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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 18:65-67 (article 31) 1995

A Multi-Viral Resistant Cultivar of Bottle Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria from Taiwan)

R. Provvidenti

Department of Pathology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, N.Y. 14456

According to Heiser (3) bottle gourd or calabash gourd (Lagenaria siceraria L.) in prehistoric times was exclusively cultivated throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of both hemispheres and in some regions of the temperate zone. It was used for food, medicine, floats, musical instruments and other artistic endeavors. Before the introduction of pottery, its dry fruits were used as containers for both liquid and dry material. Thus, the Latin name of this species seems to specify one of its important functions: Lagenaria from lagena = 'large flask' and siceraria from sicera = (for) 'strong drink'.

Bottle gourd is probably a native of Africa, from where it spread throughout the warm and temperate regions of the world, including the Americas. While some forms are edible, others are mainly grown as gourds for their hard-shelled fruits. They can vary in size, length and shape (club shaped, bottle shaped, globular, disk-like, and others). In the Mediterranean area, before the discovery of America, the edible types of this species were commonly eaten as is the present summer squash. In the last few centuries, the cultivated species of the genus Cucurbita have replaced bottle gourd in the highly evolved agricultural regions, but it is still preferred in developing countries, where it requires very limited care for fruit production. In the USA, fruits of bottle gourd can be found in some supermarkets and special vegetable stores, but they are more common in oriental vegetable markets.

As are the other cultivate cucurbits, bottle gourd is affected by viral diseases causing considerable reduction in the quantity and quality of its crops. Resistance to the most common viruses was found in some plant introductions (PI) of this species (2,4,5). One line from China (PI 391602 and another from India (PI 271353) exhibited resistance to four and five viruses, respectively (4). In a recent visit to Taiwan, we noted that a commonly cultivated cultivar ('Cow Leg') appeared to be free of viral infection in several localities of that island. In order to evaluate this cultivar, we obtained seeds from commercial sources and also from Dr. T-D Liou, Director of Tropical Horticultural Experiment Station, Fengshan, Taiwan.

Plants of 'Cow Leg' were tested with strains of cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), papaya ringspot virus, papaya pathotype (PRSV-P) and watermelon pathotype (PRSV-W) (ex WMV-1), squash mosaic virus (SqMV), tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV), tomato ringspot virus (TmRSV), watermelon mosaic virus 2 (WMV-2), and zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV). For each strain of the viruses, the cotyledons and first three leaves of 20 plants of 'Cow Leg' were mechanically inoculated twice. All the work was conducted in a greenhouse maintained at 27-30 C., where the plants were kept until reaching the 25-leaf stage. As is evident from the data presented in Table 1, except for one strain of CMV and three TmRSV, plants of 'Cow Leg' failed to show any systemic symptoms. Recovery tests and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) clearly demonstrated that inoculated leaves were infected, but viruses had failed to move systemically. Hence this cultivar is uniquely resistant to most of the strains of seven viruses that were collected in the USA, mainland China, Egypt, and Taiwan. Also under our field conditions, where CMV and WMV-2 are prevalent, 'Cow Leg' remained completely free of any viral infection.

Although 'Cow Leg' appears to be susceptible to TmSRV, resistance to this virus is available in PI 188809 (Philippines) and in PI 271353 (India) (4). A strain of cucumber green mottle virus was found to infect bottle gourd in Taiwan (!), but no culture of this virus was available to test 'Cow Leg'. In Taiwan, as well as in other tropical regions of the world, some diseases of bottle gourd are caused by whitefly transmitted viruses. However, little is known about their identity, and whether any resistance is available. Consequently, more studies should be conducted with his valuable cucurbit crop. 'Cow Leg' is probably one of the most popular cultivars grown in Taiwan, and because of its productivity, quality, and multi-viral resistance, it should be grown in the USA to supply fruit to oriental markets.

Table 1. Reaction of the multi-viral resistant Lagenaria siceraria 'Cow Leg' from Taiwan to: strains of: cucumber mosaic virus (CMV). papaya ringspot virus, papaya pathotype (PRSV-P); papaya ringspot virus, watermelon pathotype (PRSV-W), squash mosaic virus (SqMV), tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV), tomato ringspot virus (Tm RSV), watermelon mosaic virus 2 (WMV-2), and zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV).

Virus
Strain
Origin
Reaction
Virus
Strain
Origin
Reaction
CMV
93
California
S
TmRSV
NY
New York
S
CH
China
R
OH
Ohio
S
B*
New York
R
PA
Pennsylvania
S
C
New York
R
 
L-2
New Jersey
R
WNV-2
93
California
R
PRSV-W
FL-83
Florida
R
NJ
New Jersey
R
GE-88
Georgia
R
ROB
New York
R
MD
Maryland
R
TX
Texas
R
PRSV-P
TW
Taiwan
R
ZYMV
CY
Connecticut
R
FL
Florida
R
SqMV
A-II
Arizona
R
EGY
Egypt
R
NY
New York
R
CA
California
R
CH
China
R
TRSV
FL
Florida
R
TW-1
Taiwan
R
NY
New York
R
TW-2
Taiwan
R

R=Resistant; S=Susceptible; *=Legume strain.

Literature Cited

  1. Chen M-J., and S-M Wang. 1986. A strain of cucumber green mottle virus in bottlegourd in Taiwan. In: Plant virus diseases of horticultural crops in the tropics and subtropics. Food Fertiliz. Tech. Center for Asian and Pacific Region. Taiwan, Book Series 33:38-42.
  2. Gerber, R.S. 1978. Watermelon mosaic virus I and 2 in Queensland cucurbit crops. Australian J. Agr. Research 29: 1235-1245.
  3. Heiser, C.B. 1979. The Gourd Book. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 235.
  4. Provvidenti, R. 1981. Sources of resistance to viruses in Lagenaria siceraria. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rept. 4:38-39.
  5. Provvidenti, R. 1993. Resistance to viral diseases of cucurbits. In: Resistance to Viral Diseases of Vegetables: Genetics and Breeding. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon. pp. 8-43.
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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 15 December, 2009