(266) Identifying Molecular Markers Correlating with High Beta-carotene Content in Muskmelon

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  • 1 1Texas A&M University, Horticulture, College Station, TX, 77840
  • | 2 2Texas A&M University, Horticulture, Weslaco, TX, 78596

Muskmelons (Cucumis melo L.) play an important role in the American diet. Ranked as one of the top 10 most-consumed fruits by the USDA, cantaloupe melons have the highest amount of beta-carotene of all the ranked fruits. Beta-carotene, also called pro-Vitamin A, is an essential nutrient required for eye health, and may have the potential, as an antioxidant to reduce the risks associated with cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. Breeding melons with increased levels of beta-carotene will benefit consumer health. Research has found phytonutrients are most bioavailable when consumed in their fresh form, rather than as vitamin supplements. The high level of beta-carotene found in some melons has a genotypic component, which may be exploited to breed melons high in beta-carotene. Molecular markers and marker-assisted selection (MAS) can be used to increase the efficacy of the breeding process, while lowering breeding costs. An F2 population was created using `Sunrise', the female parent, containing no beta-carotene crossed with `TAM Uvalde', a high beta-carotene variety. A field population consisting of 115 F2 individuals and a greenhouse population containing 90 F2 individuals were grown. The resulting fruit were screened phenotypically and ranked according to beta-carotene content. Chisquare values fit the previously reported model of a single dominant gene for presence of beta-carotene (orange-flesh) vs. absence (green or white flesh). A continuous distribution of beta-carotene concentrations from high to low suggested quantitative inheritance for this trait. Two eight-plant DNA bulks composed of either high or low beta-carotene F2 individuals were screened for polymorphic molecular markers using the amplified fragment-length polymorphism technique.

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