Fruit size and shape are important qualities and yield traits in cucumber (Cucumis sativus
L.), but the factors that influence fruit size and shape remain to be explored. In this study, we investigated the dynamic changes of fruit size and shape from the aspects of morphology, cellular levels and endogenous hormones for nine typical cucumber inbred lines. The results show that fruit length had a strong positive correlation to the cell number in the longitudinal section of fruit throughout the four stages of 0, 6, 12, and 30 DAA (days after anthesis). However, the significant negative correlations were found between fruit length and the fruit cell size at 12 and 30 DAA. Furthermore, fruit diameter was positively correlated to the cell number in the cross section at all the investigated fruit growth stages. The indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) content showed significant positive correlations to the fruit length at all fruit growth stages of −6, −3, 0, 3, 6, 9 and 12 DAA, but IAA content and fruit diameter showed significant negative correlations for all the stages except for at −6 DAA. The trans-zeatin riboside (tZR), zeatin (ZT), gibberellic acid (GA3
) and jasmonic acid (JA) content had a positive or negative correlation with fruit length or diameter only at certain stages. Neither fruit length nor diameter had significant correlations to abscisic acid (ABA) content. These results indicate that variations in fruit size and shape of different cucumber inbred lines mainly result from the differences in fruit cell number and endogenous IAA content. The present work is the first to propose cucumber fruit size and shape changes from the combined aspects of morphology, cellular levels, and endogenous hormones.
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