Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Vegetables
Watermelon on the fast track


December 16, 2009
By ARS News Service

Topics

December 11, 2009 – Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are studying how
watermelons grow from tiny flowers to plus-size, market-ready produce in only
five weeks.




December 11, 2009 – Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are studying how
watermelons grow from tiny flowers to plus-size, market-ready produce in only
five weeks.  Their findings have
resulted in the first reported large-scale study that identified and
characterized key genes regulating watermelon growth and development. 

The researchers included plant geneticist Amnon Levi and plant
pathologist Pat Wechter at the ARS U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston,
S.C. Plant geneticist Karen Harris at the ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding
Research Unit in Tifton, Ga., plant geneticist Angela Davis at the ARS South
Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, Okla., and molecular
biologist Jim Giovannoni at the ARS Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and
Health in Ithaca, N.Y., also contributed to the research. 

Advertisment

Tissue was taken from watermelons at three distinct stages during
growth and ripening. 

Then the team analyzed RNA from all the tissue samples and used
the RNA to develop a library of genes called expressed sequence tags (ESTs),
which are unique gene segments involved in different aspects of development and
metabolism. 

The researchers found that these genes were active in metabolism,
cell growth, cell development, and transporting nutrients and other substances
across cell walls. The genes also came into play in cell division, cellular
communication, DNA copying, plant defense and stress response.  

The scientists also found a large number of ESTs that appear to be
modulated in the fruit during development and ripening. But they can't match
them up with any other known plant ESTs, so they may be unique to
watermelon. 

This information could benefit plant breeders and watermelon
producers alike. Since cultivated watermelons are not genetically diverse, they
are more vulnerable to pathogens and environmental stresses. So finding sources
of genetic resistance to watermelon diseases is essential to the continued
success of U.S. production.    

Results from this study were published in Biomed Central
Genomics. 

Read more about this research in the November/December 2009 issue
of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov09/watermelons1109.htm.

ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This research supports the USDA priority
of promoting international food security.


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*