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Genome wide characterization of simple sequence repeats in watermelon genome and their application in comparative mapping and genetic diversity analysis

Huayu Zhu, Pengyao Song, Dal-Hoe Koo, Luqin Guo, Yanman Li, Shouru Sun, Yiqun Weng, Luming Yang
BMC genomics 2016 v.17 no.1 pp. 1-17
Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucumis sativus, chromosome mapping, crops, cucumbers, evolution, genetic background, genetic markers, genetic variation, genome, germplasm conservation, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, karyotyping, loci, marker-assisted selection, microsatellite repeats, molecular cloning, polymerase chain reaction, population structure, quantitative trait loci, watermelons
Background: Microsatellite markers are one of the most informative and versatile DNA-based markers used in plant genetic research, but their development has traditionally been difficult and costly. The whole genome sequencing with next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies provides large amounts of sequence data to develop numerous microsatellite markers at whole genome scale. SSR markers have great advantage in cross-species comparisons and allow investigation of karyotype and genome evolution through highly efficient computation approaches such as in silico PCR. Here we described genome wide development and characterization of SSR markers in the watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) genome, which were then use in comparative analysis with two other important crop species in the Cucurbitaceae family: cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and melon (Cucumis melo L.). We further applied these markers in evaluating the genetic diversity and population structure in watermelon germplasm collections. Results: A total of 39,523 microsatellite loci were identified from the watermelon draft genome with an overall density of 111 SSRs/Mbp, and 32,869 SSR primers were designed with suitable flanking sequences. The dinucleotide SSRs were the most common type representing 34.09 % of the total SSR loci and the AT-rich motifs were the most abundant in all nucleotide repeat types. In silico PCR analysis identified 832 and 925 SSR markers with each having a single amplicon in the cucumber and melon draft genome, respectively. Comparative analysis with these cross-species SSR markers revealed complicated mosaic patterns of syntenic blocks among the genomes of three species. In addition, genetic diversity analysis of 134 watermelon accessions with 32 highly informative SSR loci placed these lines into two groups with all accessions of C.lanatus var. citorides and three accessions of C. colocynthis clustered in one group and all accessions of C. lanatus var. lanatus and the remaining accessions of C. colocynthis clustered in another group. Furthermore, structure analysis was consistent with the dendrogram indicating the 134 watermelon accessions were classified into two populations. Conclusion: The large number of genome wide SSR markers developed herein from the watermelon genome provides a valuable resource for genetic map construction, QTL exploration, map-based gene cloning and marker-assisted selection in watermelon which has a very narrow genetic base and extremely low polymorphism among cultivated lines. Furthermore, the cross-species transferable SSR markers identified herein should also have practical uses in many applications in species of Cucurbitaceae family whose whole genome sequences are not yet available.