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Penelope Perkins-Veazie*, J.K. Collins, and Warren Roberts

Watermelons contain the carotenoids b-carotene, phytofluene, lycopene, and lutein. These carotenoids play an important role in plant oxidative protection and may serve to protect humans against oxidative assaults. Of the carotenoids, lycopene is the predominant pigment in red-fleshed melons (30-130 μg·g-1), b-carotene is present in small amounts (1-14 μg·g-1), and other carotenoids are present in minute amounts (1-3 μg·g-1). Seventy varieties were screened for lycopene content using scanning colorimetry, spectrophotometry, and HPLC techniques, and grouped as low, medium, high, or very high in lycopene. Pink-fleshed heirloom varieties such as Sweet Princess and Black Diamond contained low amounts of lycopene (<40 μg·g-1). A number of seeded and seedless varieties had medium amounts of lycopene (40-60 μg·g-1). Varieties in the high category (60-80 μg·g-1) were primarily seedless types, although `Dixie Lee', an open-pollinated, seeded variety had 69 μg·g-1, indicating that high lycopene content is not restricted to hybrid or seedless melon germplasm. Six selections were found to be very high in lycopene (>80 μg·g-1), including the minimelon Hazera 6008 (Extazy). Total carotenoids and carotenoid profiles were determined by HPLC for 23 varieties in 2003. Both seeded and seedless type melons had varieties high in bcarotene, lycopene, and total carotenoids. These results indicate that commercial watermelon varieties have a wide range in lycopene and b-carotene content, and that most commercially important varieties are high in lycopene and total carotenoids, providing important sources of phytonutrients to the human diet.

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Angela R. Davis, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Julie Collins, and Amnon Levi

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Todd C. Wehner, Rachel P. Naegele, and Penelope Perkins-Veazie

Citrulline, arginine, and lycopene are naturally occurring compounds found in watermelon, Citrullus lanatus (Thumb) Matsum & Nakai, with beneficial effects on plant growth and human health. This study evaluated seven commercial cultivars and one breeding line for citrulline, arginine, and lycopene content in mature fruit grown at two locations in North Carolina. Correlations among these compounds and fruit quality traits (percent soluble solids and flesh pH) were evaluated. Watermelon cultigens evaluated were chosen for their fruit trait diversity. ‘Yellow Doll’ and NC-517 possessed the highest citrulline and combined concentration of citrulline and arginine of all cultigens evaluated. Lycopene content was highest in ‘Dixielee’, followed by ‘Sugar Baby’, and ‘Allsweet’, each of which have different shades of red flesh color. Location and its interaction with genotype had no significant effect on arginine or lycopene concentration. Broad-sense heritability was estimated for each trait. Arginine content (89%) and lycopene content (99%) had very high heritability. Citrulline content (41%), percent soluble solids (46%), and flesh pH (61%) had moderate heritability. Lycopene was positively correlated with flesh pH (r = 0.517) and negatively correlated with percent soluble solids (r = −0.344). Arginine content had a weak negative correlation with flesh pH (r = −0.343) and was not correlated with percent soluble solids.

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Chen Jiang, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Guoying Ma, and Christopher Gunter

The consumption of fresh muskmelons (Cucumis melo reticulatus L.) has been linked to severe illness outbreaks due to contamination with bacterial pathogens. Antimicrobial essential oils (EOs) were incorporated into wash water sprays and evaluated as potential agents for postharvest disinfection of ‘Athena’ muskmelons. Freshly harvested fruits were sprayed with 0.5% EOs from cinnamon leaf, thyme, or clove bud emulsified in a whey protein emulsion (WP) as potential washing disinfectants, together with deionized water, water with 200 µL·L−1 free chlorine (pH 7, free turbidity), or oil-free WP as controls. Melons were treated, stored at 4 °C and then evaluated weekly for weight loss, rind color, mesocarp firmness and the compositional quality traits soluble solids content (SSC), pH, β-carotene content, and total ascorbic acid (AsA) for up to 21 days. Essential oil–treated melons were not different from controls in fruit quality and composition with the exception of fruits treated with thyme oil, which were statistically lower in SSC (0.8 °Brix) than those treated with water or cinnamon oil treatment. Internal carbon dioxide was statistically higher (≈0.1% higher in value, equal to a 25% increase) in muskmelons receiving whey protein–based treatments after storage for at least 7 days. Overall, our results suggest that EOs as disinfectants have little effect on quality or composition of muskmelon fruit.

