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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #223646

Title: Lycopene accumulation in watermelon

item Davis, Angela
item Perkins Veazie, Penelope
item Webber Iii, Charles

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2008
Publication Date: 6/2/2008
Citation: Davis, A.R., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Webber III, C.L., King, S.R., Jeffery, J., Bang, H. 2008. Lycopene accumulation in watermelon [abstract]. HortScience. 43(3):614-615.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Lycopene is a red pigmented antioxidant that has been linked to various health benefits. Because of its intense coloring and heath promoting properties, lycopene has been used as a natural food colorant and is used in supplements. It has been established in the literature that variety, location, grafting, deficit irrigation, and production intensity have an affect on the amount of lycopene accumulated in watermelon fruit. But still, varieties grown in the same location, harvested the same time and from the same variety can have drastically different levels of lycopene, even when only fully ripe fruit are assayed. We performed a study to determine if physical properties within a plant can be the cause of this variation in carotenoid accumulation. We found that time of harvest can affect lycopene accumulation by up to 47%. Fruit size can change the amount of this compound by 29%, with higher weight positively correlating with higher lycopene. The number of fruit per plant had a slight impact on lycopene accumulation, with fruit from plants producing five fruit demonstrating on average 10% less lycopene then fruit from plants that only produce one fruit. We also determined that location on the plant could affect the amount of lycopene, with crown set fruit containing on average 15% more lycopene than fruit set three or more feet from the crown. Days past pollination affected lycopene accumulation, with up to a 31% increase with increasing days past pollination.