BMC genomics

Variability among Cucurbitaceae species (melon, cucumber and watermelon) in a genomic region containing a cluster of NBS-LRR genes.

PMID 28178932


Cucurbitaceae species contain a significantly lower number of genes coding for proteins with similarity to plant resistance genes belonging to the NBS-LRR family than other plant species of similar genome size. A large proportion of these genes are organized in clusters that appear to be hotspots of variability. The genomes of the Cucurbitaceae species measured until now are intermediate in size (between 350 and 450 Mb) and they apparently have not undergone any genome duplications beside those at the origin of eudicots. The cluster containing the largest number of NBS-LRR genes has previously been analyzed in melon and related species and showed a high degree of interspecific and intraspecific variability. It was of interest to study whether similar behavior occurred in other cluster of the same family of genes. The cluster of NBS-LRR genes located in melon chromosome 9 was analyzed and compared with the syntenic regions in other cucurbit genomes. This is the second cluster in number within this species and it contains nine sequences with a NBS-LRR annotation including two genes, Fom1 and Prv, providing resistance against Fusarium and Ppapaya ring-spot virus (PRSV). The variability within the melon species appears to consist essentially of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Clusters of similar genes are present in the syntenic regions of the two species of Cucurbitaceae that were sequenced, cucumber and watermelon. Most of the genes in the syntenic clusters can be aligned between species and a hypothesis of generation of the cluster is proposed. The number of genes in the watermelon cluster is similar to that in melon while a higher number of genes (12) is present in cucumber, a species with a smaller genome than melon. After comparing genome resequencing data of 115 cucumber varieties, deletion of a group of genes is observed in a group of varieties of Indian origin. Clusters of genes coding for NBS-LRR proteins in cucurbits appear to have specific variability in different regions of the genome and between different species. This observation is in favour of considering that the adaptation of plant species to changing environments is based upon the variability that may occur at any location in the genome and that has been produced by specific mechanisms of sequence variation acting on plant genomes. This information could be useful both to understand the evolution of species and for plant breeding.