Author(s): Natalie L Hubbard, D Mason Pharr
Muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) fruit lack a stored starch reserve and therefore depend on translocated photoassimilate from the leaf canopy for sugar accumulation during ripening. The influence of canopy photosynthesis on sucrose' accumulation within muskmelon fruit mesocarp was examined. Canopy photosynthetic activities were estimated in a sweet and a nonsweet genotype. Photosynthetic rate of the nonsweet genotype, on a per-plant basis, was only 56% of that of the sweet genotype. The effect of limiting leaf area of the sweet genotype on carbohydrate concentrations and sucrose metabolizing enzymes within the fruit was evaluated. A 50% reduction of leaf area 8 days before initiation of fruit sucrose accumulation resulted in canopy photosynthesis similar to that of the nonsweet genotype. Reduced photosynthetic activity resulted in slightly lower soluble-carbohydrate concentration in the fruit; however, fruit sucrose concentration was three times higher than that reported previously for the nonsweet genotype. The extent to which `fruit sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS) activity increased during maturation was diminished by leaf removal. Acid invertase activity declined in all fruit in a similar manner irrespective of defoliation. A reduction of leaf area of a sweet genotype reduced sucrose accumulation within the fruit. Lower fruit sucrose concentration was associated with lower concentration of raffinose saccharides and lower SPS activity within the fruit. Additionally, insufficient assimilate supply was judged not to be the factor responsible for low sucrose accumulation in a nonsweet genotype.