Durian (Durio zibethinus) is a Southeast Asian tropical plant known for its hefty, spine-covered fruit and sulfury and onion-like odor. Here we present a draft genome assembly of D. zibethinus, representing the third plant genus in the Malvales order and first in the Helicteroideae subfamily to be sequenced. Single-molecule sequencing and chromosome contact maps enabled assembly of the highly heterozygous durian genome at chromosome-scale resolution. Transcriptomic analysis showed upregulation of sulfur-, ethylene-, and lipid-related pathways in durian fruits. We observed paleopolyploidization events shared by durian and cotton and durian-specific gene expansions in MGL (methionine γ-lyase), associated with production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). MGL and the