Gapless Genome of Azalea Reveals Genetic Basis for Interspecific Flower Color Divergence
Published:23 Feb.2024    Source:Hortic Res
Recently, Beijing Forestry University and Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences collaborated and published a study in Horticulture Research, reporting the high-quality gapless genome assembly of the yellow-flowered azalea species Rhododendron molle
By multi-omics analysis, the researchers compared the genomes and transcriptomes between R. molle and the red-flowered R. simsii, revealing the molecular mechanisms and key gene differences underlying their distinct flower colors. The results showed that LTR-RT families drove the formation of species-specific sequences between the two azaleas; carotenoids and flavonols are key pigments for yellow flower formation, while genes related to anthocyanin synthesis underwent significant pseudogenization in yellow flowers. 
This study provides a genetic basis for rapid flower color evolution in Rhododendron and can guide theoretical breeding for azalea flower colors.