Ronan Perry
Year: 2015
Faculty Advisor: Zhangjun Fei

Recombination Patterns of Watermelon Recombinant Inbred Lines (RILs)

Project Summary

Watermelons are a massive international crop accounting for nearly ten percent of international vegetable production. One of its many cousins is the citron melon which, while lacking the flavor of the watermelon, has an accession, PI-296341-FR, with notable resistance to Fusarium wilt, a prominent disease that troubles melon growers. Both of these melons have sequenced genomes and have been crossed in order to create an F8 population of 96 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) that have a mostly homozygous mix of their parent’s genomes. The genomes of these RILs have been sequenced as well. With this data, the RIL genomes can be analyzed in relation to the parents in order to generate a genetic map of parent specific regions within the RIL genomes. Recombination events can then be derived and hotspots and coldspots can be identified. With this information, plant breeders and researchers will be better able understand patterns of genetic variation in watermelons and be able to accelerate breeding through knowledge of recombination rates. Additionally, the creation of linkage maps and identification of QTLs will aid in the development of watermelon genetic mapping.

My Experience

BTI has provided me an amazing and unique experience with this internship. I didn’t know what exactly to expect but knew that I would be able to explore my interest in computer science. Although I had a strong knowledge base to work off of, I came to realize that I understood little and so over the course of this internship, I have spent as much time learning as I have spent working. I taught myself Perl, learned to work with the Linux command line, came to understand how bioinformatics and genomic analysis works, and gained experience working with a lab and mentor. Additionally, despite my initial focus and interest on the computational side of this work, the internship has given me an appreciation for the importance of the biological research side. I would like to thank BTI for hosting me here, Dr. Fei and my mentor, Honghe Sun, for their support and help along the way.