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Jordan L. Hartman, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Todd C. Wehner

Watermelon fruit [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb) Matsum & Nakai] is a natural source of phytonutrients, including lycopene, citrulline, and arginine. Two segregating, highly outcrossed North Carolina watermelon populations, NC High Yield (NCHYW) and NC Small Fruit (NCSFW), were evaluated for these traits and for indicators of ripeness (pH and soluble solids content). Parents tested in 2015 (NSF = 300, NHY = 300) were sampled for the above and offspring were tested in 2016 if the sampled fruit of the parents were of qualifying ripeness [soluble solids concentration (SSC) ≥8, pH 5.5–6.5], resulting in 251 families (NSF = 72, NHY = 175). Narrow-sense heritability was estimated in each of the populations using the methods of 1) parent-offspring regression and 2) variance of half-sibling family means. Heritability for citrulline in NCHYW was moderate in both parent-offspring and half-sibling estimations (38% and 43%), as was arginine (40% and 44%) and lycopene (46% and 47%, respectively). Estimates for these traits in NCSFW were considerably different, with parent-offspring and half-sibling estimations for citrulline (65% and 22%), arginine (9% and 20%), and lycopene (44% and 68%). In NCHYW, moderate phenotypic correlations were found between SSC and citrulline (0.40), arginine (0.40), their combination (0.45), and lycopene (0.30) all of which were significant, except lycopene. Lycopene was significantly and weakly correlated to citrulline (0.22), but was not correlated to arginine (0.06). Similar correlations were found in NCSFW; SSC was significantly correlated to citrulline (0.24), arginine (0.18), and their combination (0.23), whereas lycopene was slightly correlated to citrulline (0.15) and not significantly correlated to arginine. Based on these heritabilities and phenotypic correlations, tandem selection for high lycopene and citrulline content may be accomplished efficiently using progeny rows with minimal replication using the NCSFW population, whereas replication with multiple years, rows, and locations may be necessary for creating stable lines using the NCHYW population.

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Gina E. Fernandez, James R. Ballington, and Penelope Perkins-Veazie

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Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Brent Black, Ingrid Fordham, and Luke Howard

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) is a small red berry that grows on shrubs from Maine to Alabama. This plant originated in China and was introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800s for erosion control. About 20% of the berry' fresh weight is in its single, large seed. The berries of Autumn olive are extremely rich in lycopene (30–50 mg/100 g). The berries are astringent, indicating that fruit may be high in phenolic compounds as well as carotenoids. There has been great interest in producing the plants in domesticated plantings, and in using the fruit as a natural source of lycopene.

This study was done to determine the relative contents of lycopene and phenolics among selections and varieties of autumn olive. The lycopene content of six selections and varieties was 30 to 55 mg·g–1. The lycopene content of berries did not increase after 4 days storage at 25 °C followed by 2 days at 5 °C. Autumn olives are high in soluble solids content (11% to 17%), and relatively high in acidity (1.7% to 5.5% citric acid). The astringent flavor of the berries may be due to the high total phenolic content (1700 mg·kg–1 chlorogenic acid equivalents). The berries were found to be high in flavanols and hydroxybenzoic acids (33 rutin and 31 gallic acid mg·kg–1 equivalents), while the seeds were high in hydroxycinnamic acids and extremely high in hydroxybenzoic acids (35 chlorogenic acid and 184 gallic acid mg·kg–1 equivalents).

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John R. Clark, James N. Moore, and Penelope Perkins-Veazie

`White Rock' and `White County' fresh market peaches (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) were released in 2004 by the University of Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. These cultivars join `White River' as recent products of the peach breeding program which is based at the University of Arkansas Fruit Substation, Clarksville. Both cultivars are sub- or low-acid types and have white flesh. `White Rock' ripens at on average 25 June, and is very firm at maturity. Average fruit weight was 142 g with 12% soluble solids and light white peach flavor. `White County' ripens on average 14 July. It is large fruited with average weight of 258 g and maintains firmness until full maturity. The fruits are freestone with an excellent white peach flavor. Both cultivars show good bacterial spot resistance although occasional lesions are seen on leaves. These new cultivars offer additional white peach cultivar choices for the mid-South and other areas of similar climate.

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John R. Clark, James N. Moore, and Penelope Perkins-Veazie

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Stephen J. Stringer, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Donna A. Marshall

The consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has always been known to provide essential nutrition to mankind and, both anecdotally and clinically, has been linked to the prevention or alleviation of chronic diseases. The muscadine grape, a fruit native to the southeastern U.S., contains numerous phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants and also other compounds, such as resveratrol, that acts as a chemopreventative. The concentrations of these compounds present in the muscadine grape equal or exceed that known for any other small fruit. Fruit of selected muscadine grape genotypes, including breeding lines and cultivars, were evaluated over a 2-year period to assess the existing genetic base for these nutraceutical compounds. Results demonstrated that concentrations of total phenolics, ellagic acid, and resveratrol differ significantly among cultivars and breeding lines. These results suggest that it should be possible to breed for increased concentrations of the health-promoting compounds in muscadine grapes.