People smell them, thump them and eyeball their shape. But ultimately, it is sweetness and a sense of healthy eating which prompt one to buy a melon.
And, now plant breeders now have a better chance to pinpoint such traits for new varieties -- thanks to scientists who have mapped the melon genome with hundreds of DNA markers, the 'Journal of American Society of Horticultural Sciences' reported in its latest edition.
Lead scientist Dr Kevin Crosby of Texas AgriLife Research said: "This will help us anchor down some of the desirable genes to develop better melon varieties. We can identify specific genes for higher sugar content, disease resistance and even drought tolerance."
For the study, the Deltex ananas melon was crossed with a wild melon called TGR 1551. More than 100 of the offspring from that cross were grown in the AgriLife Research greenhouses at Weslaco, Crosby noted.
DNA was extracted from leaf tissue collected 21 days after planting. Results from these tests were integrated into partial maps created by other researchers.