A view of the pan-genome of domesticated Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.)

Plant Genome. 2024 Mar;17(1):e20319. doi: 10.1002/tpg2.20319. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata L. Walp., is a diploid warm-season legume of critical importance as both food and fodder in sub-Saharan Africa. This species is also grown in Northern Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, and East to Southeast Asia. To capture the genomic diversity of domesticates of this important legume, de novo genome assemblies were produced for representatives of six subpopulations of cultivated cowpea identified previously from genotyping of several hundred diverse accessions. In the most complete assembly (IT97K-499-35), 26,026 core and 4963 noncore genes were identified, with 35,436 pan genes when considering all seven accessions. GO terms associated with response to stress and defense response were highly enriched among the noncore genes, while core genes were enriched in terms related to transcription factor activity, and transport and metabolic processes. Over 5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) relative to each assembly and over 40 structural variants >1 Mb in size were identified by comparing genomes. Vu10 was the chromosome with the highest frequency of SNPs, and Vu04 had the most structural variants. Noncore genes harbor a larger proportion of potentially disruptive variants than core genes, including missense, stop gain, and frameshift mutations; this suggests that noncore genes substantially contribute to diversity within domesticated cowpea.

MeSH terms

  • Fabaceae* / genetics
  • Genes, Plant
  • Genome, Plant
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Vigna* / genetics