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1.  The Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae illustrated in medieval manuscripts known as the Tacuinum Sanitatis 
Annals of Botany  2009;103(8):1187-1205.
Background and Aims
Beginning in the last two decades of the 14th century, richly illuminated versions of the Tacuinum Sanitatis, the Latin translation of an 11th-century Arabic manuscript known as Taqwim al-Sihha bi al-Ashab al-Sitta, were produced in northern Italy. These illustrated manuscripts provide a window on late medieval life in that region by containing some 200 full-page illustrations, many of which vividly depict the harvest of vegetables, fruits, flowers, grains, aromatics and medicinal plants. Our objective was to search for and identify the images of taxa of Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae.
Methods
We have located all reported illustrated Tacuinum Sanitatis and similar or related manuscripts, searched through printed or electronic reproductions of them, categorized six of them that display full-page illustrations as archetypic, and established the identity of the Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae appearing in these six manuscripts.
Key Results and Conclusions
Of the Cucurbitaceae, Cucumis sativus (short-fruited cucumbers), Cucumis melo (including round as well as elongate melons), Citrullus lanatus (both sweet watermelons and citrons), and Lagenaria siceraria (including bottle-shaped as well as long gourds), are illustrated. Of the Solanaceae, Solanum melongena (egg-shaped purple aubergines) and Mandragora sp. (mandrake) are illustrated. These depictions include some of the earliest known images of cucumber, casaba melon (Cucumis melo Inodorous Group) and aubergine, each of which closely resembles an extant cultivar-group or market type. Overall, the botanically most accurate images are in the version of the Tacuinum located in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, cod. ser. n. 2644. Similarities and differences in botanical accuracy among the images of Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae in the six archetypal Tacuinum manuscripts suggest to us that another illustrated Tacuinum, now lost, may have antedated and served as a model or inspiration for the six surviving archetypic manuscripts.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcp055
PMCID: PMC2685323  PMID: 19318382
Citrullus lanatus; Cucumis melo; Cucumis sativus; Lagenaria siceraria; Solanum melongena; Mandragora sp.; medieval horticulture; history of horticulture
2.  Occidental diffusion of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) 500–1300 CE: two routes to Europe 
Annals of Botany  2011;109(1):117-126.
Background
The cucumber, Cucumis sativus, is one of the most widely consumed fruit vegetables the world over. The history of its dispersal to the Occident from its centre of origin, the Indian subcontinent, has been incorrectly understood for some time, due to the confusion of cucumbers with vegetable melons. Iconographic and literary evidence has shown that cucumber was absent in Roman times, up to 500 CE, but present in Europe by late medieval times, 1300. The objective of the present investigation was to determine more accurately when the cucumber arrived in Europe and by what route.
Findings and Conclusions
The evidence for the movement of C. sativus westward is entirely lexicographical until the 10th century. Syriac, Persian and Byzantine Greek sources suggest the presence of cucumbers, to the east and north-east of the Mediterranean Sea (modern Iran, Iraq and Turkey), by the 6th or 7th century. Arabic medical writings suggest the presence of cucumbers in Spain as early as the mid-9th century and in Tunisia by the early 10th century. Descriptive evidence in Arabic establishes the presence of cucumbers in Andalusia by the second half of the 10th century. Latin translations from Arabic sources indicate the presence of cucumbers in southern Italy by the second half of the 11th century. These writings, together with lexicographical discrepancies in names of cucurbits in late medieval Latin writings, suggest that cucumber was introduced to Europe by two independent diffusions. One diffusion appears to have been overland from Persia into eastern and northern Europe and preceded the Islamic conquests. The other, subsequent diffusion into western and southern Europe, was probably by a mostly maritime route from Persia or the Indian subcontinent into Andalusia.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcr281
PMCID: PMC3241595  PMID: 22104164
Crop diffusion; crop history; cucumber; Cucumis sativus
3.  Syntenic relationships between cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and melon (C. melo L.) chromosomes as revealed by comparative genetic mapping 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:396.
Background
Cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. (2n = 2 × = 14) and melon, C. melo L. (2n = 2 × = 24) are two important vegetable species in the genus Cucumis (family Cucurbitaceae). Both species have an Asian origin that diverged approximately nine million years ago. Cucumber is believed to have evolved from melon through chromosome fusion, but the details of this process are largely unknown. In this study, comparative genetic mapping between cucumber and melon was conducted to examine syntenic relationships of their chromosomes.
Results
Using two melon mapping populations, 154 and 127 cucumber SSR markers were added onto previously reported F2- and RIL-based genetic maps, respectively. A consensus melon linkage map was developed through map integration, which contained 401 co-dominant markers in 12 linkage groups including 199 markers derived from the cucumber genome. Syntenic relationships between melon and cucumber chromosomes were inferred based on associations between markers on the consensus melon map and cucumber draft genome scaffolds. It was determined that cucumber Chromosome 7 was syntenic to melon Chromosome I. Cucumber Chromosomes 2 and 6 each contained genomic regions that were syntenic with melon chromosomes III+V+XI and III+VIII+XI, respectively. Likewise, cucumber Chromosomes 1, 3, 4, and 5 each was syntenic with genomic regions of two melon chromosomes previously designated as II+XII, IV+VI, VII+VIII, and IX+X, respectively. However, the marker orders in several syntenic blocks on these consensus linkage maps were not co-linear suggesting that more complicated structural changes beyond simple chromosome fusion events have occurred during the evolution of cucumber.
