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Title: Tolerance of select watermelon plant introductions (PI) to watermelon vine decline in Florida

item Kousik, Chandrasekar - Shaker
item Adkins, Scott

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/30/2007
Publication Date: 7/2/2007
Citation: Kousik, C.S., Adkins, S.T., Roberts, P.D. 2002. Tolerance of Select Watermelon Plant Introductions (PI) to Watermelon Vine Decline in Florida. HortScience. 42(3):453.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Watermelon vine decline (WVD), also known as mature watermelon vine decline, has been a major limiting factor to watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) production in southwest and west central Florida for the past several years. Symptoms of WVD typically occur at harvest time or one to two weeks prior to harvest. The disease causes sudden decline of the vines and can also affect the fruit quality. WVD is estimated to have caused more than $60-$70 million in losses in Florida. Recently, it was determined that a novel whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) transmitted an ipomovirus (family: Potyviridae) named Squash vein yellowing virus (SqVYV) is the causal agent of this disease. We evaluated 218 plant introductions (PI) belonging to the watermelon core collection for tolerance to SqVYV by mechanical inoculations of the plants in a greenhouse. Several PI with tolerance to SqVYV were identified in the greenhouse and further screened in the field in Immokalee, FL. Field screening was conducted in fall 2006 by planting a SqVYV infected squash plant in each watermelon PI plot and rating for disease development three times during the season. Overall, PI 500354 (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides) and PI 386024 (Citrullus colocynthis) were the most tolerant to SqVYV compared with Mickey Lee and Crimson Sweet, which were highly susceptible. We also observed variability in the resistant reaction to SqVYV within these PI. SqVYV was detected using DNA probes in the plants and fruits of the susceptible cultivars but not in the tolerant PI. Further evaluations and selections will be made in the coming seasons to confirm the reactions of these PI to WVD.