Ethylene Production Rate and Postharvest Shelf-life Diversity in Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Germplasm

in HortScience
Authors:
David W. WolffTexas Agricultural Experiment Station, The Texas A&M Univ. System, 2415 E. Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596.

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James R. DunlapTexas Agricultural Experiment Station, The Texas A&M Univ. System, 2415 E. Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596.

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Cucumis melo varieties show a great diversity of ripening and abscission phenotype, ethylene production, and postharvest keeping quality. As a preliminary step in the development of melons with improved shelf-life and modified ripening, we surveyed 100 genotypes of melons with diverse ripening characteristics for ethylene production rate and shelf-life. Genotypes representing seven melon types (Western shipper cantaloupes, Eastern cantaloupes, Long shelf life cantaloupes [LSL], Charenteis, Galias, Honeydews, Casabas) were planted in the field in a randomized complete block with three replications. C. melo var. reticulatus and C. melo var. inodorus were harvested 40 and 50 days post-anthesis, respectively, and brought in the lab for ethylene production measurement. Fruit at horticultural maturity were also harvested and stored at room temperature. After 7 days, a postharvest decay rating (1 = complete rot and collapse–5 = no softening or decay) was taken to determine relative shelf-life of the genotypes. Average ethylene production rate ranged from 44.44 to 0.64 nl·h–1·g–1 for Eastern cantaloupes and Casaba melons, respectively. A negative linear relationship was observed between ethylene production rate and postharvest decay rating. LSL cantaloupes had the lowest ethylene production rate of the netted, orange flesh types. The relationship between ethylene production rate and polymorphism for ACC oxidase (pMEL1) and ACC synthase (pMEACS1) cDNA probes is being investigated.

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