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QTL mapping and genomic analyses of earliness and fruit ripening traits in a melon Recombinant Inbred Lines population supported by de novo assembly of their parental genomes.
Horticulture Research  (IF6.793),  Pub Date : 2022-01-19, DOI: 10.1093/hr/uhab081
Elad Oren,Galil Tzuri,Asaf Dafna,Evan R Rees,Baoxing Song,Shiri Freilich,Yonatan Elkind,Tal Isaacson,Arthur A Schaffer,Yaakov Tadmor,Joseph Burger,Edward S Buckler,Amit Gur

Earliness and ripening behavior are important attributes of fruits on and off the vine, and affect quality and preference of both growers and consumers. Fruit ripening is a complex physiological process that involves metabolic shifts affecting fruit color, firmness, and aroma production. Melon is a promising model crop for the study of fruit ripening, as the full spectrum of climacteric behavior is represented across the natural variation. Using Recombinant Inbred Lines (RILs) population derived from the parental lines "Dulce" (reticulatus, climacteric) and "Tam Dew" (inodorus, non-climacteric) that vary in earliness and ripening traits, we mapped QTLs for ethylene emission, fruit firmness and days to flowering and maturity. To further annotate the main QTL intervals and identify candidate genes, we used Oxford Nanopore long-read sequencing in combination with Illumina short-read resequencing, to assemble the parental genomes de-novo. In addition to 2.5 million genome-wide SNPs and short InDels detected between the parents, we also highlight here the structural variation between these lines and the reference melon genome. Through systematic multi-layered prioritization process, we identified 18 potential polymorphisms in candidate genes within multi-trait QTLs. The associations of selected SNPs with earliness and ripening traits were further validated across a panel of 177 diverse melon accessions and across a diallel population of 190 F1 hybrids derived from a core subset of 20 diverse parents. The combination of advanced genomic tools with diverse germplasm and targeted mapping populations is demonstrated as a way to leverage forward genetics strategies to dissect complex horticulturally important traits.