An integrated genetic map based on four mapping populations and quantitative trait loci associated with economically important traits in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)
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Abstract Background Modern watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.) cultivars share a narrow genetic base due to many years of selection for desirable horticultural qualities. Wild subspecies within C. lanatus are important potential sources of novel alleles for watermelon breeding, but successful trait introgression into elite cultivars has had limited success. The application of marker assisted selection (MAS) in watermelon is yet to be realized, mainly due to the past lack of high quality genetic maps. Recently, a number of useful maps have become available, however these maps have few common markers, and were constructed using different marker sets, thus, making integration and comparative analysis among maps difficult. The objective of this research was to use single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) anchor markers to construct an integrated genetic map for C. lanatus. Results Under the framework of the high density genetic map, an integrated genetic map was constructed by merging data from four independent mapping experiments using a genetically diverse array of parental lines, which included three subspecies of watermelon. The 698 simple sequence repeat (SSR), 219 insertion-deletion (InDel), 36 structure variation (SV) and 386 SNP markers from the four maps were used to construct an integrated map. This integrated map contained 1339 markers, spanning 798 cM with an average marker interval of 0.6 cM. Fifty-eight previously reported quantitative trait loci (QTL) for 12 traits in these populations were also integrated into the map. In addition, new QTL identified for brix, fructose, glucose and sucrose were added. Some QTL associated with economically important traits detected in different genetic backgrounds mapped to similar genomic regions of the integrated map, suggesting that such QTL are responsible for the phenotypic variability observed in a broad array of watermelon germplasm. Conclusions The integrated map described herein enhances the utility of genomic tools over previous watermelon genetic maps. A large proportion of the markers in the integrated map are SSRs, InDels and SNPs, which are easily transferable across laboratories. Moreover, the populations used to construct the integrated map include all three watermelon subspecies, making this integrated map useful for the selection of breeding traits, identification of QTL, MAS, analysis of germplasm and commercial hybrid seed detection.