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Evolutionary history of apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) and impact of different processes of evolution on genetic diversity

Abstract : Nowadays, increasing attention is focused on perennial crop species and their wild relatives. The domestication of perennials is expected to follow different processes than annuals, and there is limited knowledge about how perennial plant species evolve in response to human intervention or changing environmental conditions. Indeed, the diversity of perennial species results from a series of mechanisms of evolution, which include natural and artificial selection, gene flow between wild and cultivated compartments, and dynamics of dispersion at large scales, often over long periods. Unraveling the evolutionary history and domestication processes of long-lived tree species is expected to provide insights into the potential differences and similarities between annual and perennial species, and furtherly to facilitate breeding efforts for traits of interest.In the current PhD thesis, we focused on apricot species, Prunus armeniaca L., and its related species from the section Armeniaca (Lam.) Koch.. We characterized genetic diversity and variability and addressed a few important questions related to fruit tree origin, evolution and domestication, and further identified candidate genes and loci underlying important agronomic traits that have been under selection during domestication.Our microsatellite data and approximate Bayesian computation revealed that the wild species P. armeniaca and P. sibirica diverged ca. 8 to 16 Mya ago, followed by interspecific hybridization leading to a new, isolated species, in Western China. We also showed that the European and Chinese apricots were domesticated independently either both from the Central Asian wild progenitor or from the hybrid species.Following the same strategy, we studied the genetic diversity and structuration of the only European Armeniaca species, P. brigantina Vill. and thus questioned its classification among the genus Prunus.Finally, taking advantage of the de novo assembly of a high-quality apricot reference genome and of extensive resequencing data, we focused on how selection has influenced genomic architecture in apricot (P. armeniaca). To test for common or distinct signatures of selection, we took advantage of the parallel history of domestication in the European and Chinese apricots and compared with their wild, Central Asian progenitor. We detected evidence for artificial selection at a genome-wide scale, both for European and Chinese apricots, with a significant number of homologous genomic signatures of domestication, thus indicating convergent yet independent selection of a common set of genes during two geographically and culturally distinct domestication processes. We also identified signatures of selection which could be associated with local adaptation in either wild or cultivated apricots.Therefore, a better knowledge on apricot evolutionary history combined with comparative population genomics enables the identification and utilization of adaptive and domestication traits that are important for apricot cultivation, It is expected to provide an unprecedented opportunity to identify the genetic basis of long-lived perennials’ adaptation and domestication.
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Shuo Liu. Evolutionary history of apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.) and impact of different processes of evolution on genetic diversity. Agricultural sciences. Université de Bordeaux, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019BORD0190⟩. ⟨tel-02421879v2⟩

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