Phytochrome-regulated Growth of Young Watermelon Plants

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0375

Phytochrome-regulated growth of watermelon [Citrulls lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Naki cv. Sugar Baby] was investigated by treating plants with brief exposures of red (R) or far-red (FR) light at the end of the daily photoperiod. Light treatments were initiated when the plants were 2 weeks old (two true-leaf stage). After 4 days of treatment, petiole lengths of leaf 1 (first leaf above the cotyledon) and leaf 2 (second leaf above the cotyledon) were longer, and the angle formed between these two petioles was more acute in plants treated with end-of-day (EOD) FR than in plants treated with EOD R light or non-EOD-treated plants (control). After 7 days of treatment, internodes 2 and 3 and petioles from leaves 1, 2, and 3 were longer from plants treated for 7 days with EOD FR light than from plants treated with EOD R light or from controls. The EOD FR light promotion of internode, petiole angle, and petiole elongation was reversible by immediately following the FR with R, implicating the involvement of phytochrome in the regulation of these growth processes of watermelon. After 21 days of treatment, most of the internodes (six of eight) from the EOD FR-treated plants were longer than the corresponding internodes from the EOD R-treated plants. Plants that were treated with EOD light for 21 days and then grown for an additional 14 days without EOD light treatments exhibited no residual EOD light effect on internode elongation (as compared to plants not exposed to EOD light). Residual EOD FR light treatment effects on elongation of petioles 1, 2, 3, and 4 were suggested for plants treated with EOD light for 21 days and then grown for 14 days without EOD treatments.

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