Comparative genomics of muskmelon reveals a potential role for retrotransposons in the modification of gene expression

Melon exhibits substantial natural variation especially in fruit ripening physiology, including both climacteric (ethylene-producing) and non-climacteric types. However, genomic mechanisms underlying such variation are not yet fully understood. Here, we report an Oxford Nanopore-based high-grade genome reference in the semi-climacteric cultivar Harukei-3 (378 Mb + 33,829 protein-coding genes), with an update of tissue-wide RNA-seq atlas in the Melonet-DB database.

Comparison between Harukei-3 and DHL92, the first published melon genome, enabled identification of 24,758 one-to-one orthologue gene pairs, whereas others were candidates of copy number variation or presence/absence polymorphisms (PAPs). Further comparison based on 10 melon genome assemblies identified genome-wide PAPs of 415 retrotransposon Gag-like sequences.

Of these, 160 showed fruit ripening-inducible expression, with 59.4% of the neighboring genes showing similar expression patterns (r > 0.8). Our results suggest that retrotransposons contributed to the modification of gene expression during diversification of melon genomes, and may affect fruit ripening-inducible gene

Authors: Ryoichi Yano, Tohru Ariizumi, Satoko Nonaka, Yoichi Kawazu, Silin Zhong, Lukas Mueller, James J. Giovannoni, Jocelyn K. C. Rose, Hiroshi Ezura