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  1. Abstract

    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.

  2. Abstract

    Domestication of the apple was mainly driven by interspecific hybridization. In the present study, we report the haplotype-resolved genomes of the cultivated apple (Malus domesticacv. Gala) and its two major wild progenitors,M. sieversiiandM. sylvestris. Substantial variations are identified between the two haplotypes of each genome. Inference of genome ancestry identifies ~23% of the Gala genome as of hybrid origin. Deep sequencing of 91 accessions identifies selective sweeps in cultivated apples that originated from either of the two progenitors and are associated with important domestication traits. Construction and analyses of apple pan-genomes uncover thousands of new genes, with hundreds of them being selected from one of the progenitors and largely fixed in cultivated apples, revealing that introgression of new genes/alleles is a hallmark of apple domestication through hybridization. Finally, transcriptome profiles of Gala fruits at 13 developmental stages unravel ~19% of genes displaying allele-specific expression, including many associated with fruit quality.

  3. Abstract

    Solanum pimpinellifolium(SP) is the wild progenitor of cultivated tomato. Because of its remarkable stress tolerance and intense flavor, SP has been used as an important germplasm donor in modern tomato breeding. Here, we present a high-quality chromosome-scale genome sequence of SP LA2093. Genome comparison identifies more than 92,000 structural variants (SVs) between LA2093 and the modern cultivar, Heinz 1706. Genotyping these SVs in ~600 representative tomato accessions identifies alleles under selection during tomato domestication, improvement and modern breeding, and discovers numerous SVs overlapping genes known to regulate important breeding traits such as fruit weight and lycopene content. Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis detects hotspots harboring master regulators controlling important fruit quality traits, including cuticular wax accumulation and flavonoid biosynthesis, and SVs contributing to these complex regulatory networks. The LA2093 genome sequence and the identified SVs provide rich resources for future research and biodiversity-based breeding.

  4. Abstract

    Use of CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-CRISPR-associated 9)-mediated genome editing has proliferated for use in numerous plant species to modify gene function and expression, usually in the context of either transient or stably inherited genetic alternations. While extremely useful in many applications, modification of some loci yields outcomes detrimental to further experimental evaluation or viability of the target organism. Expression of Cas9 under a promoter conferring gene knockouts in a tissue-specific subset of genomes has been demonstrated in insect and animal models, and recently inArabidopsis. We developed an in planta GFP (green fluorescent protein) assay system to demonstrate fruit-specific gene editing in tomato using aphosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase 2gene promoter. We then targeted a SET-domain containing polycomb protein, SlEZ2, previously shown to yield pleiotropic phenotypes when targeted via35S-driven RNA interference and we were able to characterize fruit phenotypes absent additional developmental perturbations. Tissue-specific gene editing will have applications in assessing function of essential genes otherwise difficult to study via germline modifications and will provide routes to edited genomes in tissues that could not otherwise be recovered when their germline modification perturbs their normal development.

