The genome of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) provides insights into bast fibre and leaf shape biogenesis

Liwu Zhang, Yi Xu, Xingtan Zhang, Xiaokai Ma, Lilan Zhang, Zhenyang Liao, Qing Zhang, Xuebei Wan, Yan Cheng, Jisen Zhang, Dongxu Li, Liemei Zhang, Jiantang Xu, Aifen Tao, Lihui Lin, Pingping Fang, Shuai Chen, Rui Qi, Xiuming Xu, Jianmin QiRay Ming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kenaf is an annual crop that is widely cultivated as a source of bast (phloem) fibres, the phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated farmlands and textile-relevant compounds. Leaf shape played a unique role in kenaf improvement, due to the inheritance as a single locus and the association with fibre development in typical lobed-leaf varieties. Here we report a high-quality genome assembly and annotation for var. ‘Fuhong 952’ with 1078 Mbp genome and 66 004 protein-coding genes integrating single-molecule real-time sequencing, a high-density genetic map and high-throughput chromosome conformation capture techniques. Gene mapping assists the identification of a homeobox transcription factor LATE MERISTEM IDENTITY 1 (HcLMI1) gene controlling lobed-leaf. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of HcLMI1 in a lobed-leaf variety was critical to induce round (entire)-like leaf formation. Candidate genes involved in cell wall formation were found in quantitative trait loci (QTL) for fibre yield and quality-related traits. Comparative genomic and transcriptome analyses revealed key genes involved in bast fibre formation, among which there are twice as many cellulose synthase A (CesA) genes due to a recent whole-genome duplication after divergence from Gossypium. Population genomic analysis showed two recent population bottlenecks in kenaf, suggesting domestication and improvement process have led to an increase in fibre biogenesis and yield. This chromosome-scale genome provides an important framework and toolkit for sequence-directed genetic improvement of fibre crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1796-1809
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.)
  • bast fibre
  • domestication
  • genome
  • leaf shape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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