GESUNDE PFLANZEN, vol.73, no.3, pp.345-357, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
The goal of the present study was to determine whether grafting of watermelon on gourd rootstocks could improve alkalinity tolerance and to investigate the physiological and morphological response mechanisms of the grafted plants under different pH levels. The experiment was carried out in a climate chamber to investigate growth, leaf chlorophyll content (SPAD), leaf area, stem length, shoot and root dry weight, root length, electrolyte leakage, leaf mineral composition, total chlorophyll and carotenoid contents. Two watermelon cultivars (Crimson tide, CT, and Crisby) were grafted onto three commercial Cucurbita maxima x C. moschata hybrid rootstocks under climate-chamber conditions (Strong tosa, ST, Ercole and Nun 9075). The grafted seedlings were transplanted onto 8 L continuously aerated pots containing nutrient solution with two different pH levels (8.5 and 6.5) and replicated three times. The results showed that in both grafted and non-grafted plants, there was a substantial reduction in shoot and root biomass production at high pH levels. At high pH level, the significantly highest leaf area, stem length, SPAD, concentration of P, Ca, S and Mn in leaf tissues were recorded in graft combination 'Crisby/Ercole', whereas the significantly highest concentration of Fe in leaf tissues, shoot dry weight were recorded in graft combination 'Crisby/Nun 9075'. Moreover, at high pH, the significantly highest concentration of Mg and Cu in shoot under high pH levels was significantly found in graft combination of 'CT/ST'. These results suggest that the use of interspecific Cucurbita maxima x C. moschata hybrid rootstocks can improve crop performance in watermelon plants under alkaline conditions.