Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 60, Issue 7, pp 2091–2100 | Cite as

Cytomolecular characterization of rDNA distribution in various Citrullus species using fluorescent in situ hybridization

  • Umesh K. Reddy
  • Nischit Aryal
  • Nurul Islam-Faridi
  • Yan R. Tomason
  • Amnon Levi
  • Padma Nimmakayala
Research Article


The 18S–28S and 5S rDNA sites are useful chromosome landmarks and provide valuable evidence about genome organization and evolution. This investigation was the first attempt to study the dynamics, distribution and directionality of rDNA gains and losses, as well as to understand the contribution of site number variation in the speciation of the genus Citrullus. In this study, we employed fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), using the18S–28S and 5S rDNA gene loci, to evaluate the differences between the (1) cultivated type watermelon C. lanatus var. lanatus (sweet watermelon), (2) the “bitter” desert watermelon C. colocynthis (colocynth) that is indigenous to the deserts of northern Africa, the Middle East and Asia, (3) the C. lanatus var. citroides (citron) “Tsamma” or “cow watermelon” that is known as and is indigenous to southern Africa, (4) and C. rehmii that thrive in the Namibian Desert. The FISH analyses showed that the sweet watermelon and colocynth have similar rDNA configuration. The sweet watermelon and colocynth genomes contain two 18S–28S rDNA gene loci, each located on a different chromosome, and one 5S rDNA locus which is co-localized with one of the 18S–28S rDNA gene loci. On the other hand, the C. rehmii has one 18S–28S rDNA locus and one 5S rDNA locus positioned on different chromosomes, while the citron has one18S–28S rDNA and two 5S rDNA loci, each located on a different chromosome. A FISH analysis of F1 (citron × sweet watermelon) chromosome spreads revealed uniparental homeologous rDNA gene copies pertaining to the sweet watermelon versus the citron chromosomes, with the sweet watermelon chromosome containing the 18S–28S and 5S rDNA locus versus the citron homologue chromosome that has the 5S rDNA locus, but not the 18S–28S rDNA locus. Genomic in situ hybridization (GISH) analysis, using the entire citron genome as a probe to be differentially hybridized on sweet watermelon chromosome spreads, revealed that the citron genomic probes mainly hybridize to subtelomeric and pericentromeric regions of the sweet watermelon chromosomes, suggesting extensive divergence between the citron and sweet watermelon genomes. The FISH and GISH cytogenetic analysis here indicate major differences in genome organization between the cultivated watermelon type sweet watermelon and its counterpart citron that thrive in southern Africa and considered a useful germplasm source for enhancing disease and pest resistance in watermelon cultivars.


Citrullus FISH rDNA organization 5S rDNA 18S–28S rDNA Watermelon 



The authors are grateful to Dr. Jarret, Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit, USDA-ARS, Griffin, GA, 30223 for providing the seeds of germplasm accessions. Funding support is provided by NSF-EPSCOR#1003907, Gus R. Douglass Institute and USDA-NIFA Research (2010-02247).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Umesh K. Reddy
    • 1
  • Nischit Aryal
    • 1
  • Nurul Islam-Faridi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yan R. Tomason
    • 1
  • Amnon Levi
    • 4
  • Padma Nimmakayala
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Gus R. Douglass InstituteWest Virginia State UniversityInstituteUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Forest ServiceWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecosystem Science and ManagementTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Vegetable LaboratoryUSDA, ARSCharlestonUSA

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