CucCAP scientists release genome of principal American watermelon cultivar and genetically characterize the National Plant Germplasm System watermelon collection

Years of selection for desirable fruit quality traits in dessert watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) has resulted in a narrow genetic base in modern cultivars. Development of novel genomic and genetic resources offers great potential to expand genetic diversity and improve important traits in watermelon. The CucCAP team has developed a high‐quality genome sequence for the principal American dessert watermelon cultivar ‘Charleston Gray’ and genotyped 1365 watermelon PI lines maintained at the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Comparative and population genomic analyses using these datasets revealed genomic variants that may underlie phenotypic differences between the American and East Asian watermelon cultivars, allowed assessment of genetic diversity within different Citrullus species and geographic groups, and provided insights into their phylogenetic relationships and the domestication and dispersal history of watermelon. Furthermore, genome‐wide association studies (GWAS) identified genomic regions associated with important fruit quality and disease resistance traits. View the Agricultural Research Service press release regarding the Charleston Gray Watermelon Genome.

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In Plant Biotechnology Journal

Wu et al., 2019.  Genome of ‘Charleston Gray’, the principal American watermelon cultivar, and genetic characterization of 1,365 accessions in the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System watermelon collection