Combined genomic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic analyses provide insights into chayote (Sechium edule) evolution and fruit development

Chayote (Sechium edule) is an agricultural crop in the Cucurbitaceae family that is rich in bioactive components. To enhance genetic research on chayote, we used Nanopore third-generation sequencing combined with Hi–C data to assemble a draft chayote genome. A chromosome-level assembly anchored on 14 chromosomes (N50 contig and scaffold sizes of 8.40 and 46.56 Mb, respectively) estimated the genome size as 606.42 Mb, which is large for the Cucurbitaceae, with 65.94% (401.08 Mb) of the genome comprising repetitive sequences; 28,237 protein-coding genes were predicted.

Comparative genome analysis indicated that chayote and snake gourd diverged from sponge gourd and that a whole-genome duplication (WGD) event occurred in chayote at 25 ± 4 Mya. Transcriptional and metabolic analysis revealed genes involved in fruit texture, pigment, flavor, flavonoids, antioxidants, and plant hormones during chayote fruit development. The analysis of the genome, transcriptome, and metabolome provides insights into chayote evolution and lays the groundwork for future research on fruit and tuber development and genetic improvements in chayote.

Authors: Anzhen Fu, Qing Wang, Jianlou Mu, Lili Ma, Changlong Wen, Xiaoyan Zhao, Lipu Gao, Jian Li, Kai Shi, Yunxiang Wang, Xuechuan Zhang, Xuewen Zhang, Fengling Wang, Donald Grierson, Jinhua Zuo