Crops from Cucurbitaceae in collection of the Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute, Plovdiv – local cultivars and their application in breeding programme

N. Velkov*, V. Petkova

Abstract. Cucumber, watermelon, melon and squashes are species belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. The breeding of these crops has long tradition in Bulgaria. The created old varieties of cucumbers, watermelons, melons and squashes are subject to variety maintenance in the collections of Maritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute and have significant participation in the new breeding programs. In this paper the results from study regarding the assessment of genetic resources in Cucurbitaceae family (old local cultivars and wild species) are presented. Gene pool in cucumbers comprises twelve old varieties, including: long parthenocarpic type – three, salad – four, and small fruited type – five. Some of these varieties are involved in promising hybrid combinations. The melons were represented by three old local cultivars which are also included in the breeding scheme. In the collection of watermelons we maintain three old local cultivars and with squashes – two. The Lagenaria, Luffa and a number of wild species are of small importance for the agriculture but they are valuable sources of genetic plasma. The most typical peculiarity of all species from this family is the great polymorphism in respect to the flowering type, plant habit and fruit features. As a result of the performed study morphological, phenological and phytopathological evaluation of the available gene pool of Cucurbitaceae family was made using traditional and modern breeding methods with an emphasis on new breeding approaches.