Genomes of the Banyan Tree and Pollinator Wasp Provide Insights into Fig-Wasp Coevolution

Xingtan Zhang, Gang Wang, Shengcheng Zhang, Shuai Chen, Yibin Wang, Ping Wen, Xiaokai Ma, Yan Shi, Rui Qi, Yang Yang, Zhenyang Liao, Jing Lin, Jishan Lin, Xiuming Xu, Xuequn Chen, Xindan Xu, Fang Deng, Lihua Zhao, Yi lun Lee, Rong WangXiao Yong Chen, Yann rong Lin, Jisen Zhang, Haibao Tang, Jin Chen, Ray Ming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Banyan trees are distinguished by their extraordinary aerial roots. The Ficus genus includes species that have evolved a species-specific mutualism system with wasp pollinators. We sequenced genomes of the Chinese banyan tree, F. microcarpa, and a species lacking aerial roots, F. hispida, and one wasp genome coevolving with F. microcarpa, Eupristina verticillata. Comparative analysis of the two Ficus genomes revealed dynamic karyotype variation associated with adaptive evolution. Copy number expansion of auxin-related genes from duplications and elevated auxin production are associated with aerial root development in F. microcarpa. A male-specific AGAMOUS paralog, FhAG2, was identified as a candidate gene for sex determination in F. hispida. Population genomic analyses of Ficus species revealed genomic signatures of morphological and physiological coadaptation with their pollinators involving terpenoid- and benzenoid-derived compounds. These three genomes offer insights into and genomic resources for investigating the geneses of aerial roots, monoecy and dioecy, and codiversification in a symbiotic system. Comparative analyses of two Ficus genomes with and without aerial roots reveal insights into the genomic basis of aerial root formation and population genomic analyses of Ficus species alongside the genome of a coevolving wasp pollinator enhance our understanding of their species-specific mutualism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-889.e17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 12 2020


  • aerial root
  • volatile organic compound
  • sex determination
  • population genomics
  • auxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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