Darlon V. Lantican, Susan R. Strickler, Alma O. Canama, Roanne R. Gardoce, Lukas A. Mueller and Hayde F. Galvez

We report the first whole genome sequence (WGS) assembly and annotation of a dwarf coconut variety, ‘Catigan Green Dwarf’ (CATD). The genome sequence was generated using the PacBio SMRT sequencing platform at 15X coverage of the expected genome size of 2.15 Gbp, which was corrected with assembled 50X Illumina paired-end MiSeq reads of the same genome. The draft genome was improved through Chicago® sequencing to generate a scaffold assembly that results in a total genome size of 2.1 Gbp consisting of 7,998 scaffolds with N50 of 570,487 bp. The final assembly covers around 97.6% of the estimated genome size of coconut ‘CATD’ based on homozygous k-mer peak analysis. A total of 34,958 high-confidence gene models were predicted and functionally associated to various economically important traits, such as pest/disease resistance, drought tolerance, coconut oil biosynthesis, and putative transcription factors. The assembled genome was used to infer the evolutionary relationship within the palm family based on genomic variations and synteny of coding gene sequences. Data show that at least three (3) rounds of whole genome duplication occurred and are commonly shared by these members of the Arecaceae family. A total of 7,139 unique SSR markers were designed to be used as a resource in marker-based breeding. In addition, we discovered 58,503 variants in coconut by aligning the Hainan Tall (HAT) WGS reads to the non-repetitive regions of the assembled CATD genome. The gene markers and genome-wide SSR markers established here will facilitate the development of varieties with resilience to climate change, resistance to pests and diseases, and improved oil yield and quality.

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