A number of molecular marker linkage maps have been developed for melon (Cucumis melo L.) over the last two decades. However, these maps were constructed using different marker sets, thus, making comparative analysis among maps difficult. In order to solve this problem, a consensus genetic map in melon was constructed using primarily highly transferable anchor markers that have broad potential use for mapping, synteny, and comparative quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis, increasing breeding effectiveness and efficiency via marker-assisted selection (MAS).
Under the framework of the International Cucurbit Genomics Initiative (ICuGI, http://www.icugi.org), an integrated genetic map has been constructed by merging data from eight independent mapping experiments using a genetically diverse array of parental lines. The consensus map spans 1150 cM across the 12 melon linkage groups and is composed of 1592 markers (640 SSRs, 330 SNPs, 252 AFLPs, 239 RFLPs, 89 RAPDs, 15 IMAs, 16 indels and 11 morphological traits) with a mean marker density of 0.72 cM/marker. One hundred and ninety-six of these markers (157 SSRs, 32 SNPs, 6 indels and 1 RAPD) were newly developed, mapped or provided by industry representatives as released markers, including 27 SNPs and 5 indels from genes involved in the organic acid metabolism and transport, and 58 EST-SSRs. Additionally, 85 of 822 SSR markers contributed by Syngenta Seeds were included in the integrated map. In addition, 370 QTL controlling 62 traits from 18 previously reported mapping experiments using genetically diverse parental genotypes were also integrated into the consensus map. Some QTL associated with economically important traits detected in separate studies mapped to similar genomic positions. For example, independently identified QTL controlling fruit shape were mapped on similar genomic positions, suggesting that such QTL are possibly responsible for the phenotypic variability observed for this trait in a broad array of melon germplasm.
Even though relatively unsaturated genetic maps in a diverse set of melon market types have been published, the integrated saturated map presented herein should be considered the initial reference map for melon. Most of the mapped markers contained in the reference map are polymorphic in diverse collection of germplasm, and thus are potentially transferrable to a broad array of genetic experimentation (e.g., integration of physical and genetic maps, colinearity analysis, map-based gene cloning, epistasis dissection, and marker-assisted selection).