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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 15:48-50 (article 16) 1992

Interactive Microcomputer Database for Identification of Cucumis

Joseph H. Kirkbride, Jr.

USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory, Building 265, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore Boulevard, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350 U.S.A.

Recently a taxonomic monograph (11) of the genus Cucumis Linnaeus (Cucurbitaceae), as it has been circumscribed since its inception (2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15), was completed. Two subgenera, two sections, six series, 32 species, six subspecies, and two varieties were recognized in the genus.One selection, give series, and four species were presented as new, and two new combinations and new statuses and one new name were proposed. The taxonomic history, morphology, cucurbitacins, flavonoids, isozymes, DNA, cytology, and crossability of the genus were summarized. Each taxon was presented with a morphological description, synonyms, distribution, and pertinent discussion. Single entry keys to the subgenera, sections, series, species and infraspecific taxa were provided. Six hundred and fifty synonymous names are cited of which 522 are referred to C. melo and 70 to C. sativus. Nineteen doubtful names were cited, and 52 scientific names were excluded from the genus. Lists of the morphological characters scored and of the herbarium specimens critically examined were included.

Morphological, cytological, and macro-distributional data were stored on a microcomputer in DELTA format (4, 6, 7, and 16). The DELTA format was chosen because the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases in Plant Sciences (TDWG) has designated it as the standard format for exchange of descriptive plant data (1) and because it is compact and allows comments and ranges of data to be entered. The DELTA system (4, 5, 7, and 16) for microcomputers was used to maintain the data and transform it into descriptions and various formats for single-entry key production, interactive querying, and phenetic and cladistic analyses. The descriptions and single-entry keys in the Cucumis monograph were produced using the DELTA system. Also, the descriptive data in DELTA format was transformed into a suitable format for interactive querying using Dallwitz's INTKEY program, version 3.0.

The MS-DOS diskette accompanying report number 15 of the Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative (CGC) contains two self-uncompressing files, CUCUMIS.EXE and INTKEY30.EXE. The Cucumis database is contained in CUCUMIS.EXE. The expanded database is 180 kilo bytes in size, and the expanded software is 350 kilo bytes. They can be installed either on a hard disk or dual floppy diskettes of an IBM compatible microcomputer. For hard disk installation, follow the instructions in the next paragraph and skip the following one, and for floppy diskette installation, skip the next paragraph and go to the following one.

To install the Cucumis database and INTKEY on a hard disk, create an appropriately named directory on the hard disk, and change to the newly created directory, making it the default directory. Place the diskette accompanying CGC report number 15 in drive A, type A:\INTKEY30 at the DOS prompt, and press enter. The file will decompress itself and install INTKEY in the default directory. Repeat the preceding process with A:\CUCUMIS. If the CGC diskette must be used in drive B: instead, substitute B: for A:. To start the program and access the Cucumis database, type INTKEY at the DOS prompt and press enter.

To install the Cucumis database and INTKEY on floppy diskettes, place a formatted, empty diskette in drive A:/ and change to drive A:, making it the default drive. Place the diskette accompanying CGC report number 15 in drive B. Type B:\INTKEY30 at the DOS prompt and press enter. The file will decompress itself and install INTKEY on the default drive. Repeat the preceding process with B:\CUCUMIS. If the CGC diskette must be used in drive A: instead, substitute A: for B:. To start the program, place the diskette containing the Cucumis database and INTKEY program in drive A:, change to drive A:, and type INTKEY at the DOS prompt and press enter.

As INTKEY starts, it will scroll through its name, version, author, and information on the Cucumis database. Highlighted bars at the top and bottom of the screen mark off the INTKEY window in which commands and material generated by the program are displayed. Commands may be typed on the command line directly below the bottom highlighted bar, or they can be selected from the pull-down menus. The bottom highlighted bar is the prompt line giving a brief summary of what can be typed at the current stage. The highlighted bar at the top of the screen is the function line and indicates some of the keys available at the current point in the program to carry out various functions. Single keys are indicated on the right-hand end of the function line, and keys used in combination with the ALT key at the left-hand end of the line. An arrow pointing down on the function line indicates that the down-arrow or PAGE-DOWN keys can be used to scroll through material in the window, and an arrow pointing up means that the up-arrow or PAGE-UP keys can be used. The ALT+M key combination is used to display the pull-down commands menu, and ALT+H displays helpful information about the current activity function, or command. The ESC key can be pressed at any time to discontinue scrolling through material in the window, to close a pull-down menu, or to abort the current command. To exit from INTKEY, select QUIT from the commands menu, or type 'quit' on the command line and press enter.

