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Rapid identification of lettuce seed germination mutants by bulked segregant analysis and whole genome sequencing.

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Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) seeds exhibit thermoinhibition, or failure to complete germination when imbibed at warm temperatures. Chemical mutagenesis was employed to develop lettuce lines that exhibit germination thermotolerance. Two independent thermotolerant lettuce seed mutant lines, TG01 and TG10, were generated through ethyl methanesulfonate mutagenesis. Genetic and physiological analyses indicated that these two mutations were allelic and recessive. To identify the causal gene(s), we applied bulked segregant analysis by whole genome sequencing. For each mutant, bulked DNA samples of segregating thermotolerant (mutant) seeds were sequenced and analyzed for homozygous single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Two independent candidate mutations were identified at different physical positions in the zeaxanthin epoxidase gene (ABSCISIC ACID DEFICIENT 1/ZEAXANTHIN EPOXIDASE, or ABA1/ZEP) in TG01 and TG10. The mutation in TG01 caused an amino acid replacement, whereas the mutation in TG10 resulted in alternative mRNA splicing. Endogenous abscisic acid contents were reduced in both mutants, and expression of the ABA1 gene from wild-type lettuce under its own promoter fully complemented the TG01 mutant. Conventional genetic mapping confirmed that the causal mutations were located near the ZEP/ABA1 gene, but the bulked segregant whole genome sequencing approach more efficiently identified the specific gene responsible for the phenotype.

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