Identification of Tunisian melon landraces resistant to biotic stress for breeding programs


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Melon crops in the Mediterranean basin are affected by several pathogens and pests that reduce yield considerably. The soil borne fungal disease Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. melonis), the airborne fungal disease Powdery mildew (Podosphaera xanthii) and the aphid Aphis gossypii, vector of important viruses stand out among them. The use of resistant cultivars is currently the most efficient control approach. However, the existing resistance level introduced in melon cultivars is still insufficient. It is thus crucial to identify and exploit new germplasm that could lead to the finding of new genes that could reinforce the existing resistance. Identification of molecular markers tightly linked to resistance is also necessary to facilitate and fasten breeding. Therefore, a core collection of melon landraces has been selected and phenotyped for its response to Fusarium wilt, Powdery mildew and Aphid. The local landraces are a valuable genetic reservoir that could be useful as sources of resistance in melon breeding programs.

Speaker Information

Short Bio:

Dr. Chikh-Rouhou is a Researcher at the Regional Research Centre on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture (CRRHAB) since July 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in Genetics and Plant Breeding from the University of Zaragoza, Spain, and an Agricultural Engineer Diploma in Biotechnology and Seed Production from the National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia (INAT).

 She is working on the valorization and preservation of Cucurbits local genetic resources (melon, watermelon, pumpkins and bottle gourde) and their exploitation for sustainable agriculture. She is currently responsible of a melon breeding program (Cucumis melo L.) for the improvement of resistance to biotic stress specially aphid and fungus diseases (Fusarium wilt and Powdery mildew) using conventional methods and molecular markers assisted selection. Besides, the development of multi-resistant local melon hybrids, economically efficient and sustainable both in quality and yield, she is also collaborating in an onion breeding program to improve yield and storability.

Dr. Chikh-Rouhou is involved in several national and international projects dealing with the exploration of genetic diversity in vegetable species using phenotypic and molecular marker approaches. She has contributed to several relevant scientific publications and supervised several students for their master's degrees. She was also involved in teaching courses in plant breeding and field experimental design, during 4 years, at High Agronomic Institute of Chott-Mariem, Tunisia.


Most relevant Publications:

Chikh-Rouhou H, Gómez-Guillamón ML, González V, Sta-Baba R, Garcés-Claver A. (2021) Cucumis melo L. in Tunisia: Unexploited sources of resistance to Fusarium wilt. Horticulturae (Submitted)

Chikh-Rouhou H, Mezghani N, Mnasri S, Mezghani N, Garcés-Claver A. (2021) Assessing the genetic diversity and population structure of a Tunisian melon (Cucumis melo L.) collection using phenotypic traits and SSR molecular markers. Agronomy11 (6): 1121; DOI:10.3390/agronomy11061121

Chikh-Rouhou H, Tlili I, Ilahy R, R’him T,Sta-Baba R. (2020) Fruit quality assessment and characterization of melon genotypes. International Journal of Vegetable Science 27(1): 3-19; DOI:10.1080/19315260.2019.1692268

Chikh-Rouhou H, Ben Belgacem AM, Sta-Baba R, Tarchoun N, Gómez-GuillamónML. (2019) New source of resistance to Aphis gossypii in Tunisian melon genotypes using phenotypic and molecular marker approaches. Phytoparasitica 47(3):405-413; DOI: 10.1007/s12600-019-00730-5

Oumouloud A, El-Otmani M, Chikh-Rouhou H, Garcés-Claver A, González-Torres R, Perl-Treves R, Álvarez JM. (2013) Breeding melon for resistance to Fusarium wilt: recent developments. Euphytica 192 (2): 155-169                            DOI: 10.1007/s10681-013-0904-4

Oumouloud A, Mokhtari M, Chikh-Rouhou H, Arnedo-Andres MS, González-Torres R, Álvarez JM. (2012) Characterization of the Fusarium wilt resistance Fom-2 gene in melon. Molecular Breeding 30 (1): 325-334                              DOI: 10.1007/S11032-011-9622-6