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1.  Determination of the melon chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences reveals that the largest reported mitochondrial genome in plants contains a significant amount of DNA having a nuclear origin 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:424.
The melon belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose economic importance among vegetable crops is second only to Solanaceae. The melon has a small genome size (454 Mb), which makes it suitable for molecular and genetic studies. Despite similar nuclear and chloroplast genome sizes, cucurbits show great variation when their mitochondrial genomes are compared. The melon possesses the largest plant mitochondrial genome, as much as eight times larger than that of other cucurbits.
The nucleotide sequences of the melon chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes were determined. The chloroplast genome (156,017 bp) included 132 genes, with 98 single-copy genes dispersed between the small (SSC) and large (LSC) single-copy regions and 17 duplicated genes in the inverted repeat regions (IRa and IRb). A comparison of the cucumber and melon chloroplast genomes showed differences in only approximately 5% of nucleotides, mainly due to short indels and SNPs. Additionally, 2.74 Mb of mitochondrial sequence, accounting for 95% of the estimated mitochondrial genome size, were assembled into five scaffolds and four additional unscaffolded contigs. An 84% of the mitochondrial genome is contained in a single scaffold. The gene-coding region accounted for 1.7% (45,926 bp) of the total sequence, including 51 protein-coding genes, 4 conserved ORFs, 3 rRNA genes and 24 tRNA genes. Despite the differences observed in the mitochondrial genome sizes of cucurbit species, Citrullus lanatus (379 kb), Cucurbita pepo (983 kb) and Cucumis melo (2,740 kb) share 120 kb of sequence, including the predicted protein-coding regions. Nevertheless, melon contained a high number of repetitive sequences and a high content of DNA of nuclear origin, which represented 42% and 47% of the total sequence, respectively.
Whereas the size and gene organisation of chloroplast genomes are similar among the cucurbit species, mitochondrial genomes show a wide variety of sizes, with a non-conserved structure both in gene number and organisation, as well as in the features of the noncoding DNA. The transfer of nuclear DNA to the melon mitochondrial genome and the high proportion of repetitive DNA appear to explain the size of the largest mitochondrial genome reported so far.
PMCID: PMC3175227  PMID: 21854637
2.  Syntenic relationships between cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and melon (C. melo L.) chromosomes as revealed by comparative genetic mapping 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:396.
Cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. (2n = 2 × = 14) and melon, C. melo L. (2n = 2 × = 24) are two important vegetable species in the genus Cucumis (family Cucurbitaceae). Both species have an Asian origin that diverged approximately nine million years ago. Cucumber is believed to have evolved from melon through chromosome fusion, but the details of this process are largely unknown. In this study, comparative genetic mapping between cucumber and melon was conducted to examine syntenic relationships of their chromosomes.
Using two melon mapping populations, 154 and 127 cucumber SSR markers were added onto previously reported F2- and RIL-based genetic maps, respectively. A consensus melon linkage map was developed through map integration, which contained 401 co-dominant markers in 12 linkage groups including 199 markers derived from the cucumber genome. Syntenic relationships between melon and cucumber chromosomes were inferred based on associations between markers on the consensus melon map and cucumber draft genome scaffolds. It was determined that cucumber Chromosome 7 was syntenic to melon Chromosome I. Cucumber Chromosomes 2 and 6 each contained genomic regions that were syntenic with melon chromosomes III+V+XI and III+VIII+XI, respectively. Likewise, cucumber Chromosomes 1, 3, 4, and 5 each was syntenic with genomic regions of two melon chromosomes previously designated as II+XII, IV+VI, VII+VIII, and IX+X, respectively. However, the marker orders in several syntenic blocks on these consensus linkage maps were not co-linear suggesting that more complicated structural changes beyond simple chromosome fusion events have occurred during the evolution of cucumber.
Comparative mapping conducted herein supported the hypothesis that cucumber chromosomes may be the result of chromosome fusion from a 24-chromosome progenitor species. Except for a possible inversion, cucumber Chromosome 7 has largely remained intact in the past nine million years since its divergence from melon. Meanwhile, many structural changes may have occurred during the evolution of the remaining six cucumber chromosomes. Further characterization of the genomic nature of Cucumis species closely related to cucumber and melon might provide a better understanding of the evolutionary history leading to modern cucumber.
PMCID: PMC3199783  PMID: 21816110
Cucumber; Melon; Cucumis; Microsatellite; Comparative mapping; Chromosome evolution
3.  Analysis of the melon (Cucumis melo) small RNAome by high-throughput pyrosequencing 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:393.
Melon (Cucumis melo L.) is a commercially important fruit crop that is cultivated worldwide. The melon research community has recently benefited from the determination of a complete draft genome sequence and the development of associated genomic tools, which have allowed us to focus on small RNAs (sRNAs). These are short, non-coding RNAs 21-24 nucleotides in length with diverse physiological roles. In plants, they regulate gene expression and heterochromatin assembly, and control protection against virus infection. Much remains to be learned about the role of sRNAs in melon.