Conclusions
Comparative mapping conducted herein supported the hypothesis that cucumber chromosomes may be the result of chromosome fusion from a 24-chromosome progenitor species. Except for a possible inversion, cucumber Chromosome 7 has largely remained intact in the past nine million years since its divergence from melon. Meanwhile, many structural changes may have occurred during the evolution of the remaining six cucumber chromosomes. Further characterization of the genomic nature of Cucumis species closely related to cucumber and melon might provide a better understanding of the evolutionary history leading to modern cucumber.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-396
PMCID: PMC3199783  PMID: 21816110
Cucumber; Melon; Cucumis; Microsatellite; Comparative mapping; Chromosome evolution
4.  The Cucurbits of Mediterranean Antiquity: Identification of Taxa from Ancient Images and Descriptions 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(7):1441-1457.
Background
A critical analysis was made of cucurbit descriptions in Dioscorides' De Materia Medica, Columella's De Re Rustica and Pliny's Historia Naturalis, works on medicine, agriculture and natural science of the 1st century ce, as well as the Mishna and Tosefta, compilations of rabbinic law derived from the same time period together with cucurbit images dating from antiquity including paintings, mosaics and sculpture. The goal was to identify taxonomically the Mediterranean cucurbits at the time of the Roman Empire.
Findings
By ancient times, long-fruited forms of Cucumis melo (melon) and Lagenaria siceraria (bottle gourd) were selected, cultivated and used as vegetables around the Mediterranean and, in addition, bottle-shaped fruits of L. siceraria were employed as vessels. Citrullus lanatus (watermelons) and round-fruited forms of Cucumis melo (melons) were also consumed, but less commonly. A number of cucurbit species, including Bryonia alba, B. dioica, Citrullus colocynthis and Ecballium elaterium, were employed for medicinal purposes. No unequivocal evidence was found to suggest the presence of Cucumis sativus (cucumber) in the Mediterranean area during this era. The cucumis of Columella and Pliny was not cucumber, as commonly translated, but Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group (snake melon or vegetable melon).
doi:10.1093/aob/mcm242
PMCID: PMC2759226  PMID: 17932073
Columella; De Re Rustica; Dioscorides; De Materia Medica; Pliny; Historia Naturalis; Mishna; Tosefta; plant iconography; Bryonia alba; Bryonia dioica; Citrullus colocynthis; Citrullus lanatus; Cucumis melo; Cucumis sativus; Ecballium elaterium; Lagenaria siceraria; Luffa cylindrica
5.  Medieval emergence of sweet melons, Cucumis melo (Cucurbitaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(1):23-33.
Background
Sweet melons, Cucumis melo, are a widely grown and highly prized crop. While melons were familiar in antiquity, they were grown mostly for use of the young fruits, which are similar in appearance and taste to cucumbers, C. sativus. The time and place of emergence of sweet melons is obscure, but they are generally thought to have reached Europe from the east near the end of the 15th century. The objective of the present work was to determine where and when truly sweet melons were first developed.
Methods
Given their large size and sweetness, melons are often confounded with watermelons, Citrullus lanatus, so a list was prepared of the characteristics distinguishing between them. An extensive search of literature from the Roman and medieval periods was conducted and the findings were considered in their context against this list and particularly in regard to the use of the word ‘melon’ and of adjectives for sweetness and colour.
Findings
Medieval lexicographies and an illustrated Arabic translation of Dioscorides' herbal suggest that sweet melons were present in Central Asia in the mid-9th century. A travelogue description indicates the presence of sweet melons in Khorasan and Persia by the mid-10th century. Agricultural literature from Andalusia documents the growing of sweet melons, evidently casabas (Inodorous Group), there by the second half of the 11th century, which probably arrived from Central Asia as a consequence of Islamic conquest, trade and agricultural development. Climate and geopolitical boundaries were the likely causes of the delay in the spread of sweet melons into the rest of Europe.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcs098
PMCID: PMC3380595  PMID: 22648880
Andalusia; crop diffusion; crop history; Cucumis melo; Cucurbitaceae; Khorasan; medieval travelogues; melon; Persia; plant lexicography
6.  Sequencing of 6.7 Mb of the melon genome using a BAC pooling strategy 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:246.
Background
Cucumis melo (melon) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose economic importance among horticulture crops is second only to Solanaceae. Melon has a high intra-specific genetic variation, morphologic diversity and a small genome size (454 Mb), which make it suitable for a great variety of molecular and genetic studies. A number of genetic and genomic resources have already been developed, such as several genetic maps, BAC genomic libraries, a BAC-based physical map and EST collections. Sequence information would be invaluable to complete the picture of the melon genomic landscape, furthering our understanding of this species' evolution from its relatives and providing an important genetic tool. However, to this day there is little sequence data available, only a few melon genes and genomic regions are deposited in public databases. The development of massively parallel sequencing methods allows envisaging new strategies to obtain long fragments of genomic sequence at higher speed and lower cost than previous Sanger-based methods.
Results
In order to gain insight into the structure of a significant portion of the melon genome we set out to perform massive sequencing of pools of BAC clones. For this, a set of 57 BAC clones from a double haploid line was sequenced in two pools with the 454 system using both shotgun and paired-end approaches. The final assembly consists of an estimated 95% of the actual size of the melon BAC clones, with most likely complete sequences for 50 of the BACs, and a total sequence coverage of 39x. The accuracy of the assembly was assessed by comparing the previously available Sanger sequence of one of the BACs against its 454 sequence, and the polymorphisms found involved only 1.7 differences every 10,000 bp that were localized in 15 homopolymeric regions and two dinucleotide tandem repeats. Overall, the study provides approximately 6.7 Mb or 1.5% of the melon genome. The analysis of this new data has allowed us to gain further insight into characteristics of the melon genome such as gene density, average protein length, or microsatellite and transposon content. The annotation of the BAC sequences revealed a high degree of collinearity and protein sequence identity between melon and its close relative Cucumis sativus (cucumber). Transposon content analysis of the syntenic regions suggests that transposition activity after the split of both cucurbit species has been low in cucumber but very high in melon.
