Exploring the Diversity of Tropical Pumpkin in Costa Rica

Lizzie Gill, University of New Hampshire, Durham


A decrease in crop biodiversity within the commercial agricultural sector has prompted plant breeders to explore and utilize wild varieties from each crop’s region of origin to provide enhanced resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. This study explores the diversity of the economically significant tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) present in Costa Rica. Through a nine-week independently designed International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) research grant, I traveled to geographically different cities and farmers’ markets around Costa Rica and communicated with local farmers to collect diverse tropical pumpkin samples. I spent the weekdays with Costa Rican professors at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) Fabio Baudrit Agricultural Station to assess physical and genetic variation among these samples. The completed project provides a detailed inventory of tropical pumpkin and shows the wide variety present in Costa Rica. A high presence of international hybrid varieties observed in farmers' markets suggests an agricultural shift occurring in Latin America.