, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 201-211
Date: 21 Apr 2009

Improved watermelon quality using bottle gourd rootstock expressing a Ca2+ /H+ antiporter

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Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria Standl.) has been commonly used as a source of rootstock for watermelon. To improve its performance as a rootstock without adverse effects on the scion, the bottle gourd was genetically engineered using a modified Arabidopsis Ca2+/H+ exchanger sCAX2B. This transporter provides enhanced Ca2+ substrate specificity and decreased Mn2+ transport capability. Our previous work demonstrated that sCAX2B bottle gourds were more robust and nutrient dense than controls. Here, several cucurbit crops were test-grafted onto the transgenic bottle gourd to determine its effect on the scions. The grafted watermelons and melons onto the transgenic rootstocks appeared to show more robust growth than the controls 35 days after greenhouse transplanting. Watermelon fruits with the watermelon/transgenic bottle gourd (scion/rootstock) combination demonstrated higher osmotic pressure and more soluble solids than controls. These results suggest that sCAX2B expression in the bottle gourd rootstock facilitates improved watermelon quality through the translocation of nutrients and/or water toward enhancing the biomass of scion.