skip to main content

Title: Genomic analyses provide insights into spinach domestication and the genetic basis of agronomic traits

Spinach is a nutritious leafy vegetable belonging to the family Chenopodiaceae. Here we report a high-quality chromosome-scale reference genome assembly of spinach and genome resequencing of 305 cultivated and wild spinach accessions. Reconstruction of ancestral Chenopodiaceae karyotype indicates substantial genome rearrangements in spinach after its divergence from ancestral Chenopodiaceae, coinciding with high repeat content in the spinach genome. Population genomic analyses provide insights into spinach genetic diversity and population differentiation. Genome-wide association studies of 20 agronomical traits identify numerous significantly associated regions and candidate genes for these traits. Domestication sweeps in the spinach genome are identified, some of which are associated with important traits (e.g., leaf phenotype, bolting and flowering), demonstrating the role of artificial selection in shaping spinach phenotypic evolution. This study provides not only insights into the spinach evolution and domestication but also valuable resources for facilitating spinach breeding.

; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Cisandtransregulatory divergence underlies phenotypic and evolutionary diversification. Relatively little is understood about the complexity of regulatory evolution accompanying crop domestication, particularly for polyploid plants. Here, we compare the fiber transcriptomes between wild and domesticated cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) and their reciprocal F1hybrids, revealing genome-wide (~15%) and often compensatorycisandtransregulatory changes under divergence and domestication. The high level oftransevolution (54%–64%) observed is likely enabled by genomic redundancy following polyploidy. Our results reveal that regulatory variation is significantly associated with sequence evolution, inheritance of parental expression patterns, co-expression gene network properties, and genomic loci responsible for domestication traits. With respect to regulatory evolution, the two subgenomes of allotetraploid cotton are often uncoupled. Overall, our work underscores the complexity of regulatory evolution during fiber domestication and may facilitate new approaches for improving cotton and other polyploid plants.

  2. The process of evolution under domestication has been studied using phylogenetics, population genetics–genomics, quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, gene expression assays, and archaeology. Here, we apply an evolutionary quantitative genetic approach to understand the constraints imposed by the genetic architecture of trait variation in teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize, and the consequences of domestication on genetic architecture. Using modern teosinte and maize landrace populations as proxies for the ancestor and domesticate, respectively, we estimated heritabilities, additive and dominance genetic variances, genetic-by-environment variances, genetic correlations, and genetic covariances for 18 domestication-related traits using realized genomic relationships estimated from genome-wide markers. We found a reduction in heritabilities across most traits, and the reduction is stronger in reproductive traits (size and numbers of grains and ears) than vegetative traits. We observed larger depletion in additive genetic variance than dominance genetic variance. Selection intensities during domestication were weak for all traits, with reproductive traits showing the highest values. For 17 of 18 traits, neutral divergence is rejected, suggesting they were targets of selection during domestication. Yield (total grain weight) per plant is the sole trait that selection does not appear to have improved in maize relative to teosinte. From a multivariate evolution perspective,more »we identified a strong, nonneutral divergence between teosinte and maize landrace genetic variance–covariance matrices (G-matrices). While the structure of G-matrix in teosinte posed considerable genetic constraint on early domestication, the maize landrace G-matrix indicates that the degree of constraint is more unfavorable for further evolution along the same trajectory.

    « less
  3. Abstract

    Ethiopian mustard (Brassica carinata) is an ancient crop with remarkable stress resilience and a desirable seed fatty acid profile for biofuel uses. Brassica carinata is one of six Brassica species that share three major genomes from three diploid species (AA, BB, and CC) that spontaneously hybridized in a pairwise manner to form three allotetraploid species (AABB, AACC, and BBCC). Of the genomes of these species, that of B. carinata is the least understood. Here, we report a chromosome scale 1.31-Gbp genome assembly with 156.9-fold sequencing coverage for B. carinata, completing the reference genomes comprising the classic Triangle of U, a classical theory of the evolutionary relationships among these six species. Our assembly provides insights into the hybridization event that led to the current B. carinata genome and the genomic features that gave rise to the superior agronomic traits of B. carinata. Notably, we identified an expansion of transcription factor networks and agronomically important gene families. Completion of the Triangle of U comparative genomics platform has allowed us to examine the dynamics of polyploid evolution and the role of subgenome dominance in the domestication and continuing agronomic improvement of B. carinata and other Brassica species.

  4. Abstract

    The ability of animals to sync the timing and location of molting (the replacement of hair, skin, exoskeletons or feathers) with peaks in resource availability has important implications for their ecology and evolution. In migratory birds, the timing and location of pre-migratory feather molting, a period when feathers are shed and replaced with newer, more aerodynamic feathers, can vary within and between species. While hypotheses to explain the evolution of intraspecific variation in the timing and location of molt have been proposed, little is known about the genetic basis of this trait or the specific environmental drivers that may result in natural selection for distinct molting phenotypes. Here we take advantage of intraspecific variation in the timing and location of molt in the iconic songbird, the Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) to investigate the genetic and ecological drivers of distinct molting phenotypes. Specifically, we use genome-wide genetic sequencing in combination with stable isotope analysis to determine population genetic structure and molting phenotype across thirteen breeding sites. We then use genome-wide association analysis (GWAS) to identify a suite of genes associated with molting and pair this with gene-environment association analysis (GEA) to investigate potential environmental drivers of genetic variation in thismore »trait. Associations between genetic variation in molt-linked genes and the environment are further tested via targeted SNP genotyping in 25 additional breeding populations across the range. Together, our integrative analysis suggests that molting is in part regulated by genes linked to feather development and structure (GLI2andCSPG4) and that genetic variation in these genes is associated with seasonal variation in precipitation and aridity. Overall, this work provides important insights into the genetic basis and potential selective forces behind phenotypic variation in what is arguably one of the most important fitness-linked traits in a migratory bird.

    « less
  5. Purugganan, Michael (Ed.)
    Abstract Structural variants (SVs) are a largely unstudied feature of plant genome evolution, despite the fact that SVs contribute substantially to phenotypes. In this study, we discovered SVs across a population sample of 347 high-coverage, resequenced genomes of Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and its wild ancestor (O. rufipogon). In addition to this short-read data set, we also inferred SVs from whole-genome assemblies and long-read data. Comparisons among data sets revealed different features of genome variability. For example, genome alignment identified a large (∼4.3 Mb) inversion in indica rice varieties relative to japonica varieties, and long-read analyses suggest that ∼9% of genes from the outgroup (O. longistaminata) are hemizygous. We focused, however, on the resequencing sample to investigate the population genomics of SVs. Clustering analyses with SVs recapitulated the rice cultivar groups that were also inferred from SNPs. However, the site-frequency spectrum of each SV type—which included inversions, duplications, deletions, translocations, and mobile element insertions—was skewed toward lower frequency variants than synonymous SNPs, suggesting that SVs may be predominantly deleterious. Among transposable elements, SINE and mariner insertions were found at especially low frequency. We also used SVs to study domestication by contrasting between rice and O. rufipogon. Cultivated genomes contained ∼25% more derived SVs andmore »mobile element insertions than O. rufipogon, indicating that SVs contribute to the cost of domestication in rice. Peaks of SV divergence were enriched for known domestication genes, but we also detected hundreds of genes gained and lost during domestication, some of which were enriched for traits of agronomic interest.« less