Where did watermelons come from?

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(Image credit: Charlene Collins via Getty Images) The iconic green and red watermelon is a sweet, refreshing summer staple. But it wasn’t always so sugary or vibrantly colored. So what did watermelons originally taste and look like, and from where did they originate? The thirst-quenching fruit isn’t from the Fertile Crescent of ancient Mesopotamia , as so many other domesticated crops are, research shows. Susanne Renner, a botanist at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany, and her colleagues carried out comprehensive genetic sequencing of the domesticated watermelon ( Citrullus lanatus ) — the kind you might find on supermarket shelves — along with six wild watermelon species. "We found the modern genomes of the domesticated watermelon are more closely related to the Sudanese wild type than any other that we analyzed," she told Live Science. The Sudanese wild watermelon has some notable differences to the domesticated version. "The flesh is white and not very sweet, and it’s mainly used as animal feed," Renner said. Nevertheless, the genetic similarity between the two species led the researchers to conclude that the Sudanese fruit is probably a precursor to the red and sweet domesticated watermelon, according to the June 2021 study […]

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