Melon (Cucumis melo L.) is a global crop in terms of economic importance and nutritional quality. The aim of this study was to explore the variability in metabolite and elemental composition of several commercial varieties of melon in various environmental conditions. Volatile and non-volatile metabolites as well as mineral elements were profiled in the flesh of mature fruit, employing a range of complementary analytical technologies. More than 1,000 metabolite signatures and 19 mineral elements were determined. Data analyses revealed variations related to factors such as variety, growing season, contrasting agricultural management practices (greenhouse vs. field with or without fruit thinning) and planting date. Two hundred and ninety-one analytes discriminated two contrasting varieties, one from the var. inodorous group and the other from the var. cantaloupensis group. Two hundred and eighty analytes discriminated a short shelf-life from a mid-shelf-life variety within the var. cantaloupensis group. Three hundred and twenty-seven analytes discriminated two seasons, and two hundred and fifty-two analytes discriminated two contrasting agricultural management practices. The affected compound families greatly depended on the factor studied. The compositional variability of identified or partially identified compounds was used to study metabolite and mineral element co-regulation using correlation networks. The results confirm that metabolome and mineral element profiling are useful diagnostic tools to characterize the quality of fruits cultivated under commercial conditions. They can also provide knowledge on fruit metabolism and the mechanisms of plant response to environmental modifications, thereby paving the way for metabolomics-guided improvement of cultural practices for better fruit quality.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allwood, J. W., Erban, A., de Koning, S., et al. (2009). Inter-laboratory reproducibility of fast gas chromatography-electron impact-time of flight mass spectrometry (GC-EI-TOF/MS) based plant metabolomics. Metabolomics, 5, 479–496.
Arun, K., Shankera, T., Cervantes, C., Loza-Taverac, H., & Avudainayagam, S. (2005). Chromium toxicity in plants. Environment International, 31, 739–753.
Aubert, C., & Bourger, N. (2004). Investigation of volatiles in Charentais Cantaloupe melons (Cucumis melo Var. cantalupensis). Characterization of aroma constituents in some cultivars. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52, 4522–4528.
Aubert, C., & Pitrat, M. (2006). Volatile compounds in the skin and pulp of Queen Anne’s pocket melon. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54, 8177–8182.
Beaulieu, J. C. (2005). Within-season volatile and quality differences in stored fresh-cut cantaloupe cultivars. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53, 8679–8687.
Biais, B., Allwood, J. W., Deborde, C., et al. (2009). 1H-NMR, GC-EI-TOF-MS and data set correlation for fruit metabolomics, application to spatial metabolite analysis in melon. Analytical Chemistry, 81, 2884–2894.
Broadley, M. R., White, P. J., Hammond, J. P., Zelko, I., & Lux, A. (2007). Zinc in plants. New Phytologist, 173, 677–702.
Burger, Y., Sa’ar, U., Paris, H. S., et al. (2006). Genetic variability for valuable fruit quality traits in Cucumis melo. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences, 54, 233–242.
Carrari, F., Baxter, C., Usadel, B., et al. (2006). Integrated analysis of metabolite and transcript levels reveals the metabolic shifts that underlie tomato fruit development and highlight regulatory aspects of metabolic network behavior. Plant Physiology, 142, 1380–1396.
Davies, H. V., Shepherd, L. V. T., Stewart, D., et al. (2010). Metabolome variability in crop plant species—When, where, how much and so what? Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 58, S54–S61.
De Vos, R. C. H., Hall, R., & Moing, A. (2011). Metabolomics of a model fruit: tomato. In R. Hall (Ed.), Biology of plant metabolomics (pp. 109–155). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Ltd.
De Vos, R. C. H., Moco, S., Lommen, A., et al. (2007). Untargeted large-scale plant metabolomics using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Nature Protocols, 2, 778–791.
Demiral, M. A., & Koseoglu, A. T. (2005). Effect of potassium on yield, fruit quality, and chemical composition of greenhouse-grown galia melon. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 28, 93–100.
