Melon genome breakthrough should lead to tastier fruit
Nine Spanish research centres, five private companies and five regional authorities worked together on the project entitled Melonomics.
They deciphered the complete genome of the fruit with massive sequencing using new cheaper and more efficient technology, according to the National Research Council (CSIC).
The melon has a genome of about 450 million base pairs and 27,427 genes, far more than its nearest relative the cucumber.
Research leader Jordi García Mas, said the discovery would help future research and development.
“Knowledge of the genome, and genes related to agronomic traits, of interest will help further the breeding of this species to produce varieties resistant to pests and better organoleptic quality.”
Scientists identified 411 genes in the fruit that would function to provide resistance to disease, 89 genes related to fruit ripening, 26 with the accumulation of carotenoids, 63 with the accumulation of both sugar and flavor; and 21 which were not previously described.
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).
According to 2009 data from the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) global production of melons reached 26 metric tons (MT) a year with Spain the fifth largest producer.