Clpf encodes pentatricopeptide repeat protein (PPR5) and regulates pink flesh color in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.)

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Theor Appl Genet. 2024 May 10;137(6):126. doi: 10.1007/s00122-024-04619-8.

ABSTRACT

The gene controlling pink flesh in watermelon was finely mapped to a 55.26-kb region on chromosome 6. The prime candidate gene, Cla97C06G122120 (ClPPR5), was identified through forward genetics. Carotenoids offer numerous health benefits; while, they cannot be synthesized by the human body. Watermelon stands out as one of the richest sources of carotenoids. In this study, genetic generations derived from parental lines W15-059 (red flesh) and JQ13-3 (pink flesh) revealed the presence of the recessive gene Clpf responsible for the pink flesh (pf) trait in watermelon. Comparative analysis of pigment components and microstructure indicated that the disparity in flesh color between the parental lines primarily stemmed from variations in lycopene content, as well as differences in chromoplast number and size. Subsequent bulk segregant analysis (BSA-seq) and genetic mapping successfully narrowed down the Clpf locus to a 55.26-kb region on chromosome 6, harboring two candidate genes. Through sequence comparison and gene expression analysis, Cla97C06G122120 (annotated as a pentatricopeptide repeat, PPR) was predicted as the prime candidate gene related to pink flesh trait. To further investigate the role of the PPR gene, its homologous gene in tomato was silenced using a virus-induced system. The resulting silenced fruit lines displayed diminished carotenoid accumulation compared with the wild-type, indicating the potential regulatory function of the PPR gene in pigment accumulation. This study significantly contributes to our understanding of the forward genetics underlying watermelon flesh traits, particularly in relation to carotenoid accumulation. The findings lay essential groundwork for elucidating mechanisms governing pigment synthesis and deposition in watermelon flesh, thereby providing valuable insights for future breeding strategies aimed at enhancing fruit quality and nutritional value.

PMID:38727833 | DOI:10.1007/s00122-024-04619-8