When the INTKEY program is started, its defaults are set for the identification of specimens. Examine the specimen to be identified, and determine what its characteristics are. If you are unsure what characters are available in the database, call the commands menu (press the ALT+M key combination), use the cursor arrows to place the highlighted area on the command CHARACTERS, and press the enter key twice. A complete list of the characters will appear in the window to be scrolled through. If a particular structure is present, such as a fruit, then call the commands menu and use FIND. Select CHARACTERS, then type the letters "fruit" on the command line and press enter. All characters in which the letters "fruit" appear will be listed. A third method is to call the commands menu and use BEST. This will list the characters in the order of their separating powers; those with larger values are more useful in separating the remaining taxa. After selecting a character, type its number and press enter. For a numeric character, a window will appear describing it. The value or range of values should be typed on the command line and enter pressed. For multistate characters, a pull-down menu will appear with its states. If the specimen has a single state for the character, move the highlighted area to that state and press enter. If the specimen has more than one state for the character, move the highlighted area to each state of the specimen one-by-one and press space for each state, and then press enter. Only those taxa possessing the selected character states will be considered as additional characters and their states are selected. Finally a single taxon will remain. Call the commands menu, and use DESCRIBE to generate a complete description of the remaining taxon to verify the identification if the specimen. To do another identification, call the commands menu and use RESTART to reinitialize INTKEY to do the next identification.

To query the database for information about the taxa, the defaults should be reset. Call the commands menu and use SET. A second pull-down menu of subcommands will appear; select MATCH, and set it to OVERLAP. To discover what characters are available, use the techniques described in the preceding paragraph. For example, to know what taxa occurring in Ethiopia have aculeate fruits, type '230', native distribution in Africa by country, on the command line and press enter, and select Ethiopia from the pull-down menu. Next type '208', presence or absence of aculei on the surface of the fruit, on the command line, and select aculeate on the pull-down menu. The program reports that 11 taxa remain, i.e., there are 11 taxa in Ethiopia with aculeate fruit. To see which taxa remain, type 'taxa rem' on the command line and press enter, and the 11 taxa will be listed in the window. To do another query, call the commands menu and use RESTART to reinitialize INTKEY to do the next query.

INTKEY is a flexible program rich in useful commands; its capabilities are only limited by the imagination of the user. To learn more about INTKEY, put the CGC diskette in drive A:, type A:/LIST INTKEY.DOC at the DOS prompt and press enter. LIST is a shareware utility for browsing through ASCII files. The cursor keys and PAGE-UP and -DOWN keys move through the document, the '?' key is for help, and the ESC key exits from LIST. Both programs are shareware, i.e., they can be distributed freely with their documentation. If you seriously use them, please follow the instructions in their documentation for compensating their authors.

Literature Cited

  1. Bisby, F.A. 1988. International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases in Plant Sciences (TDWG), Report on the Fourth Meeting at Missouri Botanical Garden, 4-6 October 1988.
  2. Cogniaux, A. 1881. Cucurbitaceae. In Monogr. Phan., eds. A.L.P.P. de Candolle and A.C.P. de Candolle, 3: 325-951, 953-954. Paris: G. Masson.
  3. Cogniaux, A. and H, Harms. 1924. Cucurbitace-Cucurbiteae-Cucumerinae. In Pflanzenr., ed. A. Engler, heft 88. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.
  4. Dallwitz, M.J. 1974. A flexible computer program for generating identification keys. Syst. Zool. 23: 50-57.
  5. Dallwitz, M.J. 1980. A general system for coding taxonomic descriptions. Taxon 29: 4-46.
  6. Dallwitz, M.J. 1991. Draft definition of the DELTA format. DELTA newsletter 7: 1-6.
  7. Dallwitz, M.J., and T.A. Paine. 1986. User's guide to the DELTA system - a general system for processing taxonomic descriptions, ed. 3. CSIRO Austral. Div. Entomol Rep. 13: 1-106.
  8. Jeffrey, C. 1967. Cucurbitaceae. In Fl. Trop. East Africa, eds. E. Milne-redhead and R,M. Polhill. Crown Agents for Oversea governments and Administrations.
  9. Jeffrey, C. 1980. A review of the Cucurbitaceae. J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 81: 233-247.
  10. Jeffrey, C. 1990. Systematics of the Cucurbitaceae: An overview. In Biology and utilization of the Cucurbitaceae, eds. D.M. Bates, R.W. Robinson, and C, Jeffrey, pp. 3-9, 449-463. Ithica: Cornell University Press.
  11. Kirkbride, J.H., Jr. 1992. Monograph of the genus Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae). Mem. New York Bot. Gard., in press.
  12. Linnaeus, C. 1753. Sp. pl. ed. 1. Stockholm: Impensis Laurentii Salvii.
  13. Linnaeus, C. 1754. Gen. pl. ed. 5. Stockholm: Impensis Laurentii Salvii.
  14. Meeuse, A.D.J. May 1962. The Cucurbitaceae of southern Africa. Bothalia 8 (1): 1-111.
  15. Naudin, C.V. 1859. Essais d'une monographie des espeeces et des varietes du genre Cucumis. Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot., ser. 4, 11: 5-87.
  16. Partridge, T.R., M.J. Dallwitz, and L. Watson. 1991. A PRimer for the DELTA System on MS-DOS and VMS, ed. 2.2. CSIRO Austral. Div. Entomol. Rep. 38: 1-20.
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Page citation: Wehner, T.C., Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative;
Created by T.C. Wehner and T. Ng, 1 June 2005; design by C.T. Glenn;
send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 1 August, 2007