Lychee is an exotic tropical fruit with a distinct flavor. The genome of cultivar ‘Feizixiao’ was assembled into 15 pseudochromosomes, totaling ~470 Mb. High heterozygosity (2.27%) resulted in two complete haplotypic assemblies. A total of 13,517 allelic genes (42.4%) were differentially expressed in diverse tissues. Analyses of 72 resequenced lychee accessions revealed two independent domestication events. The extremely early maturing cultivars preferentially aligned to one haplotype were domesticated from a wild population in Yunnan, whereas the late-maturing cultivars that mapped mostly to the second haplotype were domesticated independently from a wild population in Hainan. Early maturing cultivars were probably developed in Guangdong via hybridization between extremely early maturing cultivar and late-maturing cultivar individuals. Variable deletions of a 3.7 kb region encompassed by a pair of CONSTANS-like genes probably regulate fruit maturation differences among lychee cultivars. These genomic resources provide insights into the natural history of lychee domestication and will accelerate the improvement of lychee and related crops.
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