Author Topic: Behind the rind: New genomic insights into watermelon evolution, quality, and resilience  (Read 422 times)

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Online Kamaji

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Behind the rind:  New genomic insights into watermelon evolution, quality, and resilience

Date:  August 11, 2023
Source:  Boyce Thompson Institute
Summary:  Scientists have constructed a comprehensive 'super-pangenome' for watermelon and its wild relatives, uncovering beneficial genes lost during domestication that could improve disease resistance and fruit quality of this vital fruit crop.

Watermelon is a globally significant agricultural product, both in terms of the total amount produced and the total economic value generated.

Scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute have constructed a comprehensive "super-pangenome" for watermelon and its wild relatives, uncovering beneficial genes lost during domestication that could improve disease resistance and fruit quality of this vital fruit crop.

"We aimed to delve deeper into the genetic variations that make watermelons so diverse and unique," stated Professor Zhangjun Fei, the study's lead author. "Our findings not only provide insights into the evolutionary journey of watermelons but also present significant implications for breeding and disease resistance."

The watermelon super-pangenome was built using reference genome sequences and genome resequencing data from 547 watermelon accessions spanning four species -- cultivated watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) and its wild relatives C. mucosospermus, C. amarus, and C. colocynthis.

Analyses of the super-pangenome revealed that many disease-resistance genes present in wild species were lost during domestication, as early farmers selected for fruit quality traits like sweetness, flesh color, and rind thickness. "These beneficial genes could be reintroduced into modern cultivars to breed more resilient watermelon varieties," noted Fei.

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Source:  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230811143826.htm