Long-read Sequence Technology Used to Find Genes for Improvement of Watermelon Traits
Scientists from Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences took a
comprehensive look at the genomes of 414 watermelons representing seven
species, with the goal of finding genes that will help develop better fruit
quality and resistance to pests, disease, drought, and other biotic and
According to the paper published in Nature Genetics, the researchers
developed an enhanced version of a reference genome, which is used by
scientists and breeders to look for new and interesting versions of genes
from their samples. The first watermelon reference genome published in 2013
was created using short-read sequencing technologies. In the latest study,
long-read sequencing technologies were used to develop a better-quality
reference genome for the watermelon community.
Results showed that cultivated watermelon was domesticated by breeding out
the bitterness traits while boosting sweetness, fruit size, and flesh color.
The modern watermelon varieties have been further improved in the past few
hundred years through the improvement of sweetness, flavor and crispy
texture. The team also discovered parts of the watermelon genome that could
be altered for continuous improvement of fruit quality, such as by making
them bigger, sweeter, and crispier.