Shaogui Guo, Shengjie Zhao, Honghe Sun, Xin Wang, Shan Wu, Tao Lin,Yi Ren, Lei Gao, Yun Deng, Jie Zhang, Xuqiang Lu, Haiying Zhang, Jianli Shang, Guoyi Gong,Changlong Wen, Nan He, Shouwei Tian, Maoying Li, Junpu Liu, Yanping Wang, Yingchun Zhu,Robert Jarret, Amnon Levi, Xingping Zhang, Sanwen Huang, Zhangjun Fei, Wenge Liu,and Yong Xu
Fruit characteristics of sweet watermelon are largely the result of human selection. Here we report an improved watermelon reference genome and whole-genome resequencing of 414 accessions representing all extant species in the Citrullus genus. Population genomic analyses reveal the evolutionary history of Citrullus, suggesting independent evolutions in Citrullus amarus and the lineage containing Citrullus lanatus and Citrullus mucosospermus. Our findings indicate that different loci affecting watermelon fruit size have been under selection during speciation, domestication and improvement. A non-bitter allele, arising in the progenitor of sweet watermelon, is largely fixed in C. lanatus. Selection for flesh sweetness started in the progenitor of C. lanatus and continues through modern breeding on loci controlling raffinose catabolism and sugar transport. Fruit flesh coloration and sugar accumulation might have co-evolved through shared genetic components including a sugar transporter gene. This study provides valuable genomic resources and sheds light on watermelon speciation and breeding history.