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Article|01 Aug 2021|OPEN
An ancient whole-genome duplication event and its contribution to flavor compounds in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis)
Ya Wang1, Yuanchun Ma1, Taikui Zhang2, Pengchuan Sun3, Meifang Lan4, Fang Li1, Wanping Fang1, & Fei Chen1,
1College of Horticulture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
2College of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
3Key Laboratory of Bio-Resource and Eco-Environment of Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065, China
4College of Life Sciences, North China University of Science and Technology, Tangshan 063099, China

Horticulture Research 8,
Article number: 176 (2021)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2021.176
Views: 144

Received: 18 Jan 2021
Revised: 12 May 2021
Accepted: 20 May 2021
Published online: 01 Aug 2021

Abstract

Tea, coffee, and cocoa are the three most popular nonalcoholic beverages in the world and have extremely high economic and cultural value. The genomes of four tea plant varieties have recently been sequenced, but there is some debate regarding the characterization of a whole-genome duplication (WGD) event in tea plants. Whether the WGD in the tea plant is shared with other plants in order Ericales and how it contributed to tea plant evolution remained unanswered. Here we re-analyzed the tea plant genome and provided evidence that tea experienced only WGD event after the core-eudicot whole-genome triplication (WGT) event. This WGD was shared by the Polemonioids-Primuloids-Core Ericales (PPC) sections, encompassing at least 17 families in the order Ericales. In addition, our study identified eight pairs of duplicated genes in the catechins biosynthesis pathway, four pairs of duplicated genes in the theanine biosynthesis pathway, and one pair of genes in the caffeine biosynthesis pathway, which were expanded and retained following this WGD. Nearly all these gene pairs were expressed in tea plants, implying the contribution of the WGD. This study shows that in addition to the role of the recent tandem gene duplication in the accumulation of tea flavor-related genes, the WGD may have been another main factor driving the evolution of tea flavor.