Where Your Watermelon Came From

“We are really confident in saying this is the closest relative,” Dr. Chomicki mentioned.

The Kordofan melon and the fashionable watermelon almost certainly arose from a long-ago wild melon, the outcomes recommend. Farmers would have realized this melon was sweeter than others and bred it into new, tasty varieties.

Researchers nonetheless don’t know, nonetheless, who took this wild melon ancestor and turned it into what’s on the tomb wall in Saqqara, or set it on the trail to what we eat as we speak. Dr. Chomicki and his colleagues are planning to sequence the genomes of melon seeds present in African archaeological websites to attempt to decide the place and when people coaxed early watermelons right into a extra edible kind.

The wild family of domesticated crops will be sources of contemporary, fascinating genes for breeders. A brand new shade, a hardy resistance to drought or a brand new option to struggle off blight are the sorts of treasures wild vegetation can deliver to the gene pool of domesticated varieties.

Even varieties which can be nearer to the supply, because the Kordofan melon could also be, might help. The new examine discovered that it has completely different types of genes associated to illness resistance than the usual watermelon.

It’s not clear if there are nonetheless any wild variations of the Kordofan melon or its family rising in Sudan, Dr. Chomicki mentioned. In the 1800s, the German botanist wrote, there have been patches of the melons rising wild. But this area, which is close to Darfur, is now troublesome for researchers to achieve entry to due to violence.

Many wild family of crop vegetation are going through extinction all over the world, a results of human disturbance and local weather change. When they go, they take alternatives to enhance home varieties with them.

Dr. Chomicki has by no means tasted the Kordofan melon — for his or her evaluation, the workforce members needed to depend on samples collected by others. The tales of its candy taste, the telltale signal that it could have had a narrative to inform about fashionable watermelon, are nonetheless secondhand.

“But I still have some seeds,” he mentioned, “so I will plant them and see.”

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