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Yiqun Weng

Cucumis metuliferus E. Mey. ex Naud (African horned cucumber, horned melon) is endemic to Africa and is a relative of cultivated cucumber (C. sativus L.) and melon (C. melo L.). In the present study, genetic variation among the USDA C. metuliferus collection was evaluated with microsatellite [simple sequence repeat (SSR)] markers derived from C. sativus genomic DNA sequences. Of 564 cucumber SSRs tested, 51.8% were able to produce polymerase chain reaction amplicons in C. metuliferus suggesting a high degree of DNA sequence homology between the two species. Forty-two cross-species SSRs were used to assess genetic variation among 36 C. metuliferus accessions. Genetic diversity among these accessions was relatively low. Of the 42 SSRs, 12 were monomorphic, and each marker, on average, was able to detect 3.3 alleles among the 36 accessions. Neighbor-joining clustering analysis revealed a positive relationship between genetic divergence and geographic distances among these accessions. Genetic distance of C. metuliferus to melon is smaller than that of C. metuliferus to cucumber.

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Yiqun Weng, Shanna Johnson, Jack E. Staub and Sanwen Huang

A recombinant inbred line (RIL) population derived from two cultivated cucumber (Cucumis sativus var. sativus L., 2n = 2x = 14) lines, Gy7 (synonym G421) and H-19, was previously used to map yield and fruit quality components. However, the map consisted mainly of dominant markers (i.e., random amplified polymorphic DNAs or amplified fragment length polymorphisms) limiting its use in plant improvement and map-based gene cloning. We report here a moderately saturated genetic map derived from this RIL population that incorporates codominant microsatellite [simple sequence repeat (SSR)] markers and two architectural traits, little leaf (ll) and determinate (de), growth habit. Of 821 cucumber genomic SSR primer pairs evaluated for map construction, 140 (17.0%) were polymorphic between the mapping parents. In combination with 42 previously mapped sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) and SSR makers, these polymorphic markers were used to construct a linkage map with 46 RILs and 176 mapped loci spanning ≈400 cM across seven linkage groups (LG). The numbers of loci mapped on LG 1 through 7 were 11, 6, 35, 18, 46, 45, and 15, respectively. The ll locus was flanked by SSR02355 and SSR03940 (4.2 and 3.6 cM from ll, respectively), and de was flanked by CSWCTT14b and SSR13251 (1.4 and 4.2 cM from the de, respectively). The SSR markers linked with the de and ll genes were mapped to Chromosome 6. No recombination suppression was detected among the mapped loci examined. This Gy7 × H-19 RIL-based genetic map shared 94 marker loci with a previously reported RIL-based linkage map derived from a wide cross between C. sativus var. sativus line Gy14 and C. sativus var. hardwickii Alef. R. PI 183967. Comparative mapping supported previous findings that genomic differences (likely chromosomal rearrangements) exist between Gy14 and PI 183967.

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Amnon Levi, Judy A. Thies, Patrick W. Wechter, Mark Farnham, Yiqun Weng and Richard Hassell

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Haiying Zhang, Jianguang Fan, Shaogui Guo, Yi Ren, Guoyi Gong, Jie Zhang, Yiqun Weng, Angela Davis and Yong Xu

Watermelon belongs to the genus Citrullus. There have been continuing interests in breeding of watermelon for economic benefits, but information on the scope and utilization of genetic variations in Citrullus is still limited. The present study was conducted in 2012–13, to evaluate the genetic diversity and population structure of the 1197 line watermelon collection maintained by the Beijing Vegetable Research Center (BVRC), which belongs to seven Citrullus species including Citrullus naudinianus, Citrullus colocynthis, Citrullus rehmii, Citrullus ecirrhosus, Citrullus amarus, Citrullus mucosospermus, and Cirullus lanatus subsp. vulgaris. Twenty-three highly informative microsatellite markers evenly distributed in the watermelon genome were used to assess genetic diversity in this collection. The markers detected on an average of 6.05 alleles per locus with the average value of polymorphism information content (PIC) at 0.49. A high level of gene diversity [Nei’s gene diversity index (Nei) = 0.56] and a low observed heterozygosity (H o = 0.10) were revealed within the collection. Structure analysis grouped the 1197 accessions into two main populations (Pop I and Pop II) and an admixture group. Pop I contained 450 accessions from C. lanatus subsp. vulgaris (446) and C. mucosospermus (4). Pop II comprised 465 accessions, 379 of which belonged to C. lanatus subsp. vulgaris and 86 to C. naudinianus (3), C. ecirrhosus (2), C. rehmii (2), C. colocynthis (11), C. amarus (58), and C. mucosospermus (10). The remaining 282 accessions were classified as an admixture group. The two main populations were further subdivided into four subgroups. The groupings were consistent with the estimation of F statistics (F st) and Nei’s genetic distances in collections. We confirmed the distinct genetic backgrounds between American and East Asian ecotypes. Subsequently, we defined a core set consisting of 130 accessions including 47 from Pop I, 68 from Pop II, and 15 from the Admixture group. This core set was able to capture all 133 alleles detected by 23 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) in 1197 accessions. These results will facilitate efficient use of genetic variations in Citrullus in watermelon breeding and help optimization of accessions in genomewide association studies.