Gene Mining and Genomics-assisted Breeding Empowered by the Pangenome of Tea Plant Camellia sinensis
Published:15 Dec.2023    Source:Nature Plants
Tea is one of the worlds oldest crops and is cultivated to produce beverages with various flavours. Despite advances in sequencing technologies, the genetic mechanisms underlying key agronomic traits of tea remain unclear.
In this study, we present a high-quality pangenome of 22 elite cultivars, representing broad genetic diversity in the species. Our analysis reveals that a recent long terminal repeat burst contributed nearly 20% of gene copies, introducing functional genetic variants that affect phenotypes such as leaf colour. Our graphical pangenome improves the efficiency of genome-wide association studies and allows the identification of key genes controlling bud flush timing.
We also identified strong correlations between allelic variants and flavour-related chemistries. These findings deepen our understanding of the genetic basis of tea quality and provide valuable genomic resources to facilitate its genomics-assisted breeding.