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The branchless gene Clbl in watermelon encoding a TERMINAL FLOWER 1 protein regulates the number of lateral branches
Tuesday, 2022/01/25 | 08:14:27

Junling DouHuihui YangDongling SunSen YangShouru SunShengjie ZhaoXuqiang LuHuayu ZhuDongming LiuChangsheng MaWenge Liu & Luming Yang

Theoretical and Applied GeneticsJanuary 2022, vol. 135: 65–79

Key message

A SNP mutation in Clbl gene encoding TERMINAL FLOWER 1 protein is responsible for watermelon branchless.

Abstract

Lateral branching is one of the most important traits, which directly determines plant architecture and crop productivity. Commercial watermelon has the characteristics of multiple lateral branches, and it is time-consuming and labor-costing to manually remove the lateral branches in traditional watermelon cultivation. In our present study, a lateral branchless trait was identified in watermelon material WCZ, and genetic analysis revealed that it was controlled by a single recessive gene, which named as Clbl (Citrullus lanatus branchless). A bulked segregant sequencing (BSA-seq) and linkage analysis was conducted to primarily map Clbl on watermelon chromosome 4. Next-generation sequencing-aided marker discovery and a large mapping population consisting of 1406 F2 plants were used to further map Clbl locus into a 9011-bp candidate region, which harbored only one candidate gene Cla018392 encoding a TERMINAL FLOWER 1 protein. Sequence comparison of Cla018392 between two parental lines revealed that there was a SNP detected from C to A in the coding region in the branchless inbred line WCZ, which resulted in a mutation from alanine (GCA) to glutamate (GAA) at the fourth exon. A dCAPS marker was developed from the SNP locus, which was co-segregated with the branchless phenotype in both BC1 and F2 population, and it was further validated in 152 natural watermelon accessions. qRT-PCR and in situ hybridization showed that the expression level of Cla018392 was significantly reduced in the axillary bud and apical bud in branchless line WCZ. Ectopic expression of ClTFL1 in Arabidopsis showed an increased number of lateral branches. The results of this study will be helpful for better understanding the molecular mechanism of lateral branch development in watermelon and for the development of marker-assisted selection (MAS) for new branchless watermelon cultivars.

 

See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-021-03952-6

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