Crossbreeding Rootstocks Improve Nitrogen Efficiency of Grafted Watermelon by Inducing Leaf Physiological and Root Morphological Responses

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Horticulturae, vol.8, no.10, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/horticulturae8100879
  • Journal Name: Horticulturae
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: backcrossing, Citrullus lanatus L, N efficiency, root morphology, vegetable grafting, NITRATE REDUCTASE, GROWTH, YIELD, FRUIT, MELON, L.
  • Kayseri University Affiliated: No


© 2022 by the author.This is the first hydroponic study that evaluated the role of the heterotic plant characters of crossbreeding progenies and accessions which were used as rootstock for watermelon (scion) to improve the nitrogen (N) efficiency of this crop by grafting. The target of the research was to evaluate if grafting could enhance the nitrogen efficiency of watermelon through examining the responses of heterotic plant characters of crossbreeding rootstocks in the shoot development at the agronomical stage, root developments at the morphological stage, and leaf growth at various physiological stages. A hydroponic experiment was conducted by using an aerated deep-water culture (DWC) system in a well-equipped growth chamber of Erciyes University’s Plant Physiology Laboratory located at Kayseri, Türkiye. A watermelon cultivar Crimson Tide (CT) was grafted onto watermelon cultivars of Calhoun Gray (CG), Charleston Gray (Cha. G), and accessions of PI 296341 and PI 271769, the crossbreed progenies of Calhoun Gray × PI 296341, Calhoun Gray × PI 271769, and Charleston Gray × PI 296341. Plants were grown in 8 L plastic containers filled continuously with aired stock nutrient solution under two nitrogen (N) doses (low dose N: 0.3 mM unit N, and high dose N: 3.0 mM unit N) in a completely randomized block design (RBD) which was replicated three times, for six weeks. The grafted plants usually showed a higher crop growth performance than the self-grafted control plants, illustrating that nitrogen efficiency was significantly enhanced with respect to rootstocks of crossbreed progenies under a low N dose and high N dose. The N efficiency of grafted watermelon (CT) was improved by the high manifestation of heterosis in some root morphological characters (vigor root development and active root mechanism) of some of the crossbreeding rootstocks (Calhoun Gray × PI 271769) particularly in low-N conditions. Additionally, some of the crossbreeding rootstocks (Charleston Gray × PI 296341) exhibited high heterosis, which led to improving the N efficiency of grafted watermelon (CT) by inducing leaf physiological responses under high N supply. This clearly indicated that heterosis plays a crucial role in exploiting the genetic diversity in the N efficiency of watermelon. Therefore, these heterotic plant traits may be vital for the selection and breeding of nitrogen-efficient rootstocks for both small-scale and large-scale commercial farming in the nearby future.