Wolfberry genomes and the evolution of Lycium (Solanaceae)

You Long Cao, Yan long Li, Yun Fang Fan, Zhen Li, Kouki Yoshida, Jie Yu Wang, Xiao Kai Ma, Ning Wang, Nobutaka Mitsuda, Toshihisa Kotake, Takeshi Ishimizu, Kun Chan Tsai, Shan Ce Niu, Diyang Zhang, Wei Hong Sun, Qing Luo, Jian Hua Zhao, Yue Yin, Bo Zhang, Jun Yi WangKen Qin, Wei An, Jun He, Guo Li Dai, Ya Jun Wang, Zhi Gang Shi, En Ning Jiao, Peng Ju Wu, Xuedie Liu, Bin Liu, Xing Yu Liao, Yu Ting Jiang, Xia Yu, Yang Hao, Xin Yu Xu, Shuang Quan Zou, Ming He Li, Yu Yun Hsiao, Yu Fu Lin, Chieh Kai Liang, You Yi Chen, Wan Lin Wu, Hsiang Chai Lu, Si Ren Lan, Zhi Wen Wang, Xiang Zhao, Wen Ying Zhong, Chuan Ming Yeh, Wen Chieh Tsai, Yves Van de Peer, Zhong Jian Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Wolfberry Lycium, an economically important genus of the Solanaceae family, contains approximately 80 species and shows a fragmented distribution pattern among the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Although several herbaceous species of Solanaceae have been subjected to genome sequencing, thus far, no genome sequences of woody representatives have been available. Here, we sequenced the genomes of 13 perennial woody species of Lycium, with a focus on Lycium barbarum. Integration with other genomes provides clear evidence supporting a whole-genome triplication (WGT) event shared by all hitherto sequenced solanaceous plants, which occurred shortly after the divergence of Solanaceae and Convolvulaceae. We identified new gene families and gene family expansions and contractions that first appeared in Solanaceae. Based on the identification of self-incompatibility related-gene families, we inferred that hybridization hotspots are enriched for genes that might be functioning in gametophytic self-incompatibility pathways in wolfberry. Extremely low expression of LOCULE NUBER (LC) and COLORLESS NON-RIPENING (CNR) orthologous genes during Lycium fruit development and ripening processes suggests functional diversification of these two genes between Lycium and tomato. The existence of additional flowering locus C-like MADS-box genes might correlate with the perennial flowering cycle of Lycium. Differential gene expression involved in the lignin biosynthetic pathway between Lycium and tomato likely illustrates woody and herbaceous differentiation. We also provide evidence that Lycium migrated from Africa into Asia, and subsequently from Asia into North America. Our results provide functional insights into Solanaceae origins, evolution and diversification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number671
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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