The fungus Monosporascus cannonballus Pollock and Uecker infects melon (Cucumis melo L.) roots and causes root rot/vine decline disease, which has reduced productivity of commercial muskmelon and honeydew cultivars in South Texas. To assess the impact of the fungus on several root traits, two greenhouse experiments were carried out over two seasons. A comparison of inoculated vs. control root systems was carried out with four melon cultivars representing both susceptible (`Magnum 45' and `Caravelle') and tolerant types (`Deltex' and `Doublon'). The sand medium was inoculated with 50–60 colony forming units (CFUs) per gram of the severe Monosporascus strain, TX90-25. After a 30-day growth period, the control and inoculated root systems were carefully cleaned and evaluated. Roots were scanned by a computer and the data were analyzed by the Rhizo Pro 3.8 program. The traits of interest included total root length, average root diameter, number of root tips, number of fine roots (0–0.5 mm), and number of small roots (0.5–1 mm). Significant differences existed between the two tolerant cultivars and the two susceptible ones for four of the traits. Total root length, fine and small root length, and root tip number were greater for `Deltex' than for both susceptible cultivars and greater for `Doublon' than for `Caravelle'. The results suggest that tolerance to this pathogen is closely linked to the integrity of the root structure. The potential for improving root vigor to combat root rot/vine decline merits further investigation.
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