The 5th edition of Bitter Gourd Open Field Days showcased elite breeding lines of a popular Asian cucurbit.
With 11 acres of field trials, the 5th Annual Bitter Gourd Open Field Days, held on 25-26 July 2019 at the WorldVeg East and Southeast Asia Research and Training Station, Kamphaeng Saen campus, Kasetsart University, Thailand, attracted 46 participants (cucurbit breeders, product development managers, marketing and sales managers, R & D heads and managing directors), two staff from the Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute, Vietnam and one staff from Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute) to view the unique diversity of Momordica charantia, a cucurbit that continues to grow in popularity across Asia.
Participants from FAVRI, Vietnam evaluating bitter gourd lines in the trial fields.
The WorldVeg cucurbit team proudly showcased 700 elite bitter gourd breeding lines (S4-S7 generation), a large set of bitter gourd F1 hybrids in preliminary yield trials, and observational trials with early stage bitter gourd products of recurrent selection.
Cucurbit breeder Narinder Dhillon illustrated the distinctive traits of WorldVeg elite bitter gourd breeding lines and F1 hybrids, such as fruit quality (color, shape, skin pattern, shelf life) early and total yield potential, market segments, vine vigor, transport rigor, and resistance to fungal pathogens and begomoviruses. He revealed his approach to address the narrow genetic base of current commercial F1 hybrids: first, classify the WorldVeg bitter gourd breeding lines on the basis of market segments, color, shape and skin pattern, geographic origin and molecular diversity pattern and fungal/virus resistance; next, with the help of seed company breeders, attempt crosses with the best combiners available from individual seed companies; and finally, hold multilocation trials of the crosses for evaluation in target regions.
WorldVeg has developed a single source of begomovirus resistance which can be used in hybridization with elite best combiners of seed companies for immediate product development and long term line development programs. This strategy is likely to lead to the development of better bitter gourd products meeting the demands of the entire value chain: farmers, distributors, retailers and consumers in Asian countries where nutritious bitter gourd is a commercially important crop.
Seed company breeders shared information on their elite bitter gourd F1 hybrids developed using WorldVeg bitter gourd breeding lines. “WorldVeg’s global bitter gourd breeding program is the single source for obtaining genetically diversified and market- and trait-specific breeding lines, which are the result of nine years’ meticulous breeding work by my team led by Suwannee Laenoi and Supornpun Srimat (Assistant Specialists, Plant Breeding),” said Narinder. Former WorldVeg breeding specialists Supannika Sanguansil (now with Chia Tai Group) and Supunsa Phethin (with Monsanto) also contributed immensely during the formative years of the program.
Narinder and his team have built a strong support group among seed company breeders, who benefit from the Center’s current cucurbit breeding research. The seed company representatives were informed about other significant WorldVeg cucurbit breeding projects in the pipeline, including begomovirus resistance breeding programs in tropical pumpkin and Luffa.
Seed company breeders evaluating WorldVeg bitter gourd F1 hybrids
World Vegetable Center
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