Dufault, R. J., Korkmaz, A., Ward, B. K., & Hassell, R. L. (2006). Planting date and cultivar affect melon quality and productivity. HortScience, 41, 1559–1564.
Ezura, H. (2009). Tomato is a next-generation model plant for research and development. Journal of the Japanese Society for Horticultural Science, 78, 1–2.
Ezura, H., & Fukino, N. (2009). Research tools for functional genomics in melon (Cucumis melo L.): Current status and prospects. Plant Biotechnology, 26, 359–368.
Fan, T. W. M. (1996). Metabolite profiling by one- and two-dimensional NMR analysis of complex mixtures. Progress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, 28, 161–219.
Feigin, A. (1990). Interactive effects of salinity and ammonium/nitrate ratio on growth and chemical composition of melon plants. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 13, 1257–1269.
Feigin, A., Rylski, I., Meiri, A., & Shalhevet, J. (1987). Response of melon and tomato plants to chloride–nitrate ratio in saline nutrient solutions. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 10, 1787–1794.
Femandes, J. C., & Henriques, F. S. (1991). Biochemical, physiological, and structural effects of excess copper in plants. The Botanical Review, 57, 246–273.
Ferry-Dumazet, H., Gil, L., Deborde, C., et al. (2011). MeRy-B: A web knowledgebase for the storage, visualization, analysis and annotation of plant 1H-NMR metabolomic profiles. BMC Plant Biology, 11, 104.
Fish, W. W. & Bruton, B. D. (2010). Quantification of l-citrulline and other physiologic amino acids in watermelon and selected cucurbits. In Cucurbitacae 2010, Charleston, SC (pp. 152–154).
Gao, Z., & Schaffer, A. A. (1999). A novel alkaline alpha-galactosidase from melon fruit with a substrate preference for raffinose. Plant Physiology, 119, 979–987.
Gautier, H., Diakou-Verdin, V., Bénard, C., et al. (2008). How does tomato quality (sugar, acid, and nutritional quality) vary with ripening stage, temperature, and irradiance? Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56, 1241–1250.
Ghosh, D., Bhattacharya, B., Mukherjee, B., et al. (2002). Role of chromium supplementation in Indians with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 13, 690–697.
Gibon, Y., Rolin, D., Deborde, C., Bernillon, S. & Moing, A. (2012). New opportunities in metabolomics and biochemical phenotyping for plant systems biology. In U. Roessner (Ed.), Metabolomics: InTech. http://www.intechopen.com/articles/show/title/new-opportunities-in-metabolomics-and-biochemical-phenotyping-for-plant-systems-biology.
Gonda, I., Bar, E., Portnoy, V., et al. (2010). Branched-chain and aromatic amino acid catabolism into aroma volatiles in Cucumis melo L. fruit. Journal of Experimental Botany, 61, 1111–1123.
Guy, C., Kaplan, F., Kopka, J., Selbig, J., & Hincha, D. K. (2008). Metabolomics of temperature stress. Physiologia Plantarum, 132, 220–235.
Hagelstein, P., & Schultz, G. (1993). Leucine synthesis in spinach-chloroplasts: Partial characterization of 2-isopropylmalate synthase. Biological Chemistry Hoppe-Seyler, 374, 1105–1108.
Hall, R. D. (2011). Plant metabolomics in a nutshell: Potential and future challenges. In R. D. Hall (Ed.), Biology of plant metabolomics (pp. 1–24). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Hansch, R., & Mendel, R. R. (2009). Physiological functions of mineral micronutrients (Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe, Ni, Mo, B, Cl). Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 12, 259–266.
Hansen, T. H., Laursen, K. H., Persson, D. P., et al. (2009). Micro-scaled high-throughput digestion of plant tissue samples for multi-elemental analysis. Plant Methods, 5. doi:10.1186/1746-4811-1185-1112.
