Chasing breeding footprints through structural variations in Cucumis melo and wild relatives



Cucumis melo (melon or muskmelon) is an important crop in the family of the Cucurbitaceae. Melon is cross pollinated and domesticated at several locations throughout the breeding history, resulting in highly diverse genetic structure in the germplasm. Yet, the relations among the groups and cultivars are still incomplete. We shed light on the melon breeding history, analysing structural variations (SV) ranging from 50 bp up to 100kb, identified from whole genome sequences of 100 selected melon accessions and wild relatives. Phylogenetic trees based on SV types completely resolve cultivars and wild accessions into two monophyletic groups and clustering of cultivars largely correlates with their geographic origin. Taking into account morphology, we found 6 mis-categorized cultivars. Unique inversions are more often shared between cultivars, carrying advantageous genes and do not directly originate from wild species. Approximately 60% of the inversion breaks carry a long poly A/T motif, and following observations in other plant species, suggest that inversions in melon likely resulted from meiotic recombination events. We show that the resistance genes in the linkage V region are expanded in the cultivar genomes compared to wild relatives. Furthermore, particular agronomic traits such as fruit ripening, fragrance and stress response are specifically selected for in the melon subspecies. These results represent distinctive footprints of selective breeding that shaped today’s melon. The sequences and genomic relations between land races, wild relatives and cultivars will serve the community to identify genetic diversity, optimize experimental designs, and enhance crop development.
Date made available22 Nov 2020
PublisherWageningen University


  • Cucumis melo
  • genome sequencing

Accession numbers

  • PRJEB37978
  • ERP121339

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