Genetic mapping of resistance to fusarium wilt and seed oil traits in watermelon
Meru, Geoffrey Mugambi
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Watermelon, (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai, a major horticultural crop in the world, is mainly grown for its flesh and seed consumption. Integration of marker assisted selection (MAS) in conventional breeding programs would accelerate the release of watermelon cultivars with improved nutrition and disease resistance. The current study aimed to elucidate the genetic factors associated with important seed nutrition traits and resistance to fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum (E.F. Sm.) W.C. Snyder & H.N. Han. in watermelon. Bi-parental mapping populations segregating for seed traits (seed oil percentage, kernel percentage and seed size) and resistance to fusarium wilt (races 1 and 2) were used to identify genomic regions associated with these traits on the watermelon draft genome. Several quantitative trait loci and candidate genes associated with these traits were identified and are potential targets in MAS. To utilize the molecular tools developed in the current study in MAS, a seed based genotyping method that allows for efficient selection of target traits was developed.