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Potato Pangenome Shows Transposable Elements Responsible for Genetic Diversity

A team of researchers from McGill University and elsewhere reports a super pan-genome for Petota in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Petota is a subgroup of the potato family Solanaceae that includes more than 100 wild and domesticated species, which can have five copies of its genome. The researchers analyzed 296 whole-genome samples from 60 wild and domestic species with varying ploidy levels. With this, they created a core genome composed of genes present in between 97 percent to 100 percent of the samples, which they found was enriched for genes involved in fundamental cellular processes. They also developed a cloud genome of genes in 3 percent or fewer samples. These genes, they saw, were enriched for transposable elements. The researchers subsequently compared the genes present or absent in wild versus domesticated samples to find that domestication has led to improved photosynthesis as well as changes in metabolism and development. "The Petota super pangenome provides a foundation for building tools to further investigate and apply TEs to climate-smart potato breeding," the authors write.