Harrigan, G., Martino-Catt, S., & Glenn, K. (2007). Metabolomics, metabolic diversity and genetic variation in crops. Metabolomics, 3, 259–272.
Hussain, D., Haydon, M. J., Wang, Y., et al. (2004). P-type ATPase heavy metal transporters with roles in essential zinc homeostasis in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 16, 1327–1339.
Husted, S., Persson, D. P., Laursen, K. H., et al. (2011). The role of atomic spectrometry in plant science. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 26, 52–79.
Igamberdiev, A. U., & Kleczkowski, L. A. (2006). Equilibration of adenylates in the mitochondrial intermembrane space maintains respiration and regulates cytosolic metabolism. Journal of Experimental Botany, 57, 2133–2141.
Jahangir, M., Kim, H. K., Choi, Y. H., & Verpoorte, R. (2008). Metabolomic response of Brassica rapa submitted to pre-harvest bacterial contamination. Food Chemistry, 107, 362–368.
Johnson, H. E., Broadhurst, D., Goodacre, R., & Smith, A. R. (2003). Metabolic fingerprinting of salt-stressed tomatoes. Phytochemistry, 62, 919–928.
Knowles, L., Trimble, M. R., & Knowles, N. R. (2001). Phosphorus status affects postharvest respiration, membrane permeability and lipid chemistry of European seedless cucumber fruit (Cucumis sativus L.). Postharvest Biology and Technology, 21, 179–188.
Krishnan, P., Kruger, N. J., & Ratcliffe, R. G. (2005). Metabolite fingerprinting and profiling in plants using NMR. Journal of Experimental Botany, 56, 255–265.
Laursen, K. H., Hansen, T. H., Persson, D. P., Schjoerring, J. K., & Husted, S. (2009). Multi-elemental fingerprinting of plant tissue by semi-quantitative ICP-MS and chemometrics. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 24, 1198–1207.
Leshem, Y.a. Y, Wills, R. B. H., & Ku, V. V.-V. (1998). Evidence for the function of the free radical gas—nitric oxide (NO•)—as an endogenous maturation and senescence regulating factor in higher plants. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 36, 825–833.
Lester, G. E. (2005). Whole plant applied potassium: effects on cantaloupe fruit sugar content and related human wellness compounds. In Proceedings of the fifth international postharvest symposium (pp. 487–492) Verona, Italy, 6–11 June, 2004. Leuven: International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS).
Lester, G. (2006). Consumer preference quality attributes of melon fruits. In Proceedings of the IVth international conference on managing quality in chains MQUIC 2006: Integrated view on fruits and vegetables quality (Vol. 1, pp. 175–181), Bangkok, Thailand, 7–10 August 2006.
Lester, G. E. (2008). Antioxidant, sugar, mineral, and phytonutrient concentrations across edible fruit tissues of orange-fleshed honeydew melon (Cucumis melo L.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56, 3694–3698.
Lester, G. E., & Crosby, K. M. (2002). Ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium content in postharvest green-flesh honeydew muskmelons: influence of cultivar, fruit size, soil type, and year. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 127, 843–847.
Lester, G. E., & Grusak, M. A. (1999). Postharvest application of calcium and magnesium to honeydew and netted muskmelons: effects on tissue ion concentrations, quality, and senescence. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 124, 545–552.
Lester, G. E., Jifon, J. L., & Makus, D. J. (2010). Impact of potassium nutrition on postharvest fruit quality: Melon (Cucumis melo L.) case study. Plant and Soil, 335, 117–131.
Lindon, J. C., Holmes, E., & Nicholson, J. K. (2001). Pattern recognition methods and applications in biomedical magnetic resonance. Progress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, 39, 1–40.
Liu, H.-F., Génard, M., Guichard, S., & Bertin, N. (2007). Model-assisted analysis of tomato fruit growth in relation to carbon and water fluxes. Journal of Experimental Botany, 58, 3567–3580.
