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Article|09 May 2023|OPEN
Identification of candidate genes that regulate the trade-off between seedling cold tolerance and fruit quality in melon (Cucumis melo L.)
Lili Li1 ,† , Qiong Li1 ,† , Bin Chen1 ,† , Jiyu Wang1 , Fei Ding1 , Panqiao Wang1 , Xiuyue Zhang1 , Juan Hou1 , Renren Luo1 , Xiang Li1 , Jingwen Zheng1 , Sen Yang1 , Luming Yang1 , Lei Zhu1 , Shouru Sun1 , Changsheng Ma1 , Qin Li2 , Ying Li1 , and Jianbin Hu,1 ,
1College of Horticulture, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450002, China
2The Seed Management Station of Zhengzhou City, Zhengzhou 450001, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,
Lili Li,Qiong Li and Bin Chen contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad093 (2023)
Views: 125

Received: 15 Aug 2022
Accepted: 01 May 2023
Published online: 09 May 2023


Trade-offs between survival and growth are widely observed in plants. Melon is an annual, trailing herb that produces economically valuable fruits that are traditionally cultivated in early spring in China. Melon seedlings are sensitive to low temperatures, and thus usually suffer from cold stress during the early growth period. However, little is known about the mechanism behind the trade-offs between seedling cold tolerance and fruit quality in melon. In this study, a total of 31 primary metabolites were detected from the mature fruits of eight melon lines that differ with respect to seedling cold tolerance; these included 12 amino acids, 10 organic acids, and 9 soluble sugars. Our results showed that concentrations of most of the primary metabolites in the cold-resistant melons were generally lower than in the cold-sensitive melons; the greatest difference in metabolite levels was observed between the cold-resistant line H581 and the moderately cold-resistant line HH09. The metabolite and transcriptome data for these two lines were then subjected to weighted correlation network analysis, resulting in the identification of five key candidate genes underlying the balancing between seedling cold tolerance and fruit quality. Among these genes, CmEAF7 might play multiple roles in regulating chloroplast development, photosynthesis, and the ABA pathway. Furthermore, multi-method functional analysis showed that CmEAF7 can certainly improve both seedling cold tolerance and fruit quality in melon. Our study identified an agriculturally important gene, CmEAF7, and provides a new insight into breeding methods to develop melon cultivars with seedling cold tolerance and high fruit quality.