Genomic Tools for the Enhancement of Vegetable Crops: A Case in Eggplant
Dramatic advances in genomics during the last decades have led to a revolution in the field of vegetable crops breeding. Some vegetables, like tomato, have served as model crops in the application of genomic tools to plant breeding but other important crops, like eggplant (Solanum melongena), lagged behind. The advent of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies and the continuous decrease of the sequencing costs have allowed to develop genomic tools with a greatly benefit for no-model plants such as eggplant. In this review we present the currently available genomic resources in eggplant and discuss their interest for breeding. The first draft of eggplant genome sequence and the new upcoming improved assembly, as well as, the transcriptomes and RNA-based studies represent important genomic tools. The transcriptomes of cultivated eggplant and several wild relatives of eggplant are also available and have provided relevant information for the development of markers and understanding biological processes in eggplant. In addition, a historical overview of the eggplant genetic mapping studies, performed with different types of markers and experimental populations, provides a picture of the increase over time of the precision and resolution in the identification of candidate genes and QTLs for a wide range of stresses, and morpho-agronomic and domestication traits. Finally, we discuss how the development of new genetic and genomic tools in eggplant can pave the way for increasing the efficiency of eggplant breeding for developing improved varieties able to cope with the old and new challenges in horticultural production.
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