Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative
Other Crop Genetics Cooperatives
Home About Membership Reports Gene Lists Conferences Links Search NCSU
Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 18:68-68 (article 32) 1995

Growth Regulator Effects on Sex Expression of Luffa Sponge Gourd

Todd C. Wehner and Tammy L. Ellington

Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Luffa sponge gourd (Luffa aegyptiaca Mill) is increasingly popular in North Carolina for use in cosmetics and cleaning products. We are interested in developing luffa cultivars suited to industry in the southeast U.S. However, most of the cultivars and breeding lines we are working with are monoecious. In order to make hybrid production easier. we would like to make the plants gynoecious. Sex expression of another cucurbit, the cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), can be altered using growth regulators to increase the percentage of pistillate flowers (1) or the percentage of staminate flowers (2). Our objective was to study the effects of the growth regulator, ethephon, on sex expression in luffa sponge gourd.

Seeds of 'Fletcher' luffa were planted on raised, shaped beds in the field on 20 May 1993. Plants were supported by a trellis 1.8 m high. The experiment was a randomized complete block design with 12 replications of 5 plants per plot. Ethephon was sprayed onto seedlings when they reached the first true leaf stage at a rate of 100 mg/L (+4 drops Tween-20) until runoff. Ethephon was applied 1 time (1st true leaf stage) or 2 times (1st and 3rd true leaves) or 0 times for the control.

Traits measured were percentage of seeds that emerged as seedlings (counted at the 1st true leaf stage), percentage of the total flowers that were pistillate in the first 20 nodes, total number of fruits per plot at harvest (5 October) and percentage of fruits that were marketable (total - cull - immature) or early (total - immature). Data were analyzed using the general linear models procedures of SAS.

Seedlings treated with ethephon had no change in sex expression (Table 1). If anything, there was a slight (but non-significant) trend for a smaller percentage of pistillate flowers as the number of ethephon applications was increased. In cucumber, ethephon applications used in this experiment would result in plants that had more than 90% pistillate flowers.

The only significant effect observed in this experiment was for a lower percentage of early fruits in the treatment receiving 1 application of ethephon. We were unable to explain that effect, but ethephon may cause some plant injury after application. In conclusion, none of the ethephon treatments affected the percentage of pistillate flowers in 'Fletcher' luffa. Perhaps sex expression can be modified with different concentrations of numbers of applications of ethephon, or with other growth regulators.

Table 1. Ethephon treatment of luffa sponge gourd for attempted alteration of sex expression.z

No. ethephon applications
% emergence
% pistillate nodes
Total fruits/plot
% marketable
% early
0
63
21
10
70
60
1
65
20
10
60
42
2
59
18
11
66
51
Mean
63
20
11
66
51
LSD (5%)
12
7
3
16
14
CV (%)
22
39
29
29
33

z Data are means of 12 replications of 5 plants per plot.

Literature Cited

  1. McMurray, A.L., and C.H. Miller. 1968. Cucumber sex expression modified by 2-Chloroethanephosphonic acid. Science 162:1396-1397.
  2. Pike, L.M. and C.E. Peterson. 1968. Gibberellin A4/A7 for induction of staminate flowers on the gynoecious cucumber. Euphytica 18: 106-109.
Home About Membership Reports Gene Lists Conferences Links Search NCSU
Department of Horticultural Science Box 7609North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NC 27695-7609919-515-5363
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