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Watermelon genome sequence


Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai (2n=2x=22), belongs to the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. It is an important specialty crop accounting for 7% of the world area devoted to vegetable crops; and with annual worldwide production of ~90 million tons (2000 - 2009). Over 83% of watermelons are produced in Asia with China being the leading producer, accounting for approx. 67% of the total world production. Same as many other cucurbit crops, knowledge and resources of watermelon genetics and genomics are currently very limited. To accelerate watermelon breeding and understanding of its biology, the International Watermelon Genomics Initiative (IWGI) was formed in 2008 with one of its main goals being sequencing the whole genome of watermelon. The initiative is led by the National Engineering Research Center for Vegetables (NERCV), China and includes several other major participants: Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI-Shenzhen), Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, National Research Institute of Agronomy (INRA) Center in Clermont-Ferrand (France), Institute of Vegetables and Flowers of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IVF-CAAS), Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Syngenta seed company, and Rijk Zwaan seed company.

Watermelon Genome

Watermelon has eleven chromosomes and a haploid genome of ~425 Mb. Here, we have sequenced and assembled the genome of the domestic watermelon 97103, an elite Chinese line of Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus. A total of 46.18 Gb high-quality base pairs have been generated by Illumima Solexa Sequencing technology, which is about 107.4 fold coverage of the genome. The assembled N50 contig and scaffold sizes are 26,381 and 2,378,183 bp, respectively. Using a high resolution genetic map, we anchored 93.5% of the assembled sequence onto the eleven chromosomes, among which ~65% were oriented. A total of 23,440 genes were predicted in the current watermelon genome assembly.