Senior Mishi Vachev works in Associate Professor of Biology Liza Conrad’s lab, studying plant pathology, the study of plant diseases and solutions. According to Vachev, the lab focuses on a new variety of cantaloupe created on campus: the Triton Melon.
According to Vachev, the Triton project, which started in 2014, set out to make this new eastern variety of cantaloupe cultivar taste better while simultaneously being more resistant to disease.
Vachev explains that the lab mainly focuses on a fungal disease called Fusarium Wilt (Fusarium oxysporum).
While Vachev was not directly involved with the creation of the Triton melon, her work is still vital to the lab.
“My role in the lab is to conduct fungal screens and molecular genetic analysis to confirm Triton’s resistance. We infect the melons and check for symptoms,” Vachev said.
Vachev hopes that she will see the Triton melon sold in stores soon. According to her, the melon has already been planted and sold at a farm in South Florida. Triton melons are also grown on campus in the student garden and the greenhouse.
In addition to the scientific contributions made in the creation of the Triton, according to Vachev, the Triton simply tastes better. Taste is quantified by soluble solvents content and improved with the addition of Tuscan melon.
Eckerd students will get the opportunity to taste the Triton during finals week. Vachev, along with Conrad’s lab, will be conducting taste preference studies to wrap up the end of the semester.