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  • Author or Editor: Linda Wessel-Beaver x
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Accessions of both domesticated and wild Cucurbita spp. were tested from Jan. to May 1996 in Isabela, Puerto Rico, for resistance to silverleaf and sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). None of the accessions tested were completely free of whiteflies, but some accessions were completely free of silverleaf. At 8 weeks, checks of `Soler' and `Butternut' had silverleaf ratings of 4.5 and 0.0, respectively (on a 0 to 5 scale, where 0 = no silverleaf). Both checks were highly infected with whiteflies. Wild Cucurbitas do not appear to be a good source of whitefly or silverleaf resistance. While no strong correlations were observed between number of whiteflies and degree of silvering, all plants that were highly silvered were also heavily infested with whiteflies. Some plants with little or no silverleaf had many fewer whiteflies. Plants from ≈40 accessions from a total of about 800 were selfed for further evaluation.

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In order to effectively use recurrent selection for developing polygenic resistance to powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum), methods to quantify resistance need to be developed. Our objective was to compare several inoculation methods for their effectiveness in a half-sib selection breeding program. Seven inoculation methods and 3 controls were applied to each of two susceptible C. moschata varieties planted in pots and arranged in a randomized complete block design with five replications. The experiment was repeated two times. Single degree of freedom comparisons found no difference in number of lesions resulting from inoculation by rubbing host with infected tissue vs. attaching infected tissue. Using no adherent resulted in as many lesions as using triton. Egg white as an adherent resulted in fewer lesions than using triton or no adherent. Spraying with a triton spore suspension was not an effective method. While rubbing leaves is fast and easy, attaching pieces of infected tissue may afford more control of spore concentration.

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Melonworm (Diaphania hyalinata) is one of the most damaging pests of squash and pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) in tropical/subtropical regions of the Americas. In order to identify sources of resistence to melonworm, we evaluated 345 accessions of C. moschata, including both tropical and temperate types, originating from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. C. argyrosperma (65 accessions) was also evaluated. Accessions were field tested in five single-plant complete blocks planted over a 9-month period in Isabela, P.R. Each plant was evaluated for foliar damage (0–4 scale) at 3 and 6 weeks. Larval counts were made on a five-leaf sample at 8 weeks. Accessions were classified for degree of leaf mottling and pubescence. Differences among accessions were found for foliar damage and number of larva, but ranking of accessions varied, depending on the criteria used to measure resistance. In order to establish independent culling levels, we considered the lower 30% of accessions for each trait. The upper limit was ≤0.42 for foliar damage at 3 weeks, ≤0.50 damage at 6 weeks, and ≤1.25larva/plant. This led to the selection of 34 resistant accessions. We used a similar technique to identify the most susceptible accessions. The susceptible accessions will be used as a control group when the 34 selections are further evaluated. Within C. moschata, accessions with either green leaves or less pubescence had less leaf damage and fewer larva than accessions with mottled leaves or more pubescence. As a group, C. argryosperma accessions were more susceptible, and nearly all had mottled leaves and little pubescence. Untested accessions with green leaves and/or little pubescence might yield additional sources of resistance to melonworm.

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The Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee will be a forum for leadership regarding issues, problems, and opportunities of long-term strategic importance to the contribution of plant breeding to national goals. The committee will create the only regular opportunity to provide such leadership across all crops. The nature of plant breeding as an integrative discipline par excellence will be reflected in multidisciplinary committee membership. The past decade has brought major changes in the U.S. national plant breeding investment. In order for administrators and other decisionmakers to understand the implications of the changes and respond most effectively for the future, there is need for a clear analysis of the role of plant breeding for meeting national goals. Although recent changes in investment are the impetus for this committee, the need to articulate the role of plant breeding in meeting national goals is likely to be on-going, regardless of immediate circumstances. This presentation will describe recent progress on organizing this committee, and will ask all plant breeders to begin thinking about the questions to be addressed at the upcoming national workshop.

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Heritabilities (h2) and genetic correlations between percent fruit set, yield, and fruit weight were estimated from one summer planting each in Florida and Puerto Rico of 100 S, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) families from a synthetic population. Single-location h2 was high for all traits. Across-locations h2 was low for yield, intermediate for fruit set, and high for fruit weight. Genotype × environment interaction (G × E) was 1) the only significant component of variance for yield, 2) somewhat important for fruit set, and 3) not an important variance component for fruit weight. The greater importance of genetic variance compared to G × E variance explains why across-location heritabilities for fruit weight and fruit set were high. Genetic correlations between fruit set and weight were strongly negative, while those between yield and set were large and positive. Yields under high temperatures may increase with selection for fruit set, but a reduction in fruit weight would be expected in this population and those with similar genetic correlations.

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The effect of fruit age (30 to 50 days after anthesis), fruit storage (seed extracted 0 to 20 days after harvest), and seed storage (0 to 12 months) on seed weight, emergence and vigor were studied in two tropical populations of pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). In separate experiments fermentation of extracted seed was studied using several tropical and temperate genotypes. Emergence reached nearly 100% in seeds from fruit harvested 45 days after flowering, no matter how many days these fruits were stored. Seed weight and emergence markedly increased for seed extracted from less mature fruit (harvested 30 to 45 days after anthesis) when those fruits were stored for 15 to 20 days after harvest. Emergence improved during the first 3 months of seed storage, then leveled off during the remainder of the study. Fermentation of the seed and placental material for 48 hrs followering extraction does not damage seed. The seed extraction process is simplified and the emergence rate appears to increase possibly due to faster imbibition in fermented seed.

