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  • Author or Editor: Vincent Njung’e Michael x
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Phytophthora crown rot, caused by Phytophthora capsici Leonian, is a devastating disease in commercial squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) production across the United States. Current management practices rely heavily on the use of chemical fungicides, but existence of fungicide-resistant pathogen populations has rendered many chemicals ineffective. Host resistance is the best strategy for managing this disease; however, no commercial cultivars resistant to the pathogen are currently available. Resistance to Phytophthora crown rot in PI 181761 (C. pepo) is an important genetic resource for squash breeders worldwide; however, the underlying genetic basis of resistance in PI 186761 that would allow designing of sound breeding strategies is currently unknown. The goal of the current study was to determine the inheritance of resistance in breeding line #186761-36P, a resistant selection of PI 181761, using phenotypic data from F1, F2, and backcross populations derived from a cross between #181761-36P and a susceptible acorn-type cultivar, Table Queen. The results indicated that resistance in #181761-36P is controlled by three dominant genes (R4, R5, and R6). Introgression of these genes into susceptible cultivar groups of C. pepo will provide an important tool in the integrated management of Phytophthora crown rot.

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Phytophthora capsici Leonian, the causal agent of Phytophthora crown rot in squash (Cucurbita pepo L.), is an economically important pathogen worldwide. Currently, no C. pepo cultivars immune to the pathogen are commercially available, but sources of resistance to Phytophthora crown rot have been identified in a set of 16 C. pepo plant introductions (PIs). Knowledge of the genetic relationships among these accessions and their relatedness to economically important morphotypes of C. pepo would inform breeders’ best strategies for introgressing resistance; however, this information is currently lacking. The goal of the current study was to determine genetic diversity among the resistant accessions and their genetic relatedness to susceptible morphotypes of subspecies pepo (Zucchini and Pumpkin) and texana (Acorn, Straightneck, and Crookneck) using 39 SSR markers. The markers revealed 132 alleles averaging 4.40 alleles per locus and had a mean polymorphic information content (PIC) and gene diversity of 0.44 and 0.49, respectively. CMTp235 had the highest PIC and gene diversity of 0.80 and 0.82, respectively. Hierarchical clustering by UPGMA and principal coordinate analysis (PCOA) revealed grouping into two major C. pepo subspecies, texana and pepo, with all the resistant accessions grouping in the latter. In order of increasing genetic distance (GD), the resistant accessions were least distant to Zucchini (GD = 0.34), followed by Pumpkin (GD = 0.40), Crookneck (GD = 0.56), Acorn (GD = 0.60), and Straightneck (GD = 0.61) morphotypes. Mean GD among the resistant accessions was 0.31 and was highest between PIs 615142 and 615132 (0.61). Based on genetic similarity, PIs 174185 and 181761 (disease severity ≤1.4) would be the best sources of resistance for transfer into subspecies texana and pepo, respectively. Overall, the results presented here support a closer genetic relationship between the resistant accessions and morphotypes of subspecies pepo than those of subspecies texana.

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Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is the botanical source of miraculin, a natural, noncaloric sweetener. Miracle fruit plants have a bush-like architecture and produce multiple flushes of attractive red berries each year. The berries consist of a large seed, opaque pulp, and brilliant red peel. The pulp of the fruit contains a glycoprotein, miraculin, that binds to the tongue’s sweet receptors and induces a conformational change in response to acidic stimuli. Thus, a strong sweet sensation is imparted in the absence of sugars. The miracle fruit plant is becoming increasingly popular because of its taste-modifying properties, but the species lacks many of the breeding tools common to other crops. We report miracle fruit pulp transcriptomes from ‘Sangria’, ‘Vermilion’, ‘Flame’, and ‘Cherry’ morphotypes. A consensus transcriptome included 91,856 transcripts. Reads mapping to the miraculin gene had the highest representation in individual miracle fruit pulp transcriptomes. Other abundant transcripts primarily included Gene Ontology categories representing cellular components, nucleus and nucleic acid binding, and protein modification. The transcriptomes were used to design real-time quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) primers for actin, elongation factor 1α, and the miraculin gene. Analysis by qRT-PCR indicated that miracle fruit pulp and peel tissues had the highest abundance of miraculin transcripts, although other tissues such as leaf, root, and flower also had detectable levels of the target sequence. Overall, these results will support discovery research for miracle fruit and the eventual breeding of this species.

Open Access