We constructed 10 sRNA libraries from two stages of developing ovaries, fruits and photosynthetic cotyledons infected with viruses, and carried out high-throughput pyrosequencing. We catalogued and analysed the melon sRNAs, resulting in the identification of 26 known miRNA families (many conserved with other species), the prediction of 84 melon-specific miRNA candidates, the identification of trans-acting siRNAs, and the identification of chloroplast, mitochondrion and transposon-derived sRNAs. In silico analysis revealed more than 400 potential targets for the conserved and novel miRNAs.
We have discovered and analysed a large number of conserved and melon-specific sRNAs, including miRNAs and their potential target genes. This provides insight into the composition and function of the melon small RNAome, and paves the way towards an understanding of sRNA-mediated processes that regulate melon fruit development and melon-virus interactions.
PMCID: PMC3163571  PMID: 21812964
4.  Analysis of expressed sequence tags generated from full-length enriched cDNA libraries of melon 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:252.
Melon (Cucumis melo), an economically important vegetable crop, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family which includes several other important crops such as watermelon, cucumber, and pumpkin. It has served as a model system for sex determination and vascular biology studies. However, genomic resources currently available for melon are limited.
We constructed eleven full-length enriched and four standard cDNA libraries from fruits, flowers, leaves, roots, cotyledons, and calluses of four different melon genotypes, and generated 71,577 and 22,179 ESTs from full-length enriched and standard cDNA libraries, respectively. These ESTs, together with ~35,000 ESTs available in public domains, were assembled into 24,444 unigenes, which were extensively annotated by comparing their sequences to different protein and functional domain databases, assigning them Gene Ontology (GO) terms, and mapping them onto metabolic pathways. Comparative analysis of melon unigenes and other plant genomes revealed that 75% to 85% of melon unigenes had homologs in other dicot plants, while approximately 70% had homologs in monocot plants. The analysis also identified 6,972 gene families that were conserved across dicot and monocot plants, and 181, 1,192, and 220 gene families specific to fleshy fruit-bearing plants, the Cucurbitaceae family, and melon, respectively. Digital expression analysis identified a total of 175 tissue-specific genes, which provides a valuable gene sequence resource for future genomics and functional studies. Furthermore, we identified 4,068 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and 3,073 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the melon EST collection. Finally, we obtained a total of 1,382 melon full-length transcripts through the analysis of full-length enriched cDNA clones that were sequenced from both ends. Analysis of these full-length transcripts indicated that sizes of melon 5' and 3' UTRs were similar to those of tomato, but longer than many other dicot plants. Codon usages of melon full-length transcripts were largely similar to those of Arabidopsis coding sequences.
The collection of melon ESTs generated from full-length enriched and standard cDNA libraries is expected to play significant roles in annotating the melon genome. The ESTs and associated analysis results will be useful resources for gene discovery, functional analysis, marker-assisted breeding of melon and closely related species, comparative genomic studies and for gaining insights into gene expression patterns.
PMCID: PMC3118787  PMID: 21599934
5.  Genome-wide BAC-end sequencing of Cucumis melo using two BAC libraries 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:618.
Although melon (Cucumis melo L.) is an economically important fruit crop, no genome-wide sequence information is openly available at the current time. We therefore sequenced BAC-ends representing a total of 33,024 clones, half of them from a previously described melon BAC library generated with restriction endonucleases and the remainder from a new random-shear BAC library.
We generated a total of 47,140 high-quality BAC-end sequences (BES), 91.7% of which were paired-BES. Both libraries were assembled independently and then cross-assembled to obtain a final set of 33,372 non-redundant, high-quality sequences. These were grouped into 6,411 contigs (4.5 Mb) and 26,961 non-assembled BES (14.4 Mb), representing ~4.2% of the melon genome. The sequences were used to screen genomic databases, identifying 7,198 simple sequence repeats (corresponding to one microsatellite every 2.6 kb) and 2,484 additional repeats of which 95.9% represented transposable elements. The sequences were also used to screen expressed sequence tag (EST) databases, revealing 11,372 BES that were homologous to ESTs. This suggests that ~30% of the melon genome consists of coding DNA. We observed regions of microsynteny between melon paired-BES and six other dicotyledonous plant genomes.
The analysis of nearly 50,000 BES from two complementary genomic libraries covered ~4.2% of the melon genome, providing insight into properties such as microsatellite and transposable element distribution, and the percentage of coding DNA. The observed synteny between melon paired-BES and six other plant genomes showed that useful comparative genomic data can be derived through large scale BAC-end sequencing by anchoring a small proportion of the melon genome to other sequenced genomes.
PMCID: PMC3091759  PMID: 21054843
6.  Generation of a BAC-based physical map of the melon genome 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:339.
