MORPHOPHYSIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF PASSION FRUIT PLANTS FROM DIFFERENT PROPAGATION METHODS AND PLANTING SPACING
ABSTRACT: The passion fruit (Passiflora cincinnata Mast.) is a perennial and drought resistant species that represents a new alternative crop for small farmers in rainfed conditions. This study aimed to evaluate the vegetative and physiological development of passion fruit plants derived from two propagation methods and grown at varied planting spacing. The experiment was conducted from January to June of 2012, in the Universidade Estadual do Sudoeste da Bahia (State University from Southwestern Bahia), in Brazil. It was carried out in a randomized block design under a 2 x 3 factorial scheme, which consisted of two propagation methods (cutting and seeds) and three planting spacing distances within a row (1.5; 3.0 and 4.0 m), however, at same distance between rows (3.0 m), with four replicates and four plants per plot. Cuttings and seeds were sampled from adult plants pre-selected in native areas from Vitória da Conquista - BA, Brazil. Growth (stem diameter and leaf area) and physiological parameters (leaf chlorophyll content, leaf water potential before dawn, relative water content and leaf gas exchange) were assessed on the 90th, 120th and 150th day after transplanting of seedlings into the field (DAT). Based on our results, we concluded that despite plants propagated via cuttings showed most favorable water status, vegetative growth and photosynthetic capacity were lower whether compared to plants obtained from seeds.