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Pepino (Solanum muricatum Aiton): Breeding in Israel for better taste and aroma

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New pepino (Solanum muricatum Aiton) cultivars with improved flavor were bred in Israel in recent years. Various parental lines with attractive fruit appearance and promising horticultural traits, but not necessarily with very high soluble solid concentration (SSC) levels or with good flavor, were used for crosses. Selection was performed in the segregating populations in search of new genotypes with good horticultural attributes combined with improved flavor. Individual clones with improved flavor were selected among the progeny populations, indicating that flavor is mediated through specific gene combinations.‘Pepo’, the first locally bred cultivar, has been grown in modest quantities during the last seven years, mainly for the local market and occasionally for export to Europe. The crop is grown in greenhouses from September through July, yielding up to five tons of fruits per 1000 m2. ‘Pepo’ has been well received both locally and abroad. The fruit has a pleasant mild flavor, and due to its low calorie content was approved as suitable for diabetic people. It can be used as a dessert as well as in green and fruit salads. Pickled green immature ‘Pepo’ fruits are very flavorful. Additional new locally-bred cultivars with improved sweetness or with a special unique aroma are now being introduced.Irrigation with saline water (3.5 dS/m) was able to enhance the SSC and flavor of pepino but could not amend occasional unpleasant off-flavors.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; 2: Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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