Main content area

Agromorphological genetic diversity of Spanish traditional melons

Lázaro, A., Fernández, I. C., Borrero, M. J., Cabello, F., López-Sesé, A. I., Gómez-Guillamón, M. L., Picó, B.
Genetic resources and crop evolution 2017 v.64 no.7 pp. 1687-1706
color, cultivars, farmers, farms, fruits, genetic variation, hybrids, landraces, melons, microsatellite repeats, new markets, provenance, texture, Spain
The variability of 62 Spanish landraces (and two hybrids used as reference) was described by analysing 39 morphological traits and eight SSR makers. Results showed that 81% of the examined genetic pool belonged to the inodorus type. Spanish traditional melons presented fruits from flattened and globular shapes to elliptical. Rind colour varied from pale green, almost white and yellow to dark green and almost black. Rind texture varied from smooth to intensely wrinkled. Spanish landraces also had larger fruits (average fruit weight ~2.6 kg) and longer vegetative cycles (117 days to maturity) compared to landraces from other geographical origins. Farmers seem to have focused on selection towards large fruits, which usually requires the longest production cycles. Fruit colour, size and shape seemed to have been determinant in varietal selection. Hierarchical clustering resulted in two main groups (climacteric and non-climacteric). The largest group was composed of 60 accessions of non-climacteric types, which includes the most demanded by national markets, ‘Piel de Sapo’, which fruits were characterized by an ovate or elliptical shape, a green rind, big spots and stains distributed over the whole fruit, a rounded blossom end shape and a very pointed stem end shape. The study demonstrates that the Spanish genetic pool is much more diverse. Wide variability was found in a geographical area with vast historical importance in melon farming. These evaluations has allowed the identification of several uniform groups of non-climacteric cultivars (‘Piel de Sapo’, ‘Mochuelo’, ‘Tendral’, Yellow/White, Winter and Black groups) and a set of highly variable climacteric ones. However, many accessions with singular properties remain unclassified, demonstrating the morphological variability of the studied collection. Melons in Spain have wide variability together with a vast historical importance on farms. Some fruit types, or at least some morphological characters reflected by painters during centuries, have reached the present. The present study confirmed the need to preserve these irreplaceable genetic resources and continue their study and evaluation for valuable traits which could enhance farmer’s opportunities for entering new markets.