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Modelling Variability in the Branching Structure of Strawberry Inflorescences

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The branching structure of inflorescences of the cultivated strawberry (Fragaria×ananassa Duch.) is very variable. This paper demonstrates that some aspects of this variability are well described by a simple stochastic model of branching that has two adjustable parameters. The model is shown to provide a good fit to data from a set of almost 700 inflorescences of the cultivar Elsanta, collected over two successive years. For one parameter the maximum likelihood estimator is a moment estimator which is fully efficient even if the detailed branching structure of the inflorescences is not recorded. This parameter provides a convenient summary of branching vigour. The maximum likelihood estimator of the second parameter must be determined iteratively and can be quite inefficient unless the full branching structure is recorded. The model demonstrates that branching structure is affected by the order in which inflorescences emerge on the plant.
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Keywords: Correlated Bernoulli random variables; EM algorithm; Efficiency loss; Explicit estimate; Fragaria×ananassa; Maximum likelihood estimation; Models for branching structure

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Horticulture Research International, West Malling, UK, 2: University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Publication date: 1999-01-01

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