Exploring drought tolerance in melon germplasm through physiochemical and photosynthetic traits

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Drought stress is a global concern that has a negative impact on the growth and production of melon (Cucumis melo L.). In this study, 58 melon accessions were subjected to drought stress induced by polyethylene glycol (PEG-6000). Comprehensive evaluations were performed to identify various morphological, biochemical, and physiological attributes of melon. Drought stress significantly reduced shoot length (SL), stem diameter (SD), leaf width (LW), and leaf length (LL) in the melon seedlings. Similarly, drought stress resulted in a significant reduction in photosynthetic pigments (Chl, Car), relative water content (RWC), chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm), transpiration rate (Tr), stomatal conductance (Gs), net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci). On the other hand, biochemical indicators such as malondialdehyde content (MDA), soluble protein content (SP) and soluble sugar content (SS) were observed to be enhanced upon exposure to drought stress. Most indicators showed strong positive correlations based on Pearson correlation analysis. Furthermore, the modified membership function and D values for the drought tolerance indices were calculated to evaluate the drought tolerance level of melon accessions. In addition, melon accessions were classified into drought-resistant and drought-sensitive groups based on cluster analysis. As a result, mel-46, mel-58 and mel-15 were identified as drought-resistant genotypes among the assessed melon accessions. Taken together, these accessions provide potential genetic resources for further improvement and breeding of melon genotypes. Furthermore, the indicators responsible for the assessment of drought tolerance can provide a baseline for future studies.

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Plant Growth Regulation



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