Cucurbit Molecular Breeding: Traits, Markers, and GenesSubmit Manuscript on this topic
Cucurbit is a general term for crop plants in the Cucurbitaceae family, which is among the most economically important crops worldwide. Major cucurbits include cucumber, melon, watermelon, and squash/pumpkin. In many regions of the world, some other cucurbits such as the bitter melon, bottle gourd, winter melon, and luffa are also very popular and play critical roles in rural economy. In addition, cucurbits are preferred models for understanding some important biological processes in plants, such as sex expression, phloem physiology, fruit development and organellar genetics. Cucurbits are morphologically very diverse, but their genomes are highly conserved both in functional and structural aspects.
In the last decade, due to the advance of sequencing technologies, the draft genome assemblies of several cucurbit crops are now available including cucumber, melon, watermelon, pumpkin/squash, zucchini, bottle gourd, and bitter gourd. Many accessions in major cucurbit crops have been re-sequenced. Molecular markers and high-density genetic maps in each cucurbit crop could be routinely developed with the help of next-generation sequencing technologies. These applied genomic resources make it possible to accelerate translational research for cucurbit breeding. Indeed, in recent years, there has been significant progress among major cucurbits in molecular characterization of cucurbit germplasm collection, molecular mapping, cloning and functional characterization of genes/QTL for horticulturally important traits, and genome-wide association analysis in natural populations to establish marker-trait associations. Such work has provided tremendous opportunities and flexibility to cucurbit breeders to adopt and integrate genomics-assisted breeding strategies in cucurbit improvement.
This Research Topic aims to cover different aspects of translational studies in cucurbit crops. Although all article types are welcome, research manuscripts should demonstrate the translational nature of the studies. Preferred topics may include characterization of the cucurbit genomes, identification, molecular mapping/cloning of horticulturally important genes or QTL, functional characterization of candidate genes or QTL in relation to horticultural traits, genetic transformation or transgenic research, and marker-assisted selection or genome selection for cucurbit improvement. Manuscripts with focus only on phenotypic analysis of target traits, describing simple bioinformatic, genome-wide characterization of members of gene families or new genome sequences, or identifying DNA polymorphisms in a target genome without association with any particular traits are not considered for review. When possible, authors are encouraged to conduct comparative analysis of the structural and function of genes/QTL of target traits across cucurbit crops.