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Conservation of gene function in the Solanaceae as revealed by comparative mapping of domestication traits in eggplant
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Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for domestication-related traits were identified in an interspecific F2 population of eggplant (Solanum linnaeanum × S. melongena). Although 62 quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified in two locations, most of the dramatic phenotypic differences in fruit weight, shape, color, and plant prickliness that distinguish cultivated eggplant from its wild relative could be attributed to six loci with major effects. Comparison of the genomic locations of the eggplant fruit weight, fruit shape, and color QTL with the positions of similar loci in tomato, potato, and pepper revealed that 40% of the different loci have putative orthologous counterparts in at least one of these other crop species. Overall, the results suggest that domestication of the Solanaceae has been driven by mutations in a very limited number of target loci with major phenotypic effects, that selection pressures were exerted on the same loci despite the crops' independent domestications on different continents, and that the morphological diversity of these four crops can be explained by divergent mutations at these loci.