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Most cultivars of tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duchesne) are large, trailing plants. New semi-bush (SB) genotypes need to be tested against traditional long vine (LV) types. Both types of pumpkin have large amounts of interplant space during the early stages of growth that might allow for the planting of an intercrop. To test this hypothesis, as well as the performance of tropical pumpkins of varying growth habit, double rows of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) or cowpeas [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] were intercropped between rows of SB or traditional LV tropical pumpkin in Spring and Fall 1993 in Lajas and Isabela, Puerto Rico. In general, interactions between intercrop treatment and pumpkin genotype were not significant. At its maximum percentage cover (MC) the LV genotype covered, or nearly covered, the entire plot while the SB genotype covered 50% of the plot or less. The SB pumpkin was harvested 5 to 27 days earlier than the LV type. Yield was two to 12 times greater, and average fruit size three to six times greater in the latter. Planting of an intercrop did not reduce pumpkin yield. Green-shelled yields of intercropped legumes averaged ≈700 kg·ha-1. Genotype of the pumpkin maincrop did not affect legume green-shelled yields in Lajas. In Isabela, legume green-shelled yields were 50% higher in SB than in LV pumpkin plots. Legume dry grain yields were greatly reduced in LV compared to SB plots. Intercropping of tropical pumpkin with a short season legume that can be harvested green-shelled is an efficient intercropping system that offers additional yield from the legume without sacrificing yield from the pumpkin maincrop. Both SB and LV pumpkins can be used in an intercrop system, but pumpkin yields were much greater with the LV genotype.

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A joint breeding effort of the Universities of Puerto Rico and Florida involves the development of short-vined tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) genotypes that are able to reach maturity earlier than traditional long-vined types. Sixteen promising hybrids and inbreds were planted in Lajas, Puerto Rico, in June 1998. Pedigrees of this material included traditional tropical genotypes crossed with bush or compact temperate genotypes. Anthesis in both pistillate and staminate flowers occurred on average 49 days after planting. However, the variability of flowering dates among genotypes was far greater for pistillate (40 to 60 days) than staminate (46 to 54 days) flowers. Hybrids flowered earlier than inbred lines. Female flowers opened before male flowers in many genotypes. It seems likely that an inadequate source of pollen contributed to the low yields of some of the earliest genotypes. The five highest-yielding genotypes had pistillate flowers that opened after their male counterparts. All plots were once-over harvested 86 days after planting. Average yield per plant varied from 1.4 to 6.0 kg. Average fruit weight varied from 0.8 to 3.1 kg. High-yielding genotypes tended to have the highest fruit weight, a factor that should be considered when breeding for the next generation of short-vined genotypes. Yields were less than what could be expected from a long-vined tropical pumpkin. However, this yield could be obtained with a once-over harvest at about 90 days, compared to multiple harvests beginning at 120 days, saving costs of additional field practices, and allowing the land to be used for other purposes.

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Hybrids from crosses between bush/short-vined breeding lines and traditional, vining cultigens were evaluated in the fall 1993 season. Yields of individual hybrids were 0.51 to 1.73 times those of their vining parents and 0.83 to 4.41 times those of the bush/short-vined parents. The average yield response of 58 hybrids was 1.05 times that of vining parents and 2.15 that of bush/short-vined parents. Average fruit weight, flesh thickness, and flesh color of the hybrids tended to be intermediate between that of the bush/short-vined and vining parents. Plant habit of all hybrids was similar to that of the bush/short-vined parent early in the growth cycle, but some became viney later in the growth cycle. Fruit matured earlier on bush/short-vined parent and hybrid plants than on viney parent plants.

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Squash and pumpkins (Cucurbita sp.) are important contributors of beta-carotene to the diet. Consumers of tropical pumpkin and butternut squash (both C. moschata Duchesne) prefer a deep orange mesocarp color. Color intensity is related to carotene content. Among the five domesticated Cucurbita species, C. moschata and C. argyrosperma Huber have a close relationship. In crosses between these two species, fertile F1 plants can be easily obtained when using C. argyrosperma as the female parent. This research studied the relationship between and within C. moschata and C. argyrosperma by sequencing three genes in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway and generating gene trees. Genotypes used in the study differed in flesh color from very pale yellow to dark orange. In some cases, haplotypes were associated with a particular mesocarp color. Further study of these types of associations may improve our understanding of color development in Cucurbita. The frequency of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the sequenced fragments was low. There were more SNPs and more heterozygotes among C. moschata accessions than among C. argyrosperma accessions. Haplotypes of the outgroups (C. ficifolia C.D. Bouché and C. maxima Duchesne) were always distinct from C. moschata and C. argyrosperma. These later species had both distinct haplotypes and shared haplotypes. Haplotypes shared among species tended to be maintained in the same branch of the phylogenetic tree, suggesting either gene flow between the species or a common ancestral gene. Both explanations suggest a close genetic and evolutionary relationship between C. moschata and C. argyrosperma.

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