Cucumis melo (melon) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose economic importance among horticulture crops is second only to Solanaceae. Melon has high intra-specific genetic variation, morphologic diversity and a small genome size (450 Mb), which make this species suitable for a great variety of molecular and genetic studies that can lead to the development of tools for breeding varieties of the species. A number of genetic and genomic resources have already been developed, such as several genetic maps and BAC genomic libraries. These tools are essential for the construction of a physical map, a valuable resource for map-based cloning, comparative genomics and assembly of whole genome sequencing data. However, no physical map of any Cucurbitaceae has yet been developed. A project has recently been started to sequence the complete melon genome following a whole-genome shotgun strategy, which makes use of massive sequencing data. A BAC-based melon physical map will be a useful tool to help assemble and refine the draft genome data that is being produced.
A melon physical map was constructed using a 5.7 × BAC library and a genetic map previously developed in our laboratories. High-information-content fingerprinting (HICF) was carried out on 23,040 BAC clones, digesting with five restriction enzymes and SNaPshot labeling, followed by contig assembly with FPC software. The physical map has 1,355 contigs and 441 singletons, with an estimated physical length of 407 Mb (0.9 × coverage of the genome) and the longest contig being 3.2 Mb. The anchoring of 845 BAC clones to 178 genetic markers (100 RFLPs, 76 SNPs and 2 SSRs) also allowed the genetic positioning of 183 physical map contigs/singletons, representing 55 Mb (12%) of the melon genome, to individual chromosomal loci. The melon FPC database is available for download at
Here we report the construction of the first physical map of a Cucurbitaceae species described so far. The physical map was integrated with the genetic map so that a number of physical contigs, representing 12% of the melon genome, could be anchored to known genetic positions. The data presented is already helping to improve the quality of the melon genomic sequence available as a result of a project currently being carried out in Spain, adopting a whole genome shotgun approach based on 454 sequencing data.
PMCID: PMC2894041  PMID: 20509895
7.  An oligo-based microarray offers novel transcriptomic approaches for the analysis of pathogen resistance and fruit quality traits in melon (Cucumis melo L.) 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:467.
Melon (Cucumis melo) is a horticultural specie of significant nutritional value, which belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose economic importance is second only to the Solanaceae. Its small genome of approx. 450 Mb coupled to the high genetic diversity has prompted the development of genetic tools in the last decade. However, the unprecedented existence of a transcriptomic approaches in melon, highlight the importance of designing new tools for high-throughput analysis of gene expression.
We report the construction of an oligo-based microarray using a total of 17,510 unigenes derived from 33,418 high-quality melon ESTs. This chip is particularly enriched with genes that are expressed in fruit and during interaction with pathogens. Hybridizations for three independent experiments allowed the characterization of global gene expression profiles during fruit ripening, as well as in response to viral and fungal infections in plant cotyledons and roots, respectively. Microarray construction, statistical analyses and validation together with functional-enrichment analysis are presented in this study.
The platform validation and enrichment analyses shown in our study indicate that this oligo-based microarray is amenable for future genetic and functional genomic studies of a wide range of experimental conditions in melon.
PMCID: PMC2767371  PMID: 19821986
8.  MELOGEN: an EST database for melon functional genomics 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:306.
Melon (Cucumis melo L.) is one of the most important fleshy fruits for fresh consumption. Despite this, few genomic resources exist for this species. To facilitate the discovery of genes involved in essential traits, such as fruit development, fruit maturation and disease resistance, and to speed up the process of breeding new and better adapted melon varieties, we have produced a large collection of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from eight normalized cDNA libraries from different tissues in different physiological conditions.
We determined over 30,000 ESTs that were clustered into 16,637 non-redundant sequences or unigenes, comprising 6,023 tentative consensus sequences (contigs) and 10,614 unclustered sequences (singletons). Many potential molecular markers were identified in the melon dataset: 1,052 potential simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and 356 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found. Sixty-nine percent of the melon unigenes showed a significant similarity with proteins in databases. Functional classification of the unigenes was carried out following the Gene Ontology scheme. In total, 9,402 unigenes were mapped to one or more ontology. Remarkably, the distributions of melon and Arabidopsis unigenes followed similar tendencies, suggesting that the melon dataset is representative of the whole melon transcriptome. Bioinformatic analyses primarily focused on potential precursors of melon micro RNAs (miRNAs) in the melon dataset, but many other genes potentially controlling disease resistance and fruit quality traits were also identified. Patterns of transcript accumulation were characterised by Real-Time-qPCR for 20 of these genes.
The collection of ESTs characterised here represents a substantial increase on the genetic information available for melon. A database (MELOGEN) which contains all EST sequences, contig images and several tools for analysis and data mining has been created. This set of sequences constitutes also the basis for an oligo-based microarray for melon that is being used in experiments to further analyse the melon transcriptome.
PMCID: PMC2034596  PMID: 17767721

Results 1-8 (8)