Chromosome-level genome assembly of Rorippa aquatica revealed its allotetraploid origin and mechanisms of heterophylly upon submergence

Sakamoto T, Ikeamtsu S, Nakayama H, Mandáková T, Gohari G, Sakamoto T, Li G, Hou H, Matsunaga S, Lysak MA, Kimura S

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Abstract

The ability to respond to environmental variability is essential for living systems, especially to sessile organisms such as plants. The amphibious plant Rorippa aquatica exhibits a drastic type of phenotypic plasticity known as heterophylly, a phenomenon where leaf form is altered in response to the surrounding environment. Although heterophylly has been studied in various plant species, its molecular mechanism has not been fully elucidated. To establish the genetic basis and analyze the evolutionary processes responsible for heterophylly, we assembled the chromosome-level genome of R. aquatica by combining data from Illumina short-read sequencing, PacBio long-read sequencing, and High-throughput Chromosome Conformation Capture (Hi-C) sequencing technologies. Fine-scale comparative chromosome painting and chromosomal genomics revealed that allopolyploidization and subsequent post-polyploid descending dysploidy occurred during R. aquatica speciation. The genomic information above was the basis for the transcriptome analyses to examine the mechanisms involved in heterophylly, especially in response to the submerged condition, which uncovered that the ethylene and blue light signaling pathways participate in regulating heterophylly under submerged conditions. The assembled R. aquatica reference genome provides novel insights into the molecular mechanisms and evolution of heterophylly.

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