Conclusions
The results presented here show that the strategy followed, which combines shotgun and BAC-end sequencing together with anchored marker information, is an excellent method for sequencing specific genomic regions, especially from relatively compact genomes such as that of melon. However, in agreement with other results, this map-based, BAC approach is confirmed to be an expensive way of sequencing a whole plant genome. Our results also provide a partial description of the melon genome's structure. Namely, our analysis shows that the melon genome is highly collinear with the smaller one of cucumber, the size difference being mainly due to the expansion of intergenic regions and proliferation of transposable elements.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-246
PMCID: PMC3095328  PMID: 21073723
7.  A Conserved Ethylene Biosynthesis Enzyme Leads to Andromonoecy in Two Cucumis Species 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6144.
Andromonoecy is a widespread sexual system in angiosperms, characterized by plants carrying both male and bisexual flowers. Monoecy is characterized by the presence of both male and female flowers on the same plant. In cucumber, these sexual forms are controlled by the identity of the alleles at the M locus. In melon, we recently showed that the transition from monoecy to andromonoecy result from a mutation in 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase (ACS) gene, CmACS-7. To isolate the andromonoecy gene in cucumber we used a candidate gene approach in combination with genetical and biochemical analysis. We demonstrated co-segregation of CsACS2, a close homolog of CmACS-7, with the M locus. Sequence analysis of CsACS2 in cucumber accessions identified four CsACS2 isoforms, three in andromonoecious and one in monoecious lines. To determine whether the andromonoecious phenotype is due to a loss of ACS enzymatic activity, we expressed the four isoforms in Escherichia coli and assayed their activity in vitro. Like in melon, the isoforms from the andromonoecious lines showed reduced to no enzymatic activity and the isoform from the monoecious line was active. Consistent with this, the mutations leading andromonoecy were clustered in the active site of the enzyme. Based on this, we concluded that active CsACS2 enzyme leads to the development of female flowers in monoecious lines, whereas a reduction of enzymatic activity yields hermaphrodite flowers. Consistent with this, CsACS2, like CmACS-7 in melon, is expressed specifically in carpel primordia of buds determined to develop carpels. Following ACS expression, inter-organ communication is likely responsible for the inhibition of stamina development. In both melon and cucumber, flower unisexuality seems to be the ancestral situation, as the majority of Cucumis species are monoecious. Thus, the ancestor gene of CmACS-7/CsACS2 likely have controlled the stamen development before speciation of Cucumis sativus (cucumber) and Cucumis melo (melon) that have diverged over 40 My ago. The isolation of the genes for andromonoecy in Cucumis species provides a molecular basis for understanding how sexual systems arise and are maintained within and between species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006144
PMCID: PMC2701604  PMID: 19578542
8.  Analysis of expressed sequence tags generated from full-length enriched cDNA libraries of melon 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:252.
Background
Melon (Cucumis melo), an economically important vegetable crop, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family which includes several other important crops such as watermelon, cucumber, and pumpkin. It has served as a model system for sex determination and vascular biology studies. However, genomic resources currently available for melon are limited.
Result
We constructed eleven full-length enriched and four standard cDNA libraries from fruits, flowers, leaves, roots, cotyledons, and calluses of four different melon genotypes, and generated 71,577 and 22,179 ESTs from full-length enriched and standard cDNA libraries, respectively. These ESTs, together with ~35,000 ESTs available in public domains, were assembled into 24,444 unigenes, which were extensively annotated by comparing their sequences to different protein and functional domain databases, assigning them Gene Ontology (GO) terms, and mapping them onto metabolic pathways. Comparative analysis of melon unigenes and other plant genomes revealed that 75% to 85% of melon unigenes had homologs in other dicot plants, while approximately 70% had homologs in monocot plants. The analysis also identified 6,972 gene families that were conserved across dicot and monocot plants, and 181, 1,192, and 220 gene families specific to fleshy fruit-bearing plants, the Cucurbitaceae family, and melon, respectively. Digital expression analysis identified a total of 175 tissue-specific genes, which provides a valuable gene sequence resource for future genomics and functional studies. Furthermore, we identified 4,068 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and 3,073 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the melon EST collection. Finally, we obtained a total of 1,382 melon full-length transcripts through the analysis of full-length enriched cDNA clones that were sequenced from both ends. Analysis of these full-length transcripts indicated that sizes of melon 5' and 3' UTRs were similar to those of tomato, but longer than many other dicot plants. Codon usages of melon full-length transcripts were largely similar to those of Arabidopsis coding sequences.
Conclusion
The collection of melon ESTs generated from full-length enriched and standard cDNA libraries is expected to play significant roles in annotating the melon genome. The ESTs and associated analysis results will be useful resources for gene discovery, functional analysis, marker-assisted breeding of melon and closely related species, comparative genomic studies and for gaining insights into gene expression patterns.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-252
PMCID: PMC3118787  PMID: 21599934
9.  The Cucurbit Images (1515–1518) of the Villa Farnesina, Rome 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(2):165-176.
• Background The gorgeous frescoes organized by the master Renaissance painter Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520) and illustrating the heavenly adventures of Cupid and Psyche were painted between 1515 and 1518 to decorate the Roman villa (now known as the Villa Farnesina) of the wealthy Sienese banker Agostino Chigi (1466–1520). Surrounding these paintings are festoons of fruits, vegetables and flowers painted by Giovanni Martini da Udine (1487–1564), which include over 170 species of plants. A deconstruction and collation of the cucurbit images in the festoons makes it possible to evaluate the genetic diversity of cucurbits in Renaissance Italy 500 years ago.