Lommen, A. (2009). MetAlign: Interface-driven, versatile metabolomics tool for hyphenated full-scan mass spectrometry data preprocessing. Analytical Chemistry, 81, 3079–3086.
Macduff, J. H., Hopper, M. J., Wild, A., & Trim, F. E. (1987). Comparison of the effects of root temperature on nitrate and ammonium nutrition of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) in flowing solution culture. Journal of Experimental Botany, 38, 1104–1120.
Mitchell, D. E., Gadus, M. V., & Madore, M. A. (1992). Patterns of assimilate production and translocation in muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.). 1. Diurnal patterns. Plant Physiology, 99, 959–965.
Moco, S., Capanoglu, E., Tikunov, Y., et al. (2007). Tissue specialization at the metabolite level is perceived during the development of tomato fruit. Journal of Experimental Botany, 58, 4131–4146.
Moing, A., Aharoni, A., Biais, B., et al. (2011). Extensive metabolic cross talk in melon fruit revealed by spatial and developmental combinatorial metabolomics. New Phytologist, 190, 683–696.
Mounet, F., Lemaire-Chamley, M., Maucourt, M., et al. (2007). Quantitative metabolic profiles of tomato flesh and seeds during fruit development: Complementary analysis with ANN and PCA. Metabolomics, 3, 273–288.
Moyen, C., & Roblin, G. (2009). Uptake and translocation of strontium in hydroponically grown maize plants, and subsequent effects on tissue ion content, growth and chlorophyll a/b ratio: comparison with Ca effects. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 68, 247–257.
Obando-Ulloa, J. M., Moreno, E., Garcia-Mas, J., et al. (2008). Climacteric or non-climacteric behavior in melon fruit. 1. Aroma volatiles. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 49, 27–37.
Ortiz-Serrano, P., & Gil, J. V. (2009). Quantitative comparison of free and bound volatiles of two commercial tomato cultivars (Solanum lycopersicum L.) during ripening. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58, 1106–1114.
Pereira, G. E., Gaudillere, J. P., van Leeuven, C., et al. (2006). 1H NMR metabolic fingerprinting of grape berry: comparison of vintage and soil effects in Bordeaux grapevine growing areas. Analytica Chimica Acta, 563, 346–352.
Poiroux-Gonord, F., Bidel, L. P. R., Fanciullino, A. L., et al. (2010). Health benefits of vitamins and secondary metabolites of fruits and vegetables and prospects to increase their concentrations by agronomic approaches. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58, 12065–12082.
Portnoy, V., Benyamini, Y., Bar, E., et al. (2008). The molecular and biochemical basis for varietal variation in sesquiterpene content in melon (Cucumis melo L.) rinds. Plant Molecular Biology, 66, 647–661.
Rimando, A. M., & Perkins-Veazie, P. M. (2005). Determination of citrulline in watermelon rind. Journal of Chromatography A, 1078, 196–200.
Rowan, K. S., McGlasson, W. B., & Pratt, H. K. (1969). Changes in adenosine pyrophosphates in Cantaloupe fruit ripening normally and after treatment with ethylene. Journal of Experimental Botany, 20, 145–155.
Saeed, A. I., Bhagabati, N. K., Braisted, J. C., et al. (2006). TM4 microarray software suite. In A. R. Kimmel & B. Oliver (Eds.), Methods in enzymology. DNA microarrays, part B: Databases and statistics (pp. 134–193). Oxford: Academic Press.
Sarry, J.-E., & Ganata, Z. (2004). Plant and microbial glycoside hydrolases: Volatile release from glycosidic aroma precursors. Food Chemistry, 87, 509–521.
Schauer, N., Semel, Y., Roessner, U., et al. (2006). Comprehensive metabolic profiling and phenotyping of interspecific introgression lines for tomato improvement. Nature Biotechnology, 24, 447–454.
