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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Charleston, South Carolina » Vegetable Research » Research » Research Project #443793

Research Project: Utilizing the desert and citron watermelon to enhance abiotic stress tolerance in watermelon cultivars

Location: Vegetable Research

Project Number: 6080-21000-020-004-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2022
End Date: Aug 30, 2025

The main objective of the proposed research is to utilize the genetic diversity that exists in the USDA watermelon germplasm to enhance drought tolerance in watermelon cultivars. To identify gene loci and develop molecular markers associated with drought tolerance in watermelon. Develop breeding lines useful for incorporating gene loci conferring drought tolerance into the genome of elite watermelon cultivars.

We will evaluate genetic populations derived from a cross of the desert watermelon Citrullus colocynthis and citron watermelon Citrullus amarus with watermelon cultivars. The genetic populations will be evaluated for drought tolerance in greenhouse/growth chambers at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC. In addition, a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population will be used in a 'genomic selection' study at the Central Valley, California in collaboration with the extension people of UC Davis. The populations will be extensively phenotyped for drought tolerance and fruit quality traits and genotyped genome sequencing. The data will be used in 'genomic selection' analysis. Machine learning models will be built for the training population to generate marker effects and genome-wide estimated breeding values (GEBVs). A set of idiotypes with drought tolerance and desirable fruit quality traits will be selected and used in the development of a testing population, and in further development of drought tolerant watermelon lines with sufficient fruit qualities.