Muskmelon [Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus Group)] fruit sugar content is the single most important consumer preference attribute. During fruit ripening, sucrose accumulates when soluble acid invertase (AI) activity is less then sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS) activity. To genetically heighten fruit sugar content, knowledge of sugar accumulation during fruit development in conjunction with AI and SPS enzyme activities and their peptide immunodetection profiles, is needed. Two netted muskmelon cultivars, Valley Gold a high sugar accumulator, and North Star a low sugar accumulator, with identical maturity indices were assayed for fruit sugars, AI and SPS activity, and immunodetection of AI and SPS polypeptides 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, or 40 (abscission) days after anthesis (DAA). Both cultivars, grown in the Fall, 1998 and Spring, 1999, showed similar total sugar accumulation profiles. Total sugars increased 1.5 fold, from 2 through 5 DAA, then remained unchanged until 30 DAA. From 30 DAA until abscission, total sugar content increased, with `Valley Gold' accumulating significantly more than `North Star'. During both seasons, sucrose was detected at 2 DAA, which coincided with SPS activity higher than AI activity, at 5 through 25 DAA, no sucrose was detected which coincided with SPS activity less than AI activity. At 30 DAA when SPS activity was greater than AI activity, increased sucrose accumulation occurred. `Valley Gold' at abscission had higher total sugar content and SPS activity, and lower AI activity than `North Star'. `North Star' had AI isoforms at 75, 52, 38, and 25 kDa (ku) that generally decreased with maturation, although the isoform at 52 ku remained detectable up to anthesis (40 DAA). `Valley Gold' had the same four AI isoforms, all decreased with maturation and became undetectable by 20 DAA. Both `Valley Gold' and `North Star' had one SPS band at 58 ku that increased with DAA, and coincided with SPS activity. `Valley Gold' had a more intense SPS polypeptide band at abscission than `North Star'. Thus, netted muskmelon fruit sugar accumulation may be increased, either by genetic manipulation or by selecting for cultivars with a specific number of down-regulated AI isoforms, and higher SPS activity during fruit ripening.
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