• Findings The festoons contain six species of Old World cucurbits, Citrullus lanatus (watermelon), Cucumis melo (melon), Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Ecballium elaterium (squirting cucumber), Lagenaria siceraria (bottle gourd) and Momordica balsamina (balsam apple), and two or three species of New World cucurbits, Cucurbita maxima, C. pepo and, perhaps, C. moschata (pumpkin, squash, gourd). The images of C. maxima are the first illustrations of this species in Europe.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcj025
PMCID: PMC2803371  PMID: 16314340
Citrullus lanatus; Cucumis melo; Cucumis sativus; Cucurbita maxima; Cucurbita pepo; Ecballium elaterium; Lagenaria siceraria; Momordica balsamina; Cucurbitaceae; Agostino Chigi; Giovanni Martini da Udine
10.  Phylogenetics of Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae): Cucumber (C. sativus) belongs in an Asian/Australian clade far from melon (C. melo) 
Background
Melon, Cucumis melo, and cucumber, C. sativus, are among the most widely cultivated crops worldwide. Cucumis, as traditionally conceived, is geographically centered in Africa, with C. sativus and C. hystrix thought to be the only Cucumis species in Asia. This taxonomy forms the basis for all ongoing Cucumis breeding and genomics efforts. We tested relationships among Cucumis and related genera based on DNA sequences from chloroplast gene, intron, and spacer regions (rbcL, matK, rpl20-rps12, trnL, and trnL-F), adding nuclear internal transcribed spacer sequences to resolve relationships within Cucumis.
Results
Analyses of combined chloroplast sequences (4,375 aligned nucleotides) for 123 of the 130 genera of Cucurbitaceae indicate that the genera Cucumella, Dicaelospermum, Mukia, Myrmecosicyos, and Oreosyce are embedded within Cucumis. Phylogenetic trees from nuclear sequences for these taxa are congruent, and the combined data yield a well-supported phylogeny. The nesting of the five genera in Cucumis greatly changes the natural geographic range of the genus, extending it throughout the Malesian region and into Australia. The closest relative of Cucumis is Muellerargia, with one species in Australia and Indonesia, the other in Madagascar. Cucumber and its sister species, C. hystrix, are nested among Australian, Malaysian, and Western Indian species placed in Mukia or Dicaelospermum and in one case not yet formally described. Cucumis melo is sister to this Australian/Asian clade, rather than being close to African species as previously thought. Molecular clocks indicate that the deepest divergences in Cucumis, including the split between C. melo and its Australian/Asian sister clade, go back to the mid-Eocene.
Conclusion
Based on congruent nuclear and chloroplast phylogenies we conclude that Cucumis comprises an old Australian/Asian component that was heretofore unsuspected. Cucumis sativus evolved within this Australian/Asian clade and is phylogenetically far more distant from C. melo than implied by the current morphological classification.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-58
PMCID: PMC3225884  PMID: 17425784
11.  A 1,681-locus consensus genetic map of cultivated cucumber including 67 NB-LRR resistance gene homolog and ten gene loci 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:53.
Background
Cucumber is an important vegetable crop that is susceptible to many pathogens, but no disease resistance (R) genes have been cloned. The availability of whole genome sequences provides an excellent opportunity for systematic identification and characterization of the nucleotide binding and leucine-rich repeat (NB-LRR) type R gene homolog (RGH) sequences in the genome. Cucumber has a very narrow genetic base making it difficult to construct high-density genetic maps. Development of a consensus map by synthesizing information from multiple segregating populations is a method of choice to increase marker density. As such, the objectives of the present study were to identify and characterize NB-LRR type RGHs, and to develop a high-density, integrated cucumber genetic-physical map anchored with RGH loci.
Results
From the Gy14 draft genome, 70 NB-containing RGHs were identified and characterized. Most RGHs were in clusters with uneven distribution across seven chromosomes. In silico analysis indicated that all 70 RGHs had EST support for gene expression. Phylogenetic analysis classified 58 RGHs into two clades: CNL and TNL. Comparative analysis revealed high-degree sequence homology and synteny in chromosomal locations of these RGH members between the cucumber and melon genomes.
Fifty-four molecular markers were developed to delimit 67 of the 70 RGHs, which were integrated into a genetic map through linkage analysis. A 1,681-locus cucumber consensus map including 10 gene loci and spanning 730.0 cM in seven linkage groups was developed by integrating three component maps with a bin-mapping strategy. Physically, 308 scaffolds with 193.2 Mbp total DNA sequences were anchored onto this consensus map that covered 52.6% of the 367 Mbp cucumber genome.
Conclusions
Cucumber contains relatively few NB-LRR RGHs that are clustered and unevenly distributed in the genome. All RGHs seem to be transcribed and shared significant sequence homology and synteny with the melon genome suggesting conservation of these RGHs in the Cucumis lineage. The 1,681-locus consensus genetic-physical map developed and the RGHs identified and characterized herein are valuable genomics resources that may have many applications such as quantitative trait loci identification, map-based gene cloning, association mapping, marker-assisted selection, as well as assembly of a more complete cucumber genome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-53
PMCID: PMC3626583  PMID: 23531125
Cucumber; Cucumis sativus; NB-LRR; Resistance gene homolog; Genetic mapping; Comparative mapping; Map integration
12.  Determination of the melon chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences reveals that the largest reported mitochondrial genome in plants contains a significant amount of DNA having a nuclear origin 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:424.
Background
The melon belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose economic importance among vegetable crops is second only to Solanaceae. The melon has a small genome size (454 Mb), which makes it suitable for molecular and genetic studies. Despite similar nuclear and chloroplast genome sizes, cucurbits show great variation when their mitochondrial genomes are compared. The melon possesses the largest plant mitochondrial genome, as much as eight times larger than that of other cucurbits.
