Microbial Differences in Watermelons with Various Fruit Shapes

Jenn Hoskins
17th May, 2024

Microbial Differences in Watermelons with Various Fruit Shapes

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study from Guangxi University analyzed the microbial communities in the roots and stems of oval (OW) and circular watermelons (CW)
  • While the diversity of microbial communities was similar, the specific compositions differed between OW and CW
  • Unique bacterial and fungal genera were identified in the rhizospheres and stems of OW and CW, suggesting different microbial recruitment based on fruit shape
Watermelon, a widely cultivated fruit, has variations in shape that have long intrigued scientists and breeders. The recent study conducted by Guangxi University[1] aims to elucidate the biological mechanisms behind the formation of different watermelon fruit shapes by analyzing the rhizospheric (root-associated) and endophytic (internal) microbial communities of oval (OW) and circular watermelons (CW). The study found that while the diversity of bacterial and fungal communities in the rhizosphere and endosphere didn't significantly differ between OW and CW, the specific compositions of these microbial communities did vary. In the rhizospheres of CW, unique bacterial genera such as Bacillus, Rhodanobacter, and Cupriavidus were identified, whereas OW had distinct bacterial genera including Nocardioides and Ensifer. Similarly, unique fungal genera were found in the rhizospheres of CW and OW, such as Cephalotrichum in CW and Acremonium in OW. Endophytic microorganisms also showed significant differences. The stems of CW harbored unique bacterial genera like Pseudomonas and Flavobacterium, while OW contained distinct genera such as Falsirhodobacter and Kocuria. For fungi, CW had unique genera like Lectera and Fusarium, whereas OW had Cercospora. These findings suggest that watermelon plants with different fruit shapes recruit different microbial communities in their rhizospheres and stems. This recruitment could be related to the formation of watermelon fruit shapes, although the exact mechanisms remain to be fully understood. The study builds on previous research that has identified genetic factors influencing fruit shape. For instance, a 159 bp deletion in the ClFS1 gene encoding an IQD protein is responsible for elongated fruit shape in watermelon[2]. This gene was mapped to a region on chromosome 3, and its deletion results in the omission of 53 amino acids, leading to the elongate fruit shape. The current study adds a new dimension to this understanding by exploring how microbial communities might interact with these genetic factors to influence fruit shape. Additionally, the study's findings align with previous research on the genetic improvement of watermelon. The assembly of a gap-free genome of the elite watermelon inbred line G42 has provided invaluable resources for functional genomics and genetic improvement[3]. This high-quality genome assembly has enabled the identification of mutations responsible for traits like fruit shape and male sterility. The current study's focus on microbial communities complements this genetic research by suggesting that both genetic and microbial factors could be targeted for watermelon breeding. The implications of these findings are significant for both agriculture and conservation. Understanding the eco-evolutionary dynamics between plants and their associated microbes can inform strategies for crop improvement and resilience against environmental changes[4]. By considering both genetic and microbial factors, breeders can develop watermelon cultivars with desired fruit shapes and potentially improved resistance to diseases and environmental stresses. In conclusion, the study from Guangxi University provides a comprehensive analysis of the microbial communities associated with different watermelon fruit shapes. By integrating these findings with previous genetic research, it opens new avenues for understanding the complex interactions between plants and their microbiomes and their impact on important agricultural traits.

FruitsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) How different of the rhizospheric and endophytic microbial compositions in watermelons with different fruit shapes.

Published 16th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Genetic mapping reveals a candidate gene (ClFS1) for fruit shape in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.).


3) A telomere-to-telomere gap-free reference genome of watermelon and its mutation library provide important resources for gene discovery and breeding.


4) Plant-microbe eco-evolutionary dynamics in a changing world.


Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