Genome Blueprint of Dwarf Apple Hybrid SH6

Greg Howard
30th May, 2024

Genome Blueprint of Dwarf Apple Hybrid SH6

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Beijing University of Agriculture successfully assembled two haploid genomes for the apple hybrid 'SH6', valued for its dwarfing and cold tolerance traits
  • The study used advanced sequencing technologies to achieve high-quality genome assemblies, crucial for understanding the genetic makeup of 'SH6'
  • The assembled genomes provide a valuable resource for identifying genes linked to dwarfing, potentially aiding in the development of improved apple varieties
The Beijing University of Agriculture has made a significant advancement in the field of genomics by successfully assembling two haploid genomes for the apple interstock Malus hybrid 'SH6' (M. honanensis × M. domestica)[1]. This apple hybrid is highly valued in China for its dwarfing characteristics and cold tolerance, making it a crucial component in apple cultivation. To achieve this, researchers employed a combined strategy using PacBio HiFi sequencing, Hi-C technology, and parental resequencing data. The PacBio HiFi sequencing technology is known for producing long, high-fidelity reads, which are crucial for assembling complex genomes with high accuracy. Hi-C technology, on the other hand, helps in determining the three-dimensional structure of the genome, which aids in anchoring the assembled sequences to chromosomes. Parental resequencing data provided additional reference points to accurately separate and assemble the haploid genomes of 'SH6'. The final assembled hapH genome size was 596.63 Mb with a contig N50 of 34.38 Mb, while the hapR genome was 649.37 Mb with a contig N50 of 36.84 Mb. The term "contig N50" refers to the length at which 50% of the total assembly is contained in contigs (continuous sequences) of that length or longer, indicating the quality and completeness of the assembly. Further analysis revealed that repeated sequences constituted 59.69% and 62.52% of the hapH and hapR genomes, respectively. Gene annotations identified 45,435 genes in hapH and 48,261 genes in hapR. To understand the origins of these genomes, the researchers performed genomic synteny analysis, which involves comparing the order of genes on chromosomes between different species or individuals. This analysis suggested that the hapR genome originates from the maternal parent, M. domestica cv. Ralls Janet, while the hapH genome comes from the paternal parent, M. honanensis. This study builds on earlier research in genome assembly and analysis. For example, GenomeScope 2.0 has been instrumental in estimating genome characteristics such as size, heterozygosity, and repetitiveness by analyzing k-mer frequencies in sequencing reads[2]. This tool could have been used in the initial stages of the 'SH6' genome assembly to estimate these crucial parameters. Moreover, the development of hifiasm, a de novo assembler that preserves the contiguity of all haplotypes, has proven beneficial in producing high-quality phased assemblies[3]. This technology's ability to handle complex genomes, such as the hexaploid genome of the California redwood, likely influenced the approach taken in assembling the 'SH6' genome. Furthermore, the alignment capabilities of MUMmer4, which can handle large genomes and sequence datasets through improved data structures and parallel processing, may have been employed to compare the assembled genomes with reference genomes[4]. This step is essential for validating the accuracy of the assembly and identifying structural variations. The successful assembly of the 'SH6' genome is a significant contribution to the field of apple genomics. It provides a valuable resource for discovering genes associated with dwarfing and understanding the molecular mechanisms behind this trait. This knowledge can potentially lead to the development of new apple varieties with improved characteristics, benefiting apple growers and consumers alike.

GeneticsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) The chromosome-level genome assembly of the dwarfing apple interstock Malus hybrid 'SH6'.

Published 29th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) GenomeScope 2.0 and Smudgeplot for reference-free profiling of polyploid genomes.

3) Haplotype-resolved de novo assembly using phased assembly graphs with hifiasm.

4) MUMmer4: A fast and versatile genome alignment system.

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