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Open Access Research article

Chromosomal evolution in the plant family Solanaceae

Feinan Wu1 and Steven D Tanksley12*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

2 Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:182  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-182

Published: 17 March 2010



Over the past decades, extensive comparative mapping research has been performed in the plant family Solanaceae. The recent identification of a large set of single-copy conserved orthologous (COSII) markers has greatly accelerated comparative mapping studies among major solanaceous species including tomato, potato, eggplant, pepper and diploid Nicotiana species (as well as tetraploid tobacco). The large amount of comparative data now available for these species provides the opportunity to describe the overall patterns of chromosomal evolution in this important plant family. The results of this investigation are described herein.


We combined data from multiple COSII studies, and other comparative mapping studies performed in tomato, potato, eggplant, pepper and diploid Nicotiana species, to deduce the features and outcomes of chromosomal evolution in the Solanaceae over the past 30 million years. This includes estimating the rates and timing of chromosomal changes (inversions and translocations) as well as deducing the age of ancestral progenitor species and predicting their genome configurations.


The Solanaceae has experienced chromosomal changes at a modest rate compared with other families and the rates are likely conserved across different lineages of the family. Chromosomal inversions occur at a consistently higher rate than do translocations. Further, we find evidences for non-random positioning of the chromosomal rearrangement breakpoints. This finding is consistent with the similar finding in mammals, where hot spots for chromosomal breakages have apparently played a significant role in shaping genome evolution. Finally, by utilizing multiple genome comparisons we were able to reconstruct the most likely genome configuration for a number of now-extinct progenitor species that gave rise to the extant solanaceous species used in this research. The results from this study provide the first broad overview of chromosomal evolution in the family Solanaceae, and one of the most detailed thus far for any family of plants.