A chromosome-level, haplotype-phased Vanilla planifolia genome highlights the challenge of partial endoreplication for accurate whole-genome assembly

Plant Commun. 2022 Sep 12;3(5):100330. doi: 10.1016/j.xplc.2022.100330. Epub 2022 May 5.


Vanilla planifolia, the species cultivated to produce one of the world's most popular flavors, is highly prone to partial genome endoreplication, which leads to highly unbalanced DNA content in cells. We report here the first molecular evidence of partial endoreplication at the chromosome scale by the assembly and annotation of an accurate haplotype-phased genome of V. planifolia. Cytogenetic data demonstrated that the diploid genome size is 4.09 Gb, with 16 chromosome pairs, although aneuploid cells are frequently observed. Using PacBio HiFi and optical mapping, we assembled and phased a diploid genome of 3.4 Gb with a scaffold N50 of 1.2 Mb and 59 128 predicted protein-coding genes. The atypical k-mer frequencies and the uneven sequencing depth observed agreed with our expectation of unbalanced genome representation. Sixty-seven percent of the genes were scattered over only 30% of the genome, putatively linking gene-rich regions and the endoreplication phenomenon. By contrast, low-coverage regions (non-endoreplicated) were rich in repeated elements but also contained 33% of the annotated genes. Furthermore, this assembly showed distinct haplotype-specific sequencing depth variation patterns, suggesting complex molecular regulation of endoreplication along the chromosomes. This high-quality, anchored assembly represents 83% of the estimated V. planifolia genome. It provides a significant step toward the elucidation of this complex genome. To support post-genomics efforts, we developed the Vanilla Genome Hub, a user-friendly integrated web portal that enables centralized access to high-throughput genomic and other omics data and interoperable use of bioinformatics tools.

Keywords: genome hub; optical mapping; partial endoreplication; vanilla; whole-genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes
  • Endoreduplication
  • Genome Size
  • Haplotypes
  • Vanilla* / genetics