Eggplant domestication: pervasive gene flow, feralization, and transcriptomic divergence.
In the context of food security, examining the genomics of domestication will help identify genes underlying adaptive and economically important phenotypes, for example, larger fruit, improved taste, and loss of agronomically inferior phenotypes. Examination of genome-scale single nucleotide polymorphisms demonstrates the relationships between wild ancestors of eggplant (Solanum melongena L.), confirming that Solanum insanum L. is the wild progenitor. This species is split roughly into an Eastern (Malaysian, Thai, and Vietnamese) and Western (Indian, Madagascan, and Sri Lankan) group, with domesticates derived from the former. Additional "wild" accessions from India appear to be feral escapes, derived multiple times from domesticated varieties through admixture. Accessions with small egg-shaped fruit are generally found intermixed with East Asian Solanum insanum confirming they are primitive relative to the large-fruited domesticates. Comparative transcriptomics was used to track the loci under selection. Sequence analysis revealed a genetic bottleneck reducing variation by almost 50% in the primitive accessions relative to the wild species and a further 10% in the landraces. We also show evidence for selection on genes with a role in response to wounding and apoptosis. Genes showing a significant difference in expression between wild and primitive or between primitive and landrace genepools were mostly (>75%) downregulated in the derived populations and enriched for gene ontologies related to defense, flowering, signaling, and response to biotic and abiotic stimuli. This work reveals genomic changes involved in crop domestication and improvement, and the population genetics work explains why defining the eggplant domestication trajectory has been so challenging.