Gibberellin is a plant hormone, which is commercially available and administered in plants to accelerate their growth and induce flowering. Along with auxins and cytokinins, gibberellins are the principal growth-promoting hormones found in plants. Gibberellins are the most aggressive growth promoting hormone in plants as they increase the inter-node spacing and promote flowering. Gibberellins also influence sex determination; pollen growth and tube growth in plants. Commercially, gibberellins are mostly administered in the form of gibberellic acid as it can be easily obtained in huge quantities from the fermentation process of the fungi Gibberella Fujikuroi.
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Gibberellic acids are also synthetically produced by pharmaceutical companies. The global consumption of gibberellic acid is about 60 tons. There are at least 136 types of identified naturally occurring gibberellins. Different types of gibberellins exhibit different functions and influence on different plants.
One of the major applications of gibberellins is to promote the growth in fruit crops, which leads to higher yield of fruits such as tomato, apple and grapes. Gibberellins are also used in sugarcane crop to increase the yield of sugar. The growth of sugarcane is inhibited during the winters, and application of gibberellins helps overcome the adverse effects of cool temperature on sugarcanes. It is extensively used in the beer brewing mechanism to stimulate barley malting process. A large portion of the seedless grapes produced in the United States are treated with gibberellins, which help in producing small fruits in compact clusters.
The artificially sprayed gibberellins substitute for the seeds which under natural circumstances would be the source for gibberellins in the plant. However, with repeated treatment with the hormone the rachis length as well as the fruit size increases substantially. Grape production is one of the main applications of gibberellins. It is also extensively used to produce cherries, as the hormone helps to increase the size as well as yield in the plants. Gibberellin A4 is applied on apple and pear trees. These fruits are often limited by biennial bearing, that is heavy crop bearing in one year often inhibits the flowering process in the subsequent year, and thereby limits productivity.
This phenomenon could be overcome through application of gibberellins A4 on the year exhibiting low yield, as the hormone promotes flowering and subsequently the tree bears fruit. Gibberellic acid is also applied on citric fruits based on their type. Fruits such as oranges and tangerines are treated with gibberellic acid in order to prevent rind-aging, and maintain the quality and appearance of the fruit. On the other hand lemons are treated with the hormone to enhance the size and induce ripening. The increasing demand for agricultural production is the primary driver of the market.
Although application of gibberellic acid in plants increases the product yield, it is the inorganic method of plant growth. The only restraint to the use of gibberellic acid is the growing popular consciousness about organic food. Application of gibberellins renders the product inorganic and thus limits the marketability of the fruits or vegetables to health conscious population. North America is the largest application region for gibberellic acid as most of the research and development is undertaken in this region. Europe is the second largest market for gibberellic acid in the world. The market size is relatively less in Asia Pacific, but owing to the huge population and shortage of quality food in some regions, this region has high potential to grow.
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Some of the companies involved in manufacturing gibberellic acid are Jiangsu Fengyuan Bioengineering Co., Ltd. Zhejiang Qianjiang Biochemical Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Pengteng Fine Chemical Co., Ltd among many others.