The publication of the pear genome sequence has greatly contributed to the identification of genes and markers associated with important economic traits. With the availability of new genomic tools and genetic approaches, a wide variety of valuable technologies and resources have been successfully developed in pear, including genetic transformation, genome sequencing, molecular markers, genetic and physical mapping and comparative genomic analyses. Moreover, the availability of tools and data resources offers new opportunities for the efficient and robust discovery of genes that control desirable traits related to fruit quality, productivity and post-harvest shelf life, as well as only traits that significantly shorten the pear selection cycle.
Recent work by scientists from Nanjing Agricultural University in China and other teams, published in Horticultural research to January 5, highlights major advances in pear genetics, genomics, and breeding through the availability of whole genome sequences, including whole genome resequencing efforts and domestication and evolutionary studies pear.
First, the researchers provided an overview of the genome sequences of Asian and European pears, which have a base chromosome number of 17 (2n=34). Different pear species have markedly different genome sizes, ranging from 500 to 650 Mb, and possess large numbers of repeats and transposable elements (TEs), as well as high levels of heterozygosity. The team examined pear domestication and breeding, genome-wide variation, and genetic linkage maps, including the construction and mapping of trait-linked loci. As genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are an efficient approach to explore genetic architecture at the genome level and have been widely used to identify genetic variants associated with human diseases, GWAS in pear have also been discussed. Marker-assisted selection (MAS), marker-assisted selection (MAB), genomic selection (GS) and the use of multi-omics to identify genes linked to important pear traits have been demonstrated. Finally, the researchers pointed out that some specific topics should be prioritized in future research; these include genome development, resequencing and phylogenetic studies, whole genome association studies, integrated omics technologies, and gene editing.
“This pear genome roadmap will serve as a useful guide for continuing breeding efforts to develop new, high-quality, well-adapted pear cultivars,” the researchers said. “And it’s also key to solving the problems of pears’ response to climate change, as well as ever-changing consumer demands and preferences.”
Jiaming Li 1, Mingyue Zhang 2, Xiaolong Li 1, Awais Khan 3, Satish Kumar 4, Andrew Charles Allan 5, Kui Lin-Wang 5, Richard Victor Espley 5, Caihong Wang 6, Runze Wang 1, Cheng Xue 2, Gaifang Yao 7, Mengfan Qin 1, Manyi Sun 1, Richard Tegtmeier 3, Hainan Liu 1, Weilin Wei 1, Meiling Ming 1, Shaoling Zhang 1, Kejiao Zhao 1, Bobo Song 1, Jiangping Ni 1, Jianping An 2, Schuyler S. Korban 8 and June Wu 1
1 Center of Pear Engineering Technology Research, State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of Horticulture Science and Engineering, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai-An, Shandong 271018, China
3 Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology Section, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456, USA
4 Hawke’s Bay Research Centre, The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited, Havelock North 4157, New Zealand
5 The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
6 College of Horticulture, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao, 266109, China
7 School of Food and Biological Engineering, Hefei University of Technology, 230009 Hefei, China
8 Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
About Dr. Jun Wu and Dr. Schuyler S. Korban
Dr. Jun Wu is a professor at the State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Improvement at Nanjing Agricultural University. She studies the extraction and use of pear elite genetic resources. She is also interested in genomics and genetic variation, molecular breeding technology and pear germplasm innovation.
Dr. Schuyler S. Korban is a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include adding new high-value traits to plants for biopharmaceuticals; improve food quality and food and food safety by reducing chemical sprays; improve the composition of healthy components in various food crops; and explore the use of plants to remove pollutants from soils.
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Pear genetics: recent advances, new perspectives and a roadmap for the future
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