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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Evaluation, Enhancement, Genetics and Breeding of Lettuce, Spinach, and Melon Title: Gone Global: Familiar and Exotic Cucurbits have Asian Origins

Authors
item McCreight, James
item Staub, Jack
item Wehner, Todd -
item Dhillon, Narinder -

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 17, 2013
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Citation: McCreight, J.D., Staub, J.E., Wehner, T.C., Dhillon, N.P. 2013. Gone Global: Familiar and Exotic Cucurbits have Asian Origins. HortScience. 48(9):1078–1089.

Interpretive Summary: Cucurbits comprise a diverse group of horticultural species that are valued worldwide. Their fruit may be consumed fresh, cooked, or processed. Their seeds can be eaten roasted, or used for their high quality cooking oil and protein meal. India and central and southwest Asia comprise the primary center of diversity for melon (Cucumis melo L.), with China as a secondary center. India and Southeast Asia, including China, comprise the primary and secondary centers of diversity, respectively, of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai var. lanatus] is of African origin but is important throughout Asia. The Old World tropics are the center of diversity for bitter gourd, which shows its highest diversity in India, China and Southeast Asia. Seedless watermelon originated in Japan. Inter- and intraspecific grafting of select rootstocks to susceptible scions was developed in Asia as a defense against soilborne diseases and insects, and for cold tolerance. We highlight past and potential contributions of Asian cucurbit germplasm and technologies to sustainable U.S. cucurbit production.

Technical Abstract: Cucurbits comprise a diverse group of horticultural species that are valued worldwide. Their fruit may be consumed fresh, cooked, or processed. Their seeds can be eaten roasted, or used for their high quality cooking oil and protein meal. India and central and southwest Asia comprise the primary center of diversity for melon (Cucumis melo L.), with China as a secondary center. India and Southeast Asia, including China, comprise the primary and secondary centers of diversity, respectively, of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai var. lanatus] is of African origin but is important throughout Asia. The Old World tropics are the center of diversity for bitter gourd, which shows its highest diversity in India, China and Southeast Asia. Seedless watermelon originated in Japan. Inter- and intraspecific grafting of select rootstocks to susceptible scions was developed in Asia as a defense against soilborne diseases and insects, and for cold tolerance. We highlight past and potential contributions of Asian cucurbit germplasm and technologies to sustainable U.S. cucurbit production.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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