Home Precision Agriculture New Research Illuminates Origin of Watermelons

New Research Illuminates Origin of Watermelons


The watermelon has lengthy been a quintessential summer time snack within the western world. However there’s been some debate about the place the fleshy fruit originated earlier than it grew to become a standard sight on American picnic tables. 

Scientists have been working to reply the place watermelons come from for many years. A just lately debunked 90-year-old idea held that watermelon was carefully associated to the South African citron melon and, subsequently, first sprouted in South Africa. New analysis, printed within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Science, nevertheless, makes a compelling case for an origin story that begins in northeast Africa. A gaggle of geneticists and evolutionary biologists have decided that the Kordofan melon from Sudan is definitely the closest current wild relative of home watermelon. 

Within the examine, scientists took tons of of genetically sequenced home watermelon and in contrast their DNA to that of recognized wild melon varieties. Out of the wild samples, the Kordofan melon had genes that almost all carefully matched that of the refreshing fruit we all know and love. 

Researchers additionally analyzed a quantity of Egyptian tomb work that present a watermelon-like fruit being served on a tray with grapes and lotus flowers, suggesting that it may have been a dessert meals within the Nile Valley greater than 4,000 years in the past. Round this time, many Egyptians occupied Nubia or present-day Sudan, the place they obtained all the things from crops, gold and minerals to looted artwork.  

Susanne Renner, the primary creator of the examine, and an honorary professor of biology at Washington College in St. Louis, says her crew’s findings are simply as vital for the watermelon’s future as they’re about deciphering the mysteries of the fruit’s previous. 

“The watermelon is the incarnation of being fresh and full of water, yet initially grew in desert conditions,” she says. “These wild melons are clearly adapted to very harsh conditions: little water and a lot of warmth. So when we think about climate change, I think we can be sure that these plants have traits that could be valuable if we want to improve watermelon for drought conditions or harsh, warm summers.” 

Scientists additionally discovered that there have been variations in disease-resistant genes between the Kordofan melon and home watermelon varieties. Given the truth that modern-day staple fruit is very vulnerable to ailments, viruses, fungi and different pests, Renner says this genetic info may very well be an extra device to curb these vulnerabilities and study extra about how these genes have been misplaced by means of domestication.  

The following step, she says, shall be utilizing this info to breed new varieties. However given the truth that it’s a moderately expensive endeavor, Renner expects any future initiatives to breed new melons will probably contain a partnership between plant geneticists and a bigger plant-breeding firm. Both approach, she is assured her work shall be a constructing block for creating stronger meals inventory. 


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