Results
The nucleotide sequences of the melon chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes were determined. The chloroplast genome (156,017 bp) included 132 genes, with 98 single-copy genes dispersed between the small (SSC) and large (LSC) single-copy regions and 17 duplicated genes in the inverted repeat regions (IRa and IRb). A comparison of the cucumber and melon chloroplast genomes showed differences in only approximately 5% of nucleotides, mainly due to short indels and SNPs. Additionally, 2.74 Mb of mitochondrial sequence, accounting for 95% of the estimated mitochondrial genome size, were assembled into five scaffolds and four additional unscaffolded contigs. An 84% of the mitochondrial genome is contained in a single scaffold. The gene-coding region accounted for 1.7% (45,926 bp) of the total sequence, including 51 protein-coding genes, 4 conserved ORFs, 3 rRNA genes and 24 tRNA genes. Despite the differences observed in the mitochondrial genome sizes of cucurbit species, Citrullus lanatus (379 kb), Cucurbita pepo (983 kb) and Cucumis melo (2,740 kb) share 120 kb of sequence, including the predicted protein-coding regions. Nevertheless, melon contained a high number of repetitive sequences and a high content of DNA of nuclear origin, which represented 42% and 47% of the total sequence, respectively.
Conclusions
Whereas the size and gene organisation of chloroplast genomes are similar among the cucurbit species, mitochondrial genomes show a wide variety of sizes, with a non-conserved structure both in gene number and organisation, as well as in the features of the noncoding DNA. The transfer of nuclear DNA to the melon mitochondrial genome and the high proportion of repetitive DNA appear to explain the size of the largest mitochondrial genome reported so far.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-424
PMCID: PMC3175227  PMID: 21854637
13.  An Integrated Genetic and Cytogenetic Map of the Cucumber Genome 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5795.
The Cucurbitaceae includes important crops such as cucumber, melon, watermelon, squash and pumpkin. However, few genetic and genomic resources are available for plant improvement. Some cucurbit species such as cucumber have a narrow genetic base, which impedes construction of saturated molecular linkage maps. We report herein the development of highly polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers originated from whole genome shotgun sequencing and the subsequent construction of a high-density genetic linkage map. This map includes 995 SSRs in seven linkage groups which spans in total 573 cM, and defines ∼680 recombination breakpoints with an average of 0.58 cM between two markers. These linkage groups were then assigned to seven corresponding chromosomes using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). FISH assays also revealed a chromosomal inversion between Cucumis subspecies [C. sativus var. sativus L. and var. hardwickii (R.) Alef], which resulted in marker clustering on the genetic map. A quarter of the mapped markers showed relatively high polymorphism levels among 11 inbred lines of cucumber. Among the 995 markers, 49%, 26% and 22% were conserved in melon, watermelon and pumpkin, respectively. This map will facilitate whole genome sequencing, positional cloning, and molecular breeding in cucumber, and enable the integration of knowledge of gene and trait in cucurbits.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005795
PMCID: PMC2685989  PMID: 19495411
14.  Organization of highly repetitive satellite DNA of two Cucurbitaceae species (Cucumis melo and Cucumis sativus). 
Nucleic Acids Research  1982;10(2):631-644.
The prominent satellites of the Cucurbitaceae Cucumis melo (melon) and Cucumis sativus (cucumber) have been characterized, in actinomycin/CsCl gradients where the satellite sequences can be separated from ribosomal, organelle, and main band DNA the location of the satellites is different indicating a different GC content. The purified satellite of C. melo is cut by HindIII into a repeat unit of 380 bp; AluI digestion gives rise to two bands (about 80 and 220 bp in size). The HindIII repeat unit if cloned into pBR325 exhibits new recognition sites for HpaII leaving two bands with 150 and 80 bp suggesting methylation of the C/CGG cutting site in the uncloned material. The restriction pattern indicates an internal sequence repeat within the 380 bp HindIII fragment. The C. sativus satellite is cut by AluI to a repeat unit of 180 bp showing no other recognition site for the restriction enzymes tested so far. About 10% sequence homology has been determined between the C. melo and C. sativus satellites by cross hybridization studies. A high methylation degree of cytosines has been measured for both satellites and the ribosomal DNA of C. sativus (about 30%). No transcription products of the C. melo satellite were found during seedling development.
Images
PMCID: PMC326162  PMID: 6278425
15.  Genome-wide characterization of simple sequence repeats in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:569.
Background
Cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. is an important vegetable crop worldwide. Until very recently, cucumber genetic and genomic resources, especially molecular markers, have been very limited, impeding progress of cucumber breeding efforts. Microsatellites are short tandemly repeated DNA sequences, which are frequently favored as genetic markers due to their high level of polymorphism and codominant inheritance. Data from previously characterized genomes has shown that these repeats vary in frequency, motif sequence, and genomic location across taxa. During the last year, the genomes of two cucumber genotypes were sequenced including the Chinese fresh market type inbred line '9930' and the North American pickling type inbred line 'Gy14'. These sequences provide a powerful tool for developing markers in a large scale. In this study, we surveyed and characterized the distribution and frequency of perfect microsatellites in 203 Mbp assembled Gy14 DNA sequences, representing 55% of its nuclear genome, and in cucumber EST sequences. Similar analyses were performed in genomic and EST data from seven other plant species, and the results were compared with those of cucumber.
Results
A total of 112,073 perfect repeats were detected in the Gy14 cucumber genome sequence, accounting for 0.9% of the assembled Gy14 genome, with an overall density of 551.9 SSRs/Mbp. While tetranucleotides were the most frequent microsatellites in genomic DNA sequence, dinucleotide repeats, which had more repeat units than any other SSR type, had the highest cumulative sequence length. Coding regions (ESTs) of the cucumber genome had fewer microsatellites compared to its genomic sequence, with trinucleotides predominating in EST sequences. AAG was the most frequent repeat in cucumber ESTs. Overall, AT-rich motifs prevailed in both genomic and EST data. Compared to the other species examined, cucumber genomic sequence had the highest density of SSRs (although comparable to the density of poplar, grapevine and rice), and was richest in AT dinucleotides. Using an electronic PCR strategy, we investigated the polymorphism between 9930 and Gy14 at 1,006 SSR loci, and found unexpectedly high degree of polymorphism (48.3%) between the two genotypes. The level of polymorphism seems to be positively associated with the number of repeat units in the microsatellite. The in silico PCR results were validated empirically in 660 of the 1,006 SSR loci. In addition, primer sequences for more than 83,000 newly-discovered cucumber microsatellites, and their exact positions in the Gy14 genome assembly were made publicly available.