Shannon, P., Markiel, A., Ozier, O., et al. 2002. Cytoscape: A software environment for integrated models of biomolecular interaction networks. In Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on systems biology, ICSB 2002 (pp. 2498–2504), Stockholm, Sweden.
Shulaev, V., Cortes, D., Miller, G., & Mittler, R. (2008). Metabolomics for plant stress response. Physiologia Plantarum, 132, 199–208.
Stepansky, A., Kovalski, I., Schaffer, A. A., & Perl-Treves, R. (1999). Variation in sugar levels and invertase activity in mature fruit representing a broad spectrum of Cucumis melo genotypes. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 46, 53–62.
Stewart, D., Sheperd, L. V. T., Hall, R. D., & Fraser, P. D. (2011). Crops and tasty, nutritious food: How can metabolomics help? In R. D. Hall (Ed.), Biology of plant metabolomics (pp. 181–217). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Strehmel, N., Hummel, J., Erban, A., Strassburg, K., & Kopka, J. (2008). Retention index thresholds for compound matching in GC-MS metabolite profiling. Journal of Chromatography B-Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences, 871, 182–190.
Sumner, L. W., Amberg, A., Barrett, D., et al. (2007). Proposed minimum reporting standards for chemical analysis. Metabolomics, 3, 211–221.
Sumner, L. W., Mendes, P., & Dixon, R. A. (2003). Plant metabolomics: large-scale phytochemistry in the functional genomics era. Phytochemistry, 62, 817–836.
Sweetman, C., Deluc, L. G., Cramer, G. R., Ford, C. M., & Soole, K. L. (2009). Regulation of malate metabolism in grape berry and other developing fruits. Phytochemistry, 70, 1329–1344.
Tarazona-Díaz, M. P., Viegas, J., Moldao-Martins, M., & Aguayo, E. (2010). Bioactive compounds from flesh and by-product of fresh-cut watermelon cultivars. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 91, 805–812.
Taureilles-Saurel, C., Romieu, C. G., Robin, J.-P., & Flanzy, C. (1995). Grape (Vitis vinifera L.) malate dehydrogenase. II. Characterization of the major mitochondrial and cytosolic isoforms and their role in ripening. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 46, 29–36.
Tikunov, Y., Laptenok, S., Hall, R., Bovy, A., & de Vos, R. (2012). MSClust: A tool for unsupervised mass spectra extraction of chromatography–mass spectrometry ion-wise aligned data. Metabolomics. doi:10.1007/s11306-011-0368-2.
Tikunov, Y., Lommen, A., de Vos, C. H. R., et al. (2005). A novel approach for nontargeted data analysis for metabolomics. Large-scale profiling of tomato fruit volatiles. Plant Physiology, 139, 1125–1137.
Verhoeven, H. A., Jonker, H., de Vos, R. C. H., & Hall, R. D. (2012). Solid-phase micro-extraction (SPME) GC-MS analysis of natural volatile components in melon and rice. In N. G. Hardy & R. D. Hall (Eds.), Plant metabolomics methods. Ithaca: Humana Press.
Vincent, J. B. (2003). Recent advances in the biochemistry of chromium(III). Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine, 16, 227–236.
Wada, M. (1930). Über citrullin, eine neue aminosäure im presssaft der wassermelone. Citrullus vulgaris Schrad. Biochemische Zeitschrift, 224, 420.
Ward, J. L., Forcat, S., Beckmann, M., et al. (2010). The metabolic transition during disease following infection of Arabidopsis thaliana by Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. Plant Journal, 63, 443–457.
Weckwerth, W., Loureiro, M. E., Wenzel, K., & Fiehn, O. (2004). Differential metabolic networks unravel the effects of silent plant phenotypes. Proceedings of the National academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 7809–7814.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Bernillon, S., Biais, B., Deborde, C. et al. Metabolomic and elemental profiling of melon fruit quality as affected by genotype and environment. Metabolomics 9, 57–77 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11306-012-0429-1
- Cucumis melo
- Fruit quality
- Mineral elements