Broadening the genetic base of cucumbers

An American cucumber breeder, Jack Staub, is collaborating with Chinese scientists to bring fresh DNA into the modern cucumber. The hope is that this will give new cucumber varieties the genetic breadth to withstand droughts and diseases. The story started 12 years ago, when Staub crossed domestic cucumbers with a newly-discovered wild Chinese variety. It wasn’t easy to get the results of the cross to grow, but now the hybrids are being evaluated to see what they might contribute to domestic cucumbers. The next step, says Staub, is to cross the cucumber with wild melons, which are closely related and which might also be able to donate valuable traits to the crop.

The story is just one of several about vegetable breeding in the latest USDA magazine.

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