Authors: Salvatore Esposito, Riccardo Aiese Cigliano, Teodoro Cardi & Pasquale Tripodi


  • CREA Research Centre for Cereal and Industrial Crops, S.S. 673, km 25.200, 71122, Foggia, Italy
  • Sequentia Biotech SL, Barcelona, Spain
  • CNR-IBBR, Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources, via Università 133, 80055, Portici, Italy

Publication: BMC Genomic Data 

Date:  March 2022

Link: Whole-genome resequencing reveals genomic footprints of Italian sweet and hot pepper heirlooms giving insight into genes underlying key agronomic and qualitative traits


Pepper is a major crop species of the Solanaceae family, largely appreciated for its high nutritional and healthy contribution to human diets. In the Mediterranean basin, the favorable pedoclimatic conditions enhanced the selection of several diversified landraces cultivated pepper (Capsicum annuum), for whom Italy can be considered a main pole of diversification. Hence, a survey of traditional C. annuum genetic resources is essential for deep understanding of such diversity and for applications in genomics assisted breeding. Here, we report whole-genome resequencing analyses of two sweet and two pungent genotypes highly diffused in South Italy and representative of the variability for shape, colour and nutritional properties.

The four genomes were reconstructed at a chromosomal scale using a reference-guided approach, based on a dataset of 2.6 billion paired-end reads, corresponding to 20× genome coverage and a mapping rate above 99% for a final genomes size of approximately 3 Gb. After five iterations of variant calling, a total of 29,258,818 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 1,879,112 InDels, were identified. Substantial differences were observed among the four genomes based on geographical origin, with chromosomes 9 and 11 showing more polymorphisms in the accessions with higher fruit weight and absence of pungency. Among the identified variants, a small private indel (T - > TA) shared between sweet and big fruits accessions induces a frameshift with the generation of a new stop codon in a gene annotated as extensin, whereas two private SNPs within hot types were identified in 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase (ACO), a key gene involved in fruit ripening. The estimation of repetitive elements highlights a preponderant presence of Long Terminal Repeats (LTRs), the majority of which belonged to Gypsy superfamily. By comparing the four genomes with publicly available references including ‘CM334’ and Zunla-1 highlight the presence of 49,475 shared gene families.

The new genomic sequences aim to enrich the whole genome information of pepper local varieties, providing a valuable tool for precision gene mapping, marker discovery, comparative studies. Such knowledge widens the frontiers to understand the selection history of Italian pepper landraces toward the recognition of specificity local agri-food products marks.