Chromosome-Scale Genome Assembly of Gilia yorkii Enables Genetic Mapping of Floral Traits in an Interspecies Cross

David E. Jarvis, Peter J. Maughan, Joseph DeTemple, Veronica Mosquera, Zheng Li, Michael S. Barker, Leigh A. Johnson, Clinton J. Whipple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Substantial morphological variation in land plants remains inaccessible to genetic analysis because current models lack variation in important ecological and agronomic traits. The genus Gilia was historically a model for biosystematics studies and includes variation in morphological traits that are poorly understood at the genetic level. We assembled a chromosome-scale reference genome of G. yorkii and used it to investigate genome evolution in the Polemoniaceae. We performed QTL (quantitative trait loci) mapping in a G. yorkiixG. capitata interspecific population for traits related to inflorescence architecture and flower color. The genome assembly spans 2.75 Gb of the estimated 2.80-Gb genome, with 96.7% of the sequence contained in the nine largest chromosome-scale scaffolds matching the haploid chromosome number. Gilia yorkii experienced at least one round of whole-genome duplication shared with other Polemoniaceae after the eudicot paleohexaploidization event. We identified QTL linked to variation in inflorescence architecture and petal color, including a candidate for the major flower color QTL—a tandem duplication of flavanol 3́,5́-hydroxylase. Our results demonstrate the utility of Gilia as a forward genetic model for dissecting the evolution of development in plants including the causal loci underlying inflorescence architecture transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberevac017
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Gilia
  • QTL mapping
  • evolution of development
  • genome assembly
  • inflorescence architecture
  • whole-genome duplication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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