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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Riverside, California » Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #363235

Research Project: Enhancing Specialty Crop Tolerance to Saline Irrigation Waters

Location: Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit

Title: Translocation of photoassimilates in melon vines and fruits under salinity using 13C isotope

Author
item LIMA, REIVANY - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)
item FARIAS, LUCIANA - Universidade Federal Do Ceara (UFC)
item Ferreira, Jorge
item Suarez, Donald
item BEZERRA, MARLOS - Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)

Submitted to: Scientia Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/14/2020
Publication Date: 8/30/2020
Citation: Lima, R.E., Farias, L.F., Ferreira, J.F., Suarez, D.L., Bezerra, M.A. 2020. Translocation of photoassimilates in melon vines and fruits under salinity using 13C isotope. Scientia Horticulturae. 274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2020.109659.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2020.109659

Interpretive Summary: The production and quality of cantaloupe melon in semi-arid regions are threatened by high levels of salinity in irrigation waters. Salinity stress may affect both the production and accumulation of sugars in plants, decreasing fruit yield and quality. This study characterized the translocation of sugars in the hybrid melon ‘Zielo’ when irrigated with saline versus fresh water. We found that salinity stress decreased fruit size and number, delayed carbon translocation to fruits, and delayed fruit maturation. However, salinity did not decrease fruit soluble solids. Although elimination of fertigation two weeks before harvesting is customary when using fresh water, our results suggest that this practice may not be beneficial to melon producers using waters with higher salinities. Further studies are needed to determine if extending the crop cycle under salinity may compensate for delayed fruit maturation and increase fruit sugars. This research is of interest to melon producers, extension personnel and plant researchers examining salinity stress in fruit crops.

Technical Abstract: Both yield and quality of Cantaloupe melon in semi-arid regions are threatened by high levels of salinity in irrigation waters. Our study aimed to characterize the translocation of photoassimilates in melon plants cultivated under salinity condition, using carbon 13 (13CO2) isotopic enrichment. Plants of the melon hybrid ‘Zielo’ were cultivated and drip-irrigated with waters of electrical conductivity (ECw) of 0.5 and 3.5'dS'm-1. Leaves were evaluated for concentrations of Na, Cl, and sucrose and their CO2 assimilation rate. Fruits were evaluated for their weight, yield, sucrose, and soluble solids. Salinity stress affected both assimilation and accumulation of sugars, decreased fruit number and size. The natural (before enrichment) and enriched 13C in leaves from three stem regions and fruits were evaluated in the two final weeks of the crop cycle. The isotopic enrichment was applied to leaves of the basal and apical regions of the primary stem and apical leaves of the secondary stem. Although Na and Cl accumulated in all leaves, accumulation was the highest in basal leaves, causing a significant reduction of net assimilation of CO2 in these leaves. Although salinity significantly reduced fruit numbers and weight, it did not affect fruit soluble solids. Under saline conditions, leaves had a greater isotopic preference for the fixation of 13C than 12C. Two weeks before fruit harvest, regardless of salinity, fruits were the preferential sinks for carbon originated from leaves from the basal and apical parts of the stem. During fruit harvest week, basal and apical leaves of plants irrigated with water of ECw =0.5'dS m-1 had little or no 13C contribution to the fruit, whereas leaves (mainly basal) of plants irrigated with ECw =3.5'dS m-1 continued to send photoassimilates to the fruit. Thus, saline stress reduced fruit size and number significantly and delayed carbon translocation to fruits, delaying fruit maturation. Results suggest that under saline stress, eliminating fertigation two weeks before fruit harvest to reduce fertilizer costs may not be beneficial to melon producers. However, fertigation can be stopped in the last week before harvest when using low-salinity water. Further studies are needed to determine if extending the crop cycle under salinity may compensate for delayed fruit maturation and increase fruit sugars.