Somatic variations led to the selection of acidic and acidless orange cultivars

Lun Wang, Yue Huang, Zi Ang Liu, Jiaxian He, Xiaolin Jiang, Fa He, Zhihao Lu, Shuizhi Yang, Peng Chen, Huiwen Yu, Bin Zeng, Lingjun Ke, Zongzhou Xie, Robert M. Larkin, Dong Jiang, Ray Ming, Edward S. Buckler, Xiuxin Deng, Qiang Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Somatic variations are a major source of genetic diversification in asexual plants, and underpin clonal evolution and the breeding of asexual crops. Sweet orange is a model species for studying somatic variation because it reproduces asexually through apomixis and is propagated asexually through grafting. To dissect the genomic basis of somatic variation, we de novo assembled a reference genome of sweet orange with an average of three gaps per chromosome and a N50 contig of 24.2 Mb, as well as six diploid genomes of somatic mutants of sweet oranges. We then sequenced 114 somatic mutants with an average genome coverage of 41×. Categorization of the somatic variations yielded insights into the single-nucleotide somatic mutations, structural variations and transposable element (TE) transpositions. We detected 877 TE insertions, and found TE insertions in the transporter or its regulatory genes associated with variation in fruit acidity. Comparative genomic analysis of sweet oranges from three diversity centres supported a dispersal from South China to the Mediterranean region and to the Americas. This study provides a global view on the somatic variations, the diversification and dispersal history of sweet orange and a set of candidate genes that will be useful for improving fruit taste and flavour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-965
Number of pages12
JournalNature plants
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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