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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #257563

Title: Eggplant relatives as sources of variation for developing new rootstocks: effects of grafting on eggplant yield and fruit apparent quality and composition

item GISBERT, CARMINA - Polytechnic University Of Valencia (UPV)
item PROHENS, JAIME - Polytechnic University Of Valencia (UPV)
item RAIGON, MARIA - Polytechnic University Of Valencia (UPV)
item Stommel, John
item NUEZ, FERNANCO - Polytechnic University Of Valencia (UPV)

Submitted to: Scientia Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/9/2010
Publication Date: 2/1/2011
Citation: Gisbert, C., Prohens, J., Raigon, M., Stommel, J.R., Nuez, F. 2011. Eggplant relatives as sources of variation for developing new rootstocks: effects of grafting on eggplant yield and fruit apparent quality and composition. Scientia Horticulturae. 128:14-22.

Interpretive Summary: Grafting is an ancient practice where the rootstock of one plant is joined to the shoot or bud of another plant to provide resistance to diseases, to increase plant tolerance to environmental stress such as drought or flooding, to improve water or nutrient uptake, or to enhance plant vigor. Lack of vegetables tolerant to increasingly important diseases and environmental stresses have led to renewed interest in vegetable crops grafting. We evaluated exotic African eggplant relatives for their use as rootstocks for grafting onto the commercial eggplant. We identified rootstocks that are superior to available eggplant rootstocks and improved plant vigor, disease tolerance, and fruit yield without negative effects on fruit quality. The results will be valuable for vegetable breeders and growers for development and production of superior eggplants.

Technical Abstract: We propose the utilization of eggplant (Solanum melongena) interspecific hybrids derived from crosses with closely related species as an approach for developing new improved rootstocks for eggplant. Here we investigate rootstock effects on fruit yield, apparent quality and proximate and mineral composition of S. melongena ‘Black Beauty’ (BB) scions grafted on interspecific hybrid rootstocks developed from crosses of S. melongena with S. incanum (SIxSM) and S. aethiopicum (SMxSA). The results are compared with non-grafted (BB control) and self-grafted (BB/BB) controls and with S. melongena ‘Black Beauty’ scions grafted onto S. torvum (STO) and S. macrocarpon (SMA) rootstocks. All treatments were grown in a soil naturally infested with root-knot nematodes (mostly Meloidogyne incognita). SIxSM and SMxSA interspecific hybrids had high germination (=90%) and total graft success (100%). Contrary to what occurred with all other treatments, no plants from scions grafted onto these hybrid rootstocks died during the experiment. In particular, the SIxSM hybrid rootstock conferred the highest vigour to the scion, which resulted in the highest values for fruit earliness and early and total yield. Little difference was observed among treatments for apparent fruit quality traits, except for a greater fruit calyx length and prickliness of fruit grafted onto SMA rootstocks. A similar result was obtained for fruit composition where phenolics content was higher in fruit from plants grafted onto SMA rootstocks. Grafting eggplant onto interspecific eggplant hybrids, especially on the SIxSM hybrid, has proved advantageous for eggplant production, as the high vigour and good compatibility of the rootstock with scion results in improved early and total yield without negative effects on apparent fruit quality or composition. Interspecific hybrids represent an alternative to the commonly used STO rootstock, which is a wild species with irregular germination.