REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202101.0213.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Anatomy And Physiology Keywords: crop diversification; C3 xerophtyes; food security; underutilized crops; drought adaptation strategies
Online: 12 January 2021 (10:19:08 CET)
Citron watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides) is an underexploited and under-researched crop species with potential to contribute to crop diversification in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. The species is commonly cultivated in the drier parts of Southern Africa, mainly by smallholder farmers who maintain a wide range of landraces. Understanding the molecular and morpho-physiological basis for drought adaptation of Citron watermelon in these dry environments can aid in screening local germplasm, identification of suitable traits for crop improvement and improving food system resilience among smallholder farmers by adding to crop diversification. This paper reviews literature on drought adaptation of C. lanatus spp. (C3 xerophytes), using the systematic review approach. The review discusses; (i) the potential role of citron watermelon in adding to crop diversification, (ii) alternative food uses and potential by-products that can be processed from citron watermelon and (iii) the role of Sub-Saharan farmers as key actors in conserving citron watermelon germplasm and biodiversity. Finally, the review provides a summary of significant findings and identifies critical knowledge gaps for further research.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0116.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Agricultural Science And Agronomy Keywords: Biomass partitioning; Digital root phenotyping; Image analysis; Rhizotron; Root architecture; Root phenes; RootSnap
Online: 5 August 2022 (04:23:44 CEST)
Citron watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides) is an extremely drought-tolerant cucurbit crop widely grown in sub-Saharan Africa in arid and semi-arid environments characterized by drought. The species is a C3 xerophyte used for multiple purposes, including intercropping with maize and has a deep taproot system. The deep taproot system plays a key role in the species’ adaptation to dry conditions. Understanding root system development of this crop could be useful in identifying traits for breeding water-use efficient and drought-tolerant varieties. This study compared root system architecture of citron watermelon accessions under water-stress conditions. Nine selected and drought-tolerant citron watermelon accessions were grown under non-stress (NS) and water stress (WS) conditions using the root rhizotron procedure in a glasshouse. The following root system architecture (RSA) traits were measured, namely: root system width (RSW), root system depth (RSD), convex hull area (CHA), total root length (TRL), root branch count (RBC), total root volume (TRV), leaf area (LA), leaf number (LN), first seminal root length (FSRL), seminal root angle (SRA), root dry mass (RDM), shoot dry mass (SDM), root–shoot mass ratio (RSM), root mass ratio (RMR), shoot mass ratio (SMR) and root tissue density (RTD). The data collected on RSA traits were subjected to the analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation and principal component analyses. ANOVA revealed a significant (p < 0.05) accession × water stress interaction effect for studied RSA traits. Under WS, RDM exhibited significant and positive correlations with RSM (r = 0.65), RMR (r = 0.66), RSD (r = 0.66), TRL (r = 0.60), RBC (r = 0.72), FSRL (r = 0.73) and LN (r = 0.70). Principal component analysis revealed high loading scores for the following RSA traits: RSW (0.89), RSD (0.97), TRL (0.99), TRV (0.90), TRL (0.99), RMR (0.96) and RDM (0.76). In conclusion, the study has shown that the identified RSA traits could be useful in crop improvement programmes for citron watermelon genotypes with enhanced drought adaptation for improved yield performance under drought-prone environments.