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Identification of a candidate gene for the I locus determining the dominant white bulb color in onion (Allium cepa L.)

White bulb colors in onion (Allium cepa L.) are determined by either the C or I loci. The causal gene for the C locus was previously isolated, but the gene responsible for the I locus has not been identified yet. To identify candidate genes for the I locus, an approximately 7-Mb genomic DNA region harboring the I locus was obtained from onion and bunching onion (A. fistulosum) whole genome sequences using two tightly linked molecular markers

Geonjoong Kim, Heejung Cho & Sunggil Kim

Theoretical and Applied Genetics; 6 May 2024; Volume 137, article number 118

Key message

Through a map-based cloning approach, a gene coding for an R2R3-MYB transcription factor was identified as a causal gene for the I locus controlling the dominant white bulb color in onion.

Abstract

White bulb colors in onion (Allium cepa L.) are determined by either the C or I loci. The causal gene for the C locus was previously isolated, but the gene responsible for the I locus has not been identified yet. To identify candidate genes for the I locus, an approximately 7-Mb genomic DNA region harboring the I locus was obtained from onion and bunching onion (A. fistulosum) whole genome sequences using two tightly linked molecular markers. Within this interval, the AcMYB1 gene, known as a positive regulator of anthocyanin production, was identified. No polymorphic sequences were found between white and red AcMYB1 alleles in the 4,860-bp full-length genomic DNA sequences. However, a 4,838-bp LTR-retrotransposon was identified in the white allele, in the 79-bp upstream coding region from the stop codon. The insertion of this LTR-retrotransposon created a premature stop codon, resulting in the replacement of 26 amino acids with seven different residues. A molecular marker was developed based on the insertion of this LTR-retrotransposon to genotype the I locus. A perfect linkage between bulb color phenotypes and marker genotypes was observed among 5,303 individuals of segregating populations. The transcription of AcMYB1 appeared to be normal in both red and white onions, but the transcription of CHS-A, which encodes chalcone synthase and is involved in the first step of the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway, was inactivated in the white onions. Taken together, an aberrant AcMYB1 protein produced from the mutant allele might be responsible for the dominant white bulb color in onions.

 

See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-024-04626-9

 

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