Genomic and Transcriptomic Analysis Identified Gene Clusters and Candidate Genes for Oil Content in Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.)

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea), a major source of vegetable oil in many Asian countries, has become an integral part of human diet globally due to its high nutritional properties and option to consume in different forms. In order to meet the demand of vegetable oil, many peanut breeding programs of China have intensified their efforts in increasing oil content in newly bred varieties for reducing the import of edible oils in China. In this context, transcriptome sequencing data generated on 49 peanut cultivars were analyzed to identify candidate genes and develop molecular markers for seed oil content across multiple environments. Transcriptome analysis identified 5458 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) including 2243 positive DEGs and 3215 negative DEGs involved in oil synthesis process. Genome-wide association study identified 48 significant insertion/deletion (InDel) markers associated with seed oil content across five environments. A comparative genomics and transcriptomics analysis detected a total of 147 common gene clusters located in 17 chromosomes. Interestingly, an InDel cluster associated with seed oil content on A03 chromosome was detected in three different environments. Candidate genes identified on A03 form a haplotype, in which variable alleles were found to be different in oil content in an independent population. This locus is important for understanding the genetic control of peanut oil content and may be useful for marker-assisted selection in peanut breeding programs.