Genome sequence and evolution of Betula platyphylla

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© 2021, The Author(s). Betula L. (birch) is a pioneer hardwood tree species with ecological, economic, and evolutionary importance in the Northern Hemisphere. We sequenced the Betula platyphylla genome and assembled the sequences into 14 chromosomes. The Betula genome lacks evidence of recent whole-genome duplication and has the same paleoploidy level as Vitis vinifera and Prunus mume. Phylogenetic analysis of lignin pathway genes coupled with tissue-specific expression patterns provided clues for understanding the formation of higher ratios of syringyl to guaiacyl lignin observed in Betula species. Our transcriptome analysis of leaf tissues under a time-series cold stress experiment revealed the presence of the MEKK1–MKK2–MPK4 cascade and six additional mitogen-activated protein kinases that can be linked to a gene regulatory network involving many transcription factors and cold tolerance genes. Our genomic and transcriptome analyses provide insight into the structures, features, and evolution of the B. platyphylla genome. The chromosome-level genome and gene resources of B. platyphylla obtained in this study will facilitate the identification of important and essential genes governing important traits of trees and genetic improvement of B. platyphylla.

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Horticulture Research