A public-private consortium approach for sustainable bitter gourd breeding and production in Asia

N.P.S. Dhillon
Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.) is a commercially and nutritionally important cucurbitaceous vegetable cultivated on more than 400,000 ha annually in Asia. Over the last two decades, bitter gourd breeders have successfully improved cultivars for fruit types fitting different market niches. Breeders have mainly focused on crossing elite lines, which has reduced the genetic diversity among commercial bitter gourd cultivars of various market segments. Low genetic diversity in elite bitter gourd cultivars has rendered the crop vulnerable to biotic and abiotic stresses and limited long-term yield improvements. This trend cannot be reversed unless a concerted effort is made to introduce additional genetic diversity. World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) has organized a bitter gourd support group for private seed companies and public organizations so that breeders can access the Center’s new breeding lines derived from biodiverse landraces to develop new, genetically improved high quality bitter gourd cultivars with enhanced fruit yield and disease resistance. To facilitate this partnership, the WorldVeg cucurbit team displays improved bitter gourd breeding lines and F1 hybrids and products of recurrent selection during the annual Bitter Gourd Open Field Days at the WorldVeg East and Southeast Asia Research and Training Station, located in Kasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand. This event attracts breeders, pathologists, product development managers, marketing and sale managers, R&D heads, and managing directors representing 25-30 seed companies from across Asia. WorldVeg’s cucurbit team discusses the specific horticultural traits of WorldVeg’s unique lines and F1 hybrids with seed industry staff, explores methods to address the narrow genetic base of current commercial cultivars, and maps a way forward to create new market segments of bitter gourd to satisfy the needs of various value chain actors.
Dhillon, N.P.S. (2023). A public-private consortium approach for sustainable bitter gourd breeding and production in Asia. Acta Hortic. 1362, 553-556
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2023.1362.74
bitter gourd, public-private partnership, disease resistance, breeding

Acta Horticulturae