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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 16:35-36 (article 11) 1993

Cucumis Germplasm: 1992 Collection Expedition in India

J.D. McCreight, J.E. Staub, N.M. Koppar and U. Ch. Srivastava

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Agricultural Research Station, 1636 East Alisal Street, Salinas, CA 93905, USA; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA; National Board for Plant Genetic resources, Pusa, New Delhi-110012, INDIA

The government of India and the United States of America recently joined in a cooperative effort for: 1) the construction of modern germplasm storage facilities and establishment of a computerized germplasm database in India; 2) joint germplasm explorations in the two countries; and 3) the training of Indian scientists in the U.S. Most of the U.S. portion of the funding of this cooperative effort is from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USDA, Office of International Cooperative Development (OICD), a sister agency of USDA, ARS. The first cooperative effort of this program was a sunflower germplasm collection trip in the U.S. in 1992. The second cooperative effort was a Cucumis exploration trip in India which we undertook in October and November, 1992.

The primary objective of the Cucumis expedition was the collection of landraces pf cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and melon (Cucumis melo L.) Other cucurbits were also collected during the expedition. Collections were made in three states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh) immediately following the rainy season (July through September). Seeds were collected from cultivated and non-cultivated areas, vegetable markets (subji mundi) and from seed dealers. Though many samples were collected as fruit we were not always able to observe the plants or the growing areas. Whenever possible, notes were taiken at the collection site about the origin, description, anduse of the collections.

The expedition provided several surprises. Cucumber landraces were difficult to find due to 1) the timing of the expedition (i.e. too late in the year), 2) a five-year drought that had completely eliminated the stocks of landracesin some areas (e.g., Sri Ganganagar), and 3), the slow adoption of open-pollinated varieties available through local seed dealers. An overwhelming number of melons were found in fields and markets. There were differences in botanical nomenclatureof melon between the Indian and U.S. scientiests (1). All melons including Cucumis melo agrestis are used as fresh (salad), cooked (vegetable) or dried preparations in India.

Approximately 677 samples were collected. Of these, 665 were cucurbits (Table 1) and 12 were non-cucurbits. There were approximately 186 cucumber and 447 melon collections, and they fell into several sub-groups (Table 2). Exact numbers of each will be known afer discrepancies in the records have been resolved, and plants of some accessions have been observed.

These seeds will be available after they have been increased and properly documented (phenotypic and genotypic characterization) in the U.S. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database. To that end, tentative 1993 plans call for an increase of a portion of these cucumber and melon collections in the U.S. and a substantial parallel increase of the collections in India. Based on the success and cooperation of the 1992 exploration, a proposal has been submittd to USAID through ARS, OICD, for a second joint Cucumis collection exploration in southern India and the Himalayan foothills in the 1994 summer season (May-June).

Table 1. Number of cucurbit and non-cucurbit species collected in India during October and November, 1992.

Species
By State
Rajasthan Madhya Pradesh Uttar Pradesh Total
Cucurbit  

Citrullus sp.

7
7

Cucumis melo

301zy
146x
447

Cucumis sativus

104
63yw
18
185

Cucurbita maxima

1
1

Cucurbita moschata

4
4

Cucurbita pepo

3
2
1
6

Langenaria siceraria

4
 
4

Luffa acutangula

1
2
3

Luffa cylindrica

1
 
1

Momordica charentia

2
1
3

Momordica dioca

1
1

Praecitrullus sp.

2
2

Triconsanthea bracteata

1
 
1
Non-Cucurbit

Abelmoschus esculentus, okra

6
6

Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, cluster bean

1
1

Raphanus sativus, radish

1
1

Vigna unguiculata, cowpea

1
3

Zea mays, maize

3

zFive samples obtained in Rajasthan were collected by D.C. Bhander, Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan in Gujarat.
yOne sample could be a mixture of C. melo and C. sativus.
xFive samples could be mistures of C. melo and C. sativus.
wFour samples grown in Madhya Pradesh were purchased at a market in Rajasthan.

 
By State
Species
Rajastjan
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Total
Cucumis melo

agrestis

88z
73
161

flexuosus

7
12
19

momordica

194z
53y
247

not designated

12
8x
20
Cucumis sativus

land races

80
43yw
14
138

open pollinated varieties

23
21
4
48

zFive samples obtained in Rajasthan were collected by D.C. Bhander, Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan in Gujarat.
yOne sample could be a mixture of C. melo and C. sativus.
xFour samples could be mixtures of C. melo and C. sativus.
wFour samples grown in Madhya Pradesh were purchased at a market in Rajasthan.  

Literature Cited

  1. Munger, H.M. and R.W. Robinson. 1991. Nomenclature of Cucumis melo L. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 14:43-44.
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