Conclusions
The cucumber genome is rich in microsatellites; AT and AAG are the most abundant repeat motifs in genomic and EST sequences of cucumber, respectively. Considering all the species investigated, some commonalities were noted, especially within the monocot and dicot groups, although the distribution of motifs and the frequency of certain repeats were characteristic of the species examined. The large number of SSR markers developed from this study should be a significant contribution to the cucurbit research community.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-569
PMCID: PMC3091718  PMID: 20950470
16.  Development of a Cucumis sativus TILLinG Platform for Forward and Reverse Genetics 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97963.
Background
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family that includes more than 800 species. The cucumber genome has been recently sequenced and annotated. Transcriptomics and genome sequencing of many plant genomes are providing information on candidate genes potentially related to agronomically important traits. To accelerate functional characterization of these genes in cucumber we have generated an EMS mutant population that can be used as a TILLinG platform for reverse genetics.
Principal Findings
A population of 3,331 M2 mutant seed families was generated using two EMS concentrations (0.5% and 0.75%). Genomic DNA was extracted from M2 families and eight-fold pooled for mutation detection by ENDO1 nuclease. To assess the quality of the mutant collection, we screened for induced mutations in five genes and identified 26 mutations. The average mutation rate was calculated as 1/1147 Kb giving rise to approximately 320 mutations per genome. We focused our characterization on three missense mutations, G33C, S238F and S249F identified in the CsACS2 sex determination gene. Protein modeling and crystallography studies predicted that mutation at G33 may affect the protein function, whereas mutations at S238 and S249 may not impair the protein function. As predicted, detailed phenotypic evaluation showed that the S238F and the S249F mutant lines had no sexual phenotype. In contrast, plants homozygous for the G33C mutation showed a complete sexual transition from monoecy to andromonoecy. This result demonstrates that TILLinG is a valuable tool for functional validation of gene function in crops recalcitrant to transgenic transformation.
Conclusions
We have developed a cucumber mutant population that can be used as an efficient reverse genetics tool. The cucumber TILLinG collection as well as the previously described melon TILLinG collection will prove to be a valuable resource for both fundamental research and the identification of agronomically-important genes for crop improvement in cucurbits in general.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097963
PMCID: PMC4024006  PMID: 24835852
17.  MELOGEN: an EST database for melon functional genomics 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:306.
Background
Melon (Cucumis melo L.) is one of the most important fleshy fruits for fresh consumption. Despite this, few genomic resources exist for this species. To facilitate the discovery of genes involved in essential traits, such as fruit development, fruit maturation and disease resistance, and to speed up the process of breeding new and better adapted melon varieties, we have produced a large collection of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from eight normalized cDNA libraries from different tissues in different physiological conditions.
Results
We determined over 30,000 ESTs that were clustered into 16,637 non-redundant sequences or unigenes, comprising 6,023 tentative consensus sequences (contigs) and 10,614 unclustered sequences (singletons). Many potential molecular markers were identified in the melon dataset: 1,052 potential simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and 356 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found. Sixty-nine percent of the melon unigenes showed a significant similarity with proteins in databases. Functional classification of the unigenes was carried out following the Gene Ontology scheme. In total, 9,402 unigenes were mapped to one or more ontology. Remarkably, the distributions of melon and Arabidopsis unigenes followed similar tendencies, suggesting that the melon dataset is representative of the whole melon transcriptome. Bioinformatic analyses primarily focused on potential precursors of melon micro RNAs (miRNAs) in the melon dataset, but many other genes potentially controlling disease resistance and fruit quality traits were also identified. Patterns of transcript accumulation were characterised by Real-Time-qPCR for 20 of these genes.
Conclusion
The collection of ESTs characterised here represents a substantial increase on the genetic information available for melon. A database (MELOGEN) which contains all EST sequences, contig images and several tools for analysis and data mining has been created. This set of sequences constitutes also the basis for an oligo-based microarray for melon that is being used in experiments to further analyse the melon transcriptome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-306
PMCID: PMC2034596  PMID: 17767721
18.  Development of microsatellite markers from an enriched genomic library for genetic analysis of melon (Cucumis melo L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:9.
Background
Despite the great advances in genomic technology observed in several crop species, the availability of molecular tools such as microsatellite markers has been limited in melon (Cucumis melo L.) and cucurbit species. The development of microsatellite markers will have a major impact on genetic analysis and breeding of melon, especially on the generation of marker saturated genetic maps and implementation of marker assisted breeding programs. Genomic microsatellite enriched libraries can be an efficient alternative for marker development in such species.
Results
Seven hundred clones containing microsatellite sequences from a Tsp-AG/TC microsatellite enriched library were identified and one-hundred and forty-four primer pairs designed and synthesized. When 67 microsatellite markers were tested on a panel of melon and other cucurbit accessions, 65 revealed DNA polymorphisms among the melon accessions. For some cucurbit species, such as Cucumis sativus, up to 50% of the melon microsatellite markers could be readily used for DNA polymophism assessment, representing a significant reduction of marker development costs. A random sample of 25 microsatellite markers was extracted from the new microsatellite marker set and characterized on 40 accessions of melon, generating an allelic frequency database for the species. The average expected heterozygosity was 0.52, varying from 0.45 to 0.70, indicating that a small set of selected markers should be sufficient to solve questions regarding genotype identity and variety protection. Genetic distances based on microsatellite polymorphism were congruent with data obtained from RAPD marker analysis. Mapping analysis was initiated with 55 newly developed markers and most primers showed segregation according to Mendelian expectations. Linkage analysis detected linkage between 56% of the markers, distributed in nine linkage groups.
Conclusions
Genomic library microsatellite enrichment is an efficient procedure for marker development in melon. One-hundred and forty-four new markers were developed from Tsp-AG/TC genomic library. This is the first reported attempt of successfully using enriched library for microsatellite marker development in the species. A sample of the microsatellite markers tested proved efficient for genetic analysis of melon, including genetic distance estimates and identity tests. Linkage analysis indicated that the markers developed are dispersed throughout the genome and should be very useful for genetic analysis of melon.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-4-9
PMCID: PMC419974  PMID: 15149552
19.  DNA Fingerprinting of Chinese Melon Provides Evidentiary Support of Seed Quality Appraisal 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52431.
Melon, Cucumis melo L. is an important vegetable crop worldwide. At present, there are phenomena of homonyms and synonyms present in the melon seed markets of China, which could cause variety authenticity issues influencing the process of melon breeding, production, marketing and other aspects. Molecular markers, especially microsatellites or simple sequence repeats (SSRs) are playing increasingly important roles for cultivar identification. The aim of this study was to construct a DNA fingerprinting database of major melon cultivars, which could provide a possibility for the establishment of a technical standard system for purity and authenticity identification of melon seeds. In this study, to develop the core set SSR markers, 470 polymorphic SSRs were selected as the candidate markers from 1219 SSRs using 20 representative melon varieties (lines). Eighteen SSR markers, evenly distributed across the genome and with the highest contents of polymorphism information (PIC) were identified as the core marker set for melon DNA fingerprinting analysis. Fingerprint codes for 471 melon varieties (lines) were established. There were 51 materials which were classified into17 groups based on sharing the same fingerprint code, while field traits survey results showed that these plants in the same group were synonyms because of the same or similar field characters. Furthermore, DNA fingerprinting quick response (QR) codes of 471 melon varieties (lines) were constructed. Due to its fast readability and large storage capacity, QR coding melon DNA fingerprinting is in favor of read convenience and commercial applications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052431
PMCID: PMC3527501  PMID: 23285039
20.  EcoTILLING for the identification of allelic variants of melon eIF4E, a factor that controls virus susceptibility 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:34.
Background
Translation initiation factors of the 4E and 4G protein families mediate resistance to several RNA plant viruses in the natural diversity of crops. Particularly, a single point mutation in melon eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) controls resistance to Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV) in melon. Identification of allelic variants within natural populations by EcoTILLING has become a rapid genotype discovery method.
Results
A collection of Cucumis spp. was characterised for susceptibility to MNSV and Cucumber vein yellowing virus (CVYV) and used for the implementation of EcoTILLING to identify new allelic variants of eIF4E. A high conservation of eIF4E exonic regions was found, with six polymorphic sites identified out of EcoTILLING 113 accessions. Sequencing of regions surrounding polymorphisms revealed that all of them corresponded to silent nucleotide changes and just one to a non-silent change correlating with MNSV resistance. Except for the MNSV case, no correlation was found between variation of eIF4E and virus resistance, suggesting the implication of different and/or additional genes in previously identified resistance phenotypes. We have also characterized a new allele of eIF4E from Cucumis zeyheri, a wild relative of melon. Functional analyses suggested that this new eIF4E allele might be responsible for resistance to MNSV.
Conclusion
This study shows the applicability of EcoTILLING in Cucumis spp., but given the conservation of eIF4E, new candidate genes should probably be considered to identify new sources of resistance to plant viruses. Part of the methodology described here could alternatively be used in TILLING experiments that serve to generate new eIF4E alleles.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-7-34
PMCID: PMC1914064  PMID: 17584936
21.  The melon fruit fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae: A review of its biology and management 
The melon fruit fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett) (Diptera: Tephritidae) is distributed widely in temperate, tropical, and sub-tropical regions of the world. It has been reported to damage 81 host plants and is a major pest of cucurbitaceous vegetables, particularly the bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), muskmelon (Cucumis melo), snap melon (C. melo var. momordica), and snake gourd (Trichosanthes anguina). The extent of losses vary between 30 to 100%, depending on the cucurbit species and the season. Its abundance increases when the temperatures fall below 32° C, and the relative humidity ranges between 60 to 70%. It prefers to infest young, green, soft-skinned fruits. It inserts the eggs 2 to 4 mm deep in the fruit tissues, and the maggots feed inside the fruit. Pupation occurs in the soil at 0.5 to 15 cm below the soil surface. Keeping in view the importance of the pest and crop, melon fruit fly management could be done using local area management and wide area management. The melon fruit fly can successfully be managed over a local area by bagging fruits, field sanitation, protein baits, cue-lure traps, growing fruit fly-resistant genotypes, augmentation of biocontrol agents, and soft insecticides. The wide area management program involves the coordination of different characteristics of an insect eradication program (including local area options) over an entire area within a defensible perimeter, and subsequently protected against reinvasion by quarantine controls. Although, the sterile insect technique has been successfully used in wide area approaches, this approach needs to use more sophisticated and powerful technologies in eradication programs such as insect transgenesis and geographical information systems, which could be deployed over a wide area. Various other options for the management of fruit fly are also discussed in relation to their bio-efficacy and economics for effective management of this pest.
PMCID: PMC1615247  PMID: 17119622
host range; distribution; sterile insect technique; insect-transgenesis; management
22.  Molecular characterization of pathogenic Fusarium species in cucurbit plants from Kermanshah province, Iran 
Fusarium is one of the important phytopathogenic genera of microfungi causing serious losses on cucurbit plants in Kermanshah province, the largest area of cucurbits plantation in Iran. Therefore, the objectives in this study were to isolate and identify disease-causing Fusarium spp. from infected cucurbit plants, to ascertain their pathogenicity, and to determine their phylogenetic relationships. A total of 100 Fusarium isolates were obtained from diseased cucurbit plants collected from fields in different geographic regions in Kermanshah province, Iran. According to morphological characters, all isolates were identified as Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium proliferatum, Fusarium equiseti, Fusarium semitectum and Fusarium solani. All isolates of the five Fusarium spp. were evaluated for their pathogenicity on healthy cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and honeydew melon (Cucumis melo) seedlings in the glasshouse. F. oxysporum caused damping-off in 20–35 days on both cucurbit seedlings tested. Typical stem rot symptoms were observed within 15 days after inoculation with F. solani on both seedlings. Based on the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis, the five Fusarium species were divided into two major groups. In particular, isolates belonging to the F. solani species complex (FSSC) were separated into two RFLP types. Grouping among Fusarium strains derived from restriction analysis was in agreement with criteria used in morphological classification. Therefore, the PCR-ITS-RFLP method provides a simple and rapid procedure for the differentiation of Fusarium strains at species level. This is the first report on identification and pathogenicity of major plant pathogenic Fusarium spp. causing root and stem rot on cucurbits in Iran.
doi:10.1016/j.sjbs.2011.01.007
PMCID: PMC3730871  PMID: 23961146
Fusarium; Pathogenicity; PCR; ITS-RFLP; Cucurbits; Iran
23.  A GAMYB homologue CsGAMYB1 regulates sex expression of cucumber via an ethylene-independent pathway 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(12):3201-3213.
Summary
We find that CsGAMYB1, a positive regulator of GA signalling, can regulate sex expression of cucumber. This provides a new insight into the mechanism of GA in sex determination.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is a typical monoecious vegetable with individual male and female flowers, and has been used as a model plant for sex determination. It is well known that sex differentiation of cucumber can be regulated by phytohormones, such as gibberellic acid (GA) and ethylene. The molecular mechanism of female sex expression modulated by ethylene has been widely understood, but how GA controls male sex expression remains elusive. In hermaphroditic Arabidopsis and rice, GA can regulate stamen and anther development via the transcriptional regulation of GAMYB. Here we characterized a GAMYB homologue CsGAMYB1 in cucumber. We found that CsGAMYB1 is predominantly expressed in male flower buds, where its expression is upregulated by GA3 treatment. CsGAMYB1 protein is localized in the nucleus. CsGAMYB1 can partially rescue stamen development and fertility phenotypes of an Arabidopsis myb33 myb65 double mutant. However, constitutive overexpression of CsGAMYB1 in wild-type Arabidopsis resulted in male sterility, which mimics the effect of GA overdose in flower development. Knockdown of CsGAMYB1 in cucumber decreases the ratio of nodes with male and female flowers, and ethylene is not involved in this process. Our data suggest that CsGAMYB1 regulates sex expression of cucumber via an ethylene-independent pathway.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru176
PMCID: PMC4071842  PMID: 24790111
CsGAMYB1; cucumber; ethylene; GAMYB; gibberellin; sex expression.
24.  High-Throughput Sequencing, Characterization and Detection of New and Conserved Cucumber miRNAs 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19523.
Micro RNAS (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous small non coding RNAs involved in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. In plants, a great number of conserved and specific miRNAs, mainly arising from model species, have been identified to date. However less is known about the diversity of these regulatory RNAs in vegetal species with agricultural and/or horticultural importance.
Here we report a combined approach of bioinformatics prediction, high-throughput sequencing data and molecular methods to analyze miRNAs populations in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) plants. A set of 19 conserved and 6 known but non-conserved miRNA families were found in our cucumber small RNA dataset. We also identified 7 (3 with their miRNA* strand) not previously described miRNAs, candidates to be cucumber-specific. To validate their description these new C. sativus miRNAs were detected by northern blot hybridization. Additionally, potential targets for most conserved and new miRNAs were identified in cucumber genome.
In summary, in this study we have identified, by first time, conserved, known non-conserved and new miRNAs arising from an agronomically important species such as C. sativus. The detection of this complex population of regulatory small RNAs suggests that similarly to that observe in other plant species, cucumber miRNAs may possibly play an important role in diverse biological and metabolic processes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019523
PMCID: PMC3095615  PMID: 21603611
25.  Diversification and genetic differentiation of cultivated melon inferred from sequence polymorphism in the chloroplast genome 
Breeding Science  2013;63(2):183-196.
Molecular analysis encouraged discovery of genetic diversity and relationships of cultivated melon (Cucumis melo L.). We sequenced nine inter- and intra-genic regions of the chloroplast genome, about 5500 bp, using 60 melon accessions and six reference accessions of wild species of Cucumis to show intra-specific variation of the chloroplast genome. Sequence polymorphisms were detected among melon accessions and other Cucumis species, indicating intra-specific diversification of the chloroplast genome. Melon accessions were classified into three subclusters by cytoplasm type and then into 12 subgroups. Geographical origin and seed size also differed between the three subclusters. Subcluster Ia contained small-seed melon from Southern Africa and South and East Asia and subcluster Ib mainly consisted of large-seed melon from northern Africa, Europe and USA. Melon accessions of subcluster Ic were only found in West, Central and Southern Africa. Our results indicated that European melon groups and Asian melon groups diversified independently and shared the same maternal lineage with northern African large-seed melon and Southern African small-seed melon, respectively. Cultivated melon of subcluster Ic may have been domesticated independently in Africa. The presence of 11 cytoplasm types in Africa strongly supported African origin of cultivated melon and indicated the importance of germplasm from Africa.
doi:10.1270/jsbbs.63.183
PMCID: PMC3688380  PMID: 23853513
chloroplast genome; Cucumis; genetic differentiation; genetic diversity; maternal line; melon; polyphyletic origin

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