Scientists have identified the possible origins of Citrinus lanatus vulgaris, commonly known as melon. New research work identifies peanut melon as the ancestor of the distinctive green striped fruit, typical of the summer season. Watermelon, as far as is known, is native to Africa but fruit mutations over time are unknown.
Research team published in the National Academy of Sciences (You can read the article at this link Link), After years of working on the biogeography of the watermelon genus, Citrilus. As lead author Susan Renner, a botanist at the University of Munich said, “Everyone thought that there were only four wild species and that the sweet melon that we eat today came from South Africa.”. In 2015, Guillaume Chumiki, a graduate student, discovered through DNA sequencing of several samples found across Africa that the suspected watermelon ancestor in the south was only close.
“From there one thing led to another.” Renner said, and researchers have just identified kordofan melon as a possible genetic origin for modern melons.
Chumiki, a botanist now at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, said that tracking the lineage of melons in South Africa was the result of a number of errors. About one hundred and fifty years after a student of taxonomist Carl Linnaeus selected and named a new variety of watermelons near Cape Town, named Citrullus lanatus, an American botanist was able to understand the association with watermelons, who share the same name. “From now on, the general idea was that the watermelon came from South Africa,” Chumiki said.
Melons and their ancient ancestors do not tend to fossilize, so they leave no trace, obscuring the true origins of the fruit. Then the researchers genetically sequenced watermelon samples taken from a herbarium and compared them with DNA extracted from a wild fruit in Sudan, melon Kordofan. They found about 16,000 structural genetic variants between the two plants and mapped these differences for specific traits of each fruit.
“We know that a large and long watermelon was eaten raw 4360 years ago and was present in Egypt thanks to ancient icons.”Chumiki said, “But the graphics are full fruit, so we can’t tell if they are really red.”
Without physical evidence, researchers relied on a combination of genetic research and historical context. The melon samples the team used came from Darfur, which was once Nuba. Renner said it is possible that the fruit was grown in Nubia and then moved across the Nile through trade. It is possible that watermelons changed independently of human agriculture, Rayner said, based on numerous changes at the genetic level between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. “In the year 1800, it was common to find white watermelon in the United States.”Renner said, “But due to the development of agrarian agriculture and public demand, it has been virtually eliminated. ” Some of those melons are still there, although these can be difficult to find at a grocery store.