A West Virginia State University (WVSU) led research project has received a Vegetable Publication Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), in recognition of the most outstanding paper on vegetable crops published in 2017.

The paper, entitled “Genetic Diversity in the Desert Watermelon Citrullus colocynthisand its Relationship with Citrullus Species as Determined by High-frequency Oligonucleotides-targeting Active Gene Markers,” was published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

“This research identified an ancestral species from which cultivated watermelon domesticated and will lead to the development of insect- and disease-resistant watermelons,” said WVSU Research Scientist Dr. Umesh K. Reddy. “Currently, watermelon crops are dying because there is no diversity among watermelon varieties. Our research revealed the possibility of transferring resistant genes from the wild plant to the cultivated watermelon without affecting fruit quality and nutraceutical genes.”

Collaborators on the project include the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., and Newe Yaar Research Center in Ramat Yishai, Israel.

Originally from West Virginia State University Communications.