement to improve irrigation management and fruit quality.


Most fruit crop irrigation scheduling is performed on empirical basis, with very little or no awareness of the consequences on yields and on water use efficiency. The main objective of this project is to obtain a model for the estimation of stomatal conductance through sap flux measurement in Actinidia, allowing assessment of plant’s water status and correct management of irrigation, while optimizing fruit quality. This goal will be reached through the following specific objectives: (i) to adjust models for estimation of leaf stomatal conductance of kiwifruit trees from measurements of sap flux density and atmospheric vapor pressure deficit; (ii) to understand which irrigation level optimizes fruit quality and productivity; (iii) to develop precision irrigation protocols based on stomatal conductance estimation. This project will lead to innovative results as it will (i) provide a model to estimate leaf stomatal conductance on an isohydric, drought sensible crop (kiwifruit) with high hydraulic conductance, allowing to understand the hydraulic limitations and physiological responses of one of the most water requiring crops; (ii) improve understanding on how a different plant water status and physiological performance at source level affects fruit yield and quality, and; (iii) provide a tool to optimize irrigation scheduling of Actinidia, based on estimated leaf stomatal conductance. While reaching these scientific objectives, Dr. Fernandes will acquire: (i) research skills by leading the project and being involved in the preparation of further proposal; (ii) teaching skills, by holding seminars and tutoring Master’s students; and (iii) networking skills, by participating at several meeting national and international working groups as well as through a strong interaction with stakeholders. The exploitation of results will be maximized by foreseen open access results and a wide range of dissemination and communication tools adapted to different target groups.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 172 750,08
40126 Bologna

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Nord-Est Emilia-Romagna Bologna
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Partners (2)