Submitted to: Journal American Society Hortscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 8, 2011
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Citation: Davis, A.R., Webber III, C.L., Fish, W.W., Wehner, T., King, S., Perkins-Veazie, P. 2012. L-citrulline levels in watermelon cultigens tested in two environments. HortScience. 46(12):1572-1575. Interpretive Summary: Melon producers face increasing production costs and international market competition. Maximizing marketability of high quality watermelon, which also contains L-citrulline, an amino acid phytonutrient, can provide new markets for this crop. Varieties need to be identified that have increased levels of L-citrulline, and it is important to know how the production environment affects these levels. L-citrulline content varied within, and among 56 cultivars, and that affect was moderated by environment; fruit tested in Lane, Oklahoma had higher values than those in College Station, Texas. It was determined that cvs. Tom Watson and Jubilee, and PI 306364, had high L-citrulline values, and these germplasm could possibly serve as breeding stock to improve L-citrulline content in modern watermelon varieties.
Technical Abstract: Melon producers face increasing production costs and international market competition. Maximizing marketability of high quality watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai], that also contain high levels of the amino acid phytonutrient L-citrulline, can provide new market niches for this crop. This amino acid may help regulate blood pressure. Germplasm containing enhanced L-citrulline needs to be identified. There is little information on genetics of nutritional quality of most fruit and vegetables. This study was performed using 56 watermelon lines to determine the importance of genetics versus environment on L-citrulline content. Amounts of L-citrulline varied within, and among cultivars, and that affect was moderated by environment (average of all fruit tested in Lane, Oklahoma = 3.10 mg/g**-1 fresh weight and in College Station, Texas = 1.67 mg/g**-1 fresh weight). The cv. AU-Jubilant had the most stable L-citrulline expression (2.23 to 4.03 mg/g**-1 fresh deviation), even when grown at one location. Within-cultivar variation did not appear to be affected by location. Also, there was no correlation between L-citrulline content and watermelon type (open pollinated vs. F1 hybrid), or color (red, orange, salmon yellow, vs. white). The cvs. Tom Watson and Jubilee, and PI 306364, had higher values, and these could possibly serve as breeding stock to improve L-citrulline content in modern varieties.