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RNA sequencing provides insights into the evolution of lettuce and the regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis


Different horticultural types of lettuce exhibit tremendous morphological variation. However, the molecular basis for domestication and divergence among the different horticultural types of lettuce remains unknown. Here, we report the RNA sequencing of 240 lettuce accessions sampled from the major horticultural types and wild relatives, generating 1.1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Demographic modeling indicates that there was a single domestication event for lettuce. We identify a list of regions as putative selective sweeps that occurred during domestication and divergence, respectively. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identify 5311 expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) regulating the expression of 4105 genes, including nine eQTLs regulating genes associated with flavonoid biosynthesis. GWAS for leaf color detects six candidate loci responsible for the variation of anthocyanins in lettuce leaves. Our study provides a comprehensive understanding of the domestication and the accumulation of anthocyanins in lettuce, and will facilitate the breeding of cultivars with improved nutritional value.

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