Haplotype-resolved genome assembly provides insights into evolutionary history of the tea plant Camellia sinensis

Xingtan Zhang, Shuai Chen, Longqing Shi, Daping Gong, Shengcheng Zhang, Qian Zhao, Dongliang Zhan, Liette Vasseur, Yibin Wang, Jiaxin Yu, Zhenyang Liao, Xindan Xu, Rui Qi, Wenling Wang, Yunran Ma, Pengjie Wang, Naixing Ye, Dongna Ma, Yan Shi, Haifeng WangXiaokai Ma, Xiangrui Kong, Jing Lin, Liufeng Wei, Yaying Ma, Ruoyu Li, Guiping Hu, Haifang He, Lin Zhang, Ray Ming, Gang Wang, Haibao Tang, Minsheng You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tea is an important global beverage crop and is largely clonally propagated. Despite previous studies on the species, its genetic and evolutionary history deserves further research. Here, we present a haplotype-resolved assembly of an Oolong tea cultivar, Tieguanyin. Analysis of allele-specific expression suggests a potential mechanism in response to mutation load during long-term clonal propagation. Population genomic analysis using 190 Camellia accessions uncovered independent evolutionary histories and parallel domestication in two widely cultivated varieties, var. sinensis and var. assamica. It also revealed extensive intra- and interspecific introgressions contributing to genetic diversity in modern cultivars. Strong signatures of selection were associated with biosynthetic and metabolic pathways that contribute to flavor characteristics as well as genes likely involved in the Green Revolution in the tea industry. Our results offer genetic and molecular insights into the evolutionary history of Camellia sinensis and provide genomic resources to further facilitate gene editing to enhance desirable traits in tea crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1250-1259
Number of pages10
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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