Worldwide, cucumbers are steadfast among the top five vegetable crops. They are most commonly eaten fresh or preserved, as pickles. An important attribute of the cucumber is fruit length. Cucumbers range in size from 5 to 60 cm, depending on the cultivar.
In an effort to identify the genetic basis of fruit length variation in cucumber, a team of researchers led by Xiaolan Zhang at China Agricultural University analysed 150 cucumber lines with different fruit lengths. They identified two variants of a gene named CsFUL1 that differed by a single base pair in the DNA code. The CsFUL1A variant appeared in long-fruited East Asian cucumbers, whereas the CsFUL1C variant was randomly distributed in wild and semi-wild cucumber populations.
Decreased expression of CsFUL1A was responsible for longer fruit, whereas shorter fruit was caused by increased expression of the A variant, or by the C variant. Therefore, the authors concluded that CsFUL1A functions as a repressor of fruit length that emerged during selection of Asian long cucumber.
According to phys.org this research has singled out a key modulator of fruit length and sets the stage for developing strategies to manipulate fruit length in cucumber breeding.