Invited Review

From Ancestors to Modern Cultivars: Tracing the Origin, Evolution, and Genetic Progress in Cucurbitaceae  

Xuehao Chen , Xiaohua Qi , Xuewen Xu
School of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, 225009, China
Author    Correspondence author
Molecular Plant Breeding, 2024, Vol. 15, No. 3   
Received: 20 Feb., 2024    Accepted: 27 Apr., 2024    Published: 15 May, 2024
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This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The Cucurbitaceae family, encompassing a wide array of economically significant species, has undergone extensive evolutionary diversification since its origin in the Late Cretaceous period. This systematic review synthesizes the current understanding of the genetic and evolutionary trajectories within the Cucurbitaceae, tracing the lineage from ancestral forms to modern cultivars. We integrate findings from whole-genome analyses, phylogenetic studies, and gene family evolution research to construct a comprehensive picture of the genetic progress in this family. The review highlights the whole-genome duplication event in the Cucurbita genus approximately 30 million years ago, which has led to a rapid turnover and neofunctionalization of protein-coding and long noncoding RNA genes, particularly in Cucurbita argyrosperma. Additionally, the evolution of Benincasa hispida is examined, revealing its unique phylogenetic position and significant gene loss from its common ancestor, alongside the conservation of the phenylalanine ammonia-lyase gene family across six Cucurbitaceae species. The phylogenetic relationships within the family are clarified, with an emphasis on the major clades and their geographical distributions, as well as the need for further ecological and morphological studies. This review provides valuable insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying the diversity and adaptation of Cucurbitaceae species, offering a foundation for future research and breeding programs.

Cucurbitaceae; Evolution; Genome duplication; Gene turnover; Neofunctionalization; Phylogenetics; Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase; Cucurbita argyrosperma; Benincasa hispida; Genetic diversity
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Related articles
. Cucurbitaceae
. Evolution
. Genome duplication
. Gene turnover
. Neofunctionalization
. Phylogenetics
. Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase
. Cucurbita argyrosperma
. Benincasa hispida
. Genetic diversity
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