Progress in genetic improvement of citron watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides): a review

  • Richard Mantlo Ngwepe
  • Jacob MashiloEmail author
  • Hussein Shimelis
Notes on Neglected and Underutilized Crops


Citron watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides) is an important tropical crop belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. It possesses novel genes for biotic and abiotic stress tolerance and horticultural traits useful for breeding including sweet dessert watermelon. There is a lack of research priority limiting the genetic improvement and cultivar deployment of citron watermelon. Genetically diverse citron watermelon genetic resources are important to identify and select suitable genotypes for cultivar development incorporating horticultural attributes according to the needs and preferences of clients and marketplace. The objective of this review was to present progress on genetic improvement of citron watermelon with emphasis on cultivar development with biotic and abiotic stress resistance and desired horticultural attributes. Further, the review highlighted genetic and molecular resources in citron watermelon and other cross compatible cucurbits that may aid in accelerated breeding and cultivar release. Finally, the paper summarized research focus areas with potential to enhance effective utilization of citron watermelon genetic resources for targeted breeding of this crop or related taxa such as dessert watermelon.


Abiotic and biotic stresses Breeding Citrullus lanatus Citron watermelon Cucurbits Genetic improvement 



The Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (South Africa), and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are acknowledged for financial support of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Mantlo Ngwepe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jacob Mashilo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hussein Shimelis
    • 2
  1. 1.Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Towoomba Research Station, Crop Research DivisionBela-BelaSouth Africa
  2. 2.African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI)University of KwaZulu-NatalScottsville, PietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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