  5. Although they are staple foods in cuisines globally, many commercial fruit varieties have become progressively less flavorful over time. Due to the cost and difficulty associated with flavor phenotyping, breeding programs have long been challenged in selecting for this complex trait. To address this issue, we leveraged targeted metabolomics of diverse tomato and blueberry accessions and their corresponding consumer panel ratings to create statistical and machine learning models that can predict sensory perceptions of fruit flavor. Using these models, a breeding program can assess flavor ratings for a large number of genotypes, previously limited by the low throughput of consumer sensory panels. The ability to predict consumer ratings of liking, sweet, sour, umami, and flavor intensity was evaluated by a 10-fold cross-validation, and the accuracies of 18 different models were assessed. The prediction accuracies were high for most attributes and ranged from 0.87 for sourness intensity in blueberry using XGBoost to 0.46 for overall liking in tomato using linear regression. Further, the best-performing models were used to infer the flavor compounds (sugars, acids, and volatiles) that contribute most to each flavor attribute. We found that the variance decomposition of overall liking score estimates that 42% and 56% of the variancemore »was explained by volatile organic compounds in tomato and blueberry, respectively. We expect that these models will enable an earlier incorporation of flavor as breeding targets and encourage selection and release of more flavorful fruit varieties.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2023
  6. Plant organs and tissues are comprised of an array of cell types often superimposed on a gradient of developmental stages. As a result, the ability to analyze and understand the synthesis, metabolism, and accumulation of plant biomolecules requires improved methods for cell- and tissue-specific analysis. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is the world’s most valuable fruit crop and is an important source of health-promoting dietary compounds, including carotenoids. Furthermore, tomato possesses unique genetic activities at the cell and tissue levels, making it an ideal system for tissue- and cell-type analysis of important biochemicals. A sample preparation workflow was developed for cell-type-specific carotenoid analysis in tomato fruit samples. Protocols for hyperspectral imaging of tomato fruit samples, cryoembedding and sectioning of pericarp tissue, laser microdissection of specific cell types, metabolite extraction using cell wall digestion enzymes and pressure cycling, and carotenoid quantification by supercritical fluid chromatography were optimized and integrated into a working protocol. The workflow was applied to quantify carotenoids in the cuticle and noncuticle component of the tomato pericarp during fruit development from the initial ripening to full ripe stages. Carotenoids were extracted and quantified from cell volumes less than 10 nL. This workflow for cell-type-specific metabolite extraction and quantification can bemore »adapted for the analysis of diverse metabolites, cell types, and organisms« less
  7. Abstract Pear is a major fruit tree crop distributed worldwide, yet its breeding is a very time-consuming process. To facilitate molecular breeding and gene identification, here we have performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on eleven fruit traits. We identify 37 loci associated with eight fruit quality traits and five loci associated with three fruit phenological traits. Scans for selective sweeps indicate that traits including fruit stone cell content, organic acid and sugar contents might have been under continuous selection during breeding improvement. One candidate gene, PbrSTONE , identified in GWAS, has been functionally verified to be involved in the regulation of stone cell formation, one of the most important fruit quality traits in pear. Our study provides insights into the complex fruit related biology and identifies genes controlling important traits in pear through GWAS, which extends the genetic resources and basis for facilitating molecular breeding in perennial trees.
  8. Abstract Background Brassica oleracea includes several morphologically diverse, economically important vegetable crops, such as the cauliflower and cabbage. However, genetic variants, especially large structural variants (SVs), that underlie the extreme morphological diversity of B. oleracea remain largely unexplored. Results Here we present high-quality chromosome-scale genome assemblies for two B. oleracea morphotypes, cauliflower and cabbage. Direct comparison of these two assemblies identifies ~ 120 K high-confidence SVs. Population analysis of 271 B. oleracea accessions using these SVs clearly separates different morphotypes, suggesting the association of SVs with B. oleracea intraspecific divergence. Genes affected by SVs selected between cauliflower and cabbage are enriched with functions related to response to stress and stimulus and meristem and flower development. Furthermore, genes affected by selected SVs and involved in the switch from vegetative to generative growth that defines curd initiation, inflorescence meristem proliferation for curd formation, maintenance and enlargement, are identified, providing insights into the regulatory network of curd development. Conclusions This study reveals the important roles of SVs in diversification of different morphotypes of B. oleracea , and the newly assembled genomes and the SVs provide rich resources for future research and breeding.
  9. Fruit softening is a key component of the irreversible ripening program, contributing to the palatability necessary for frugivore-mediated seed dispersal. The underlying textural changes are complex and result from cell wall remodeling and changes in both cell adhesion and turgor. While a number of transcription factors (TFs) that regulate ripening have been identified, these affect most canonical ripening-related physiological processes. Here, we show that a tomato fruit ripening–specific LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDRIES ( LOB ) TF, SlLOB1 , up-regulates a suite of cell wall–associated genes during late maturation and ripening of locule and pericarp tissues. SlLOB1 repression in transgenic fruit impedes softening, while overexpression throughout the plant under the direction of the 35s promoter confers precocious induction of cell wall gene expression and premature softening. Transcript and protein levels of the wall-loosening protein EXPANSIN1 ( EXP1 ) are strongly suppressed in Sl LOB1 RNA interference lines, while EXP1 is induced in Sl LOB1 -overexpressing transgenic leaves and fruit. In contrast to the role of ethylene and previously characterized ripening TFs, which are comprehensive facilitators of ripening phenomena including softening, Sl LOB1 participates in a regulatory subcircuit predominant to cell wall dynamics and softening.