New varieties of melon, which will be much sweeter and more nutritious than those presently grown, may soon be available in your neighboring markets.
Scientists with Texas AgriLife Research have mapped the melon genome with hundreds of DNA markers.
The researchers say that their work may make it easy for plant breeders to grow tastier and healthier melons.
"This will help us anchor down some of the desirable genes to develop better melon varieties. We can identify specific genes for higher sugar content, disease resistance and even drought tolerance," said Dr. Kevin Crosby, who completed the study with Drs. Soon O. Park and Hye Hwang. For the study, the Deltex ananas melon was crossed with a wild melon called TGR 1551.
Crosby revealed that over 100 of the offspring from that cross were grown in the AgriLife Research greenhouses at Weslaco.
The researcher further revealed that DNA was extracted from leaf tissue collected 21 days after planting, and results from those tests were integrated into partial maps created by other scientists.
In addition to the complete map, the researchers located genetic markers linked to fruit sugars, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and male sterility, which is useful for developing hybrid varieties.
The trio said that the genetic map would be helpful for future studies in identifying fruit sweetness, quality, size, shape, and resistance to disease.
A research article on the study has been published in the Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences.