A comprehensive RNA-Seq-based gene expression atlas of the summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) provides insights into fruit morphology and ripening mechanisms

Aliki Xanthopoulou, Javier Montero-Pau, Belén Picó, Panagiotis Boumpas, Eleni Tsaliki, Harry S. Paris, Athanasios Tsaftaris, Apostolos Kalivas, Ifigeneia Mellidou, Ioannis Ganopoulos
2021 BMC Genomics  
Background Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo: Cucurbitaceae) are a popular horticultural crop for which there is insufficient genomic and transcriptomic information. Gene expression atlases are crucial for the identification of genes expressed in different tissues at various plant developmental stages. Here, we present the first comprehensive gene expression atlas for a summer squash cultivar, including transcripts obtained from seeds, shoots, leaf stem, young and developed leaves, male and female
more » ... s, male and female flowers, fruits of seven developmental stages, as well as primary and lateral roots. Results In total, 27,868 genes and 2352 novel transcripts were annotated from these 16 tissues, with over 18,000 genes common to all tissue groups. Of these, 3812 were identified as housekeeping genes, half of which assigned to known gene ontologies. Flowers, seeds, and young fruits had the largest number of specific genes, whilst intermediate-age fruits the fewest. There also were genes that were differentially expressed in the various tissues, the male flower being the tissue with the most differentially expressed genes in pair-wise comparisons with the remaining tissues, and the leaf stem the least. The largest expression change during fruit development was early on, from female flower to fruit two days after pollination. A weighted correlation network analysis performed on the global gene expression dataset assigned 25,413 genes to 24 coexpression groups, and some of these groups exhibited strong tissue specificity. Conclusions These findings enrich our understanding about the transcriptomic events associated with summer squash development and ripening. This comprehensive gene expression atlas is expected not only to provide a global view of gene expression patterns in all major tissues in C. pepo but to also serve as a valuable resource for functional genomics and gene discovery in Cucurbitaceae.
doi:10.1186/s12864-021-07683-2 pmid:33980145 fatcat:ilhjn6vhbnh6bjeavdr6bdcxku