Genetic diversity and interrelationship among Indian and exotic melons based on fruit morphology, quality components and microsatellite markers.
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Seventy melon (Cucumis melo L.) accessions comprising of landraces, inbred lines, cultivars, wild relatives and exotic populations were characterized using fifteen fruit traits and 30 SSR markers. Overall, aim of this study was to investigate the genetic relatedness across origins, horticultural groups and accession categories. Significant differences were observed for days to first fruit maturity, fruit weight, fruits per vine, yield per plant, flesh thickness, fruit shape index, total soluble solids, -carotene, ascorbic acid and titrable acidity. Twenty-four polymorphic SSRs detected 67 distinct alleles with moderate polymorphic information content (0.43) and genetic diversity (0.44). Observed heterozygosity (0.53) was higher than expected heterozygosity (0.48) which can be attributed to out-cross nature of melons. Neighbor joining tree based on SSRs diverged 70 accessions into six clusters independent of geographic sites of collections. Momordica and inodorus accessions formed distinct clusters, with some exceptions. Intermixing of landraces, modern cultivars and exotic accessions belonging to different taxa and geographic regions indicated genetic resemblance with each other. Hybridization among exotic and indigenous genetic resources can be utilized for genetic enhancement and introgression of new traits in modern melon cultivars.