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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 4:24-26 (article 13) 1981

A New Plant Type in Cucumis melo L.

H. S. Paris, Z. Karchi, H. Nerson, M. Edelstein, A. Govers, and D, Freudenberg

Division of Vegetable Crops, Agricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya'ar Experiment Station, P. O. Haifa, Israel

Two plant types have been widely described in melon. The vine type is by far the more common, with all but a few cultivars being of this type. The short-internode type (2, 5) permits high plant populations per unit area, but is not yet important commercially. Both these types have a prostrate growth habit.

A third, less widely known, plant type exhibits upright, bushy growth until shortly after fruit set. Given the unfortunate use of the term "bush" in reference to the short-internode type, this new type is perhaps better referred to as "birdsnest" (3), in reference to the position of the fruits in the center of the plant. The "short-runnered" form described by Dyutin (4) may be similar material.

Plants of the birdsnest type are distinguished by three main features: compact growth, placement of fruits near the base of the plant, and uniform development and maturation of fruits. Five introductions reportedly fitting this description were made available to us: 'Persia 201' (P201), 'Persia 202' (P202), 'Persia 203' (P203), 'Persia 221' (P221), and 'Russia 5062' (R5062). P201, P202, and P203 were collected from Teheran, Iran, and P221 from Isfahan, Iran, in 1966 (7), and upon screening were described as having short internodes, fruits concentrated near the center of the plant and ripening uniformly, of poor eating quality, and highly susceptible to diseases (8). R5062 was kindly provided by Dr. D.W. Denna, who described it is a "birdsnest" type obtained from "a Russian plant breeder" (3).

These introductions were observed for several years in field trials at Newe Ya'ar (Yizre'el Valley, Northern Israel) followed by evaluation in a replicated field trial during the summer of 1979. Particular attention was paid to compactness of growth and closeness of fruits to the base of the plant. Data for concentration of fruit maturity were incomplete, due to disease infestations, which killed most of the plants before fruit maturity, P203 exhibited a spreading, prostrate growth and distant placement of fruits, and thus could not be considered as being of the birdsnest type. R5062 was not so compact as the remaining three introductions and its fruits were significantly farther from the center of the plant, though there was a significant difference in regard to the latter character between inbreds obtained from the original material. P201, P202, and P221 were equally desirable with regard to fruit position. However, P201 appeared to be somewhat less compact than P202 and P221. Observations of P201, P202 and P221 plants surviving to maturity supported the contention that fruits of individual plants ripen nearly simultaneously.

P201, P202, and P221 are vigorous, with large light green leaves, large seeds, and are andromonoecious. All three are highly susceptible to diseases. Fruits of P201 and P202 are round and have a heavy, coarse netting. Fruits of P221 are usually flat in shape, have fine netting, and a rind that turns bright yellow-orange when ripe. Flesh of P201 and P221 is orange and that of P202 segregates for orange and green. In all three accessions, fruit weight averages slightly over 1 kg, the seed cavity is large, flesh is this and low in sugar (3-4% soluble solids by refractometer), and the fruits decay quickly.

The short-internode type is reported to differ genetically from the vine type by a major recessive gene plus at least two modifiers (1, 2, 6). Dyutin (4) reported that his short-runnered form had a complex inheritance. Results of crossing P202 with vine type cultivars are also suggestive of a complex genetic control, but the relationship between P202 and Dyutin's material is not known. Crossing results indicate that it is possible to improve horticultural characteristics and lower disease susceptibility while maintaining birdsnest expression to a large degree. Development of cultivars combining birdsnest type with susceptible fruit characteristics may permit profitable once-over mechanized harvest.

Literature Cited

  1. Bohn, G. W. and J. A. Principe. 1968. Independent assortment of young plant characters in muskmelon, Cucumis melo L. Hortscience 3:95 (abstract).
  2. Denna, D. W. 1962. A study of the genetic, morphological, and physiological basis of the bush and vine habit of several cucurbits. Ph.D. Thesis, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY. Diss. Abstr. B23:1476.
  3. Denna, D. W. 1973. Correspondence (to ZK), September 11.
  4. Dyutin, K. E. 1975. Some problems in breeding short-runnered varieties of melon. Sb. nauch. tr. VNII oroshaem. Ovoschev, i bakhchev. No. 3/4, 255-258 (in Russian), cf. Refer. Zhurnal 4,55.318 (in Russian), cf. Plant Breed. Abstr. 48:824.
  5. Mohr, H. C. and D. E. Knavel. 1966. Progress in the development of short-internode (bush) cantaloupes. HortScience. 1:16.
  6. Rudich, J. 1969. Genetic and hormonal control of internode length in melons. M.S. Thesis, Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem, Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot, Israel.
  7. Slomnicki, I., A. Stein, and J. Nothmann. 1966. Exploration, collection and screening of indigenous and local varieties of vegetable crops cultivated in Turkey and Iran. Second Advance Report submitted to the Ford Foundation, Project No. 5/A4. The Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research, Bet Dagan, Israel.
  8. Slomnicki, I., A. Stein, and J. Nothmann. 1968. Exploration, collection and screening of indigenous and local varieties of vegetable crops cultivated in Turkey and Iran. Final Report submitted to the Ford Foundation, Project No. 5/A4. The Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research, Bet Dagan, Israel.

This research is supported by a grant from the United States-Israel (Binational) Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD).

Contribution No. 356-E, 1980 series, from the Agricultural Research Organization, Bet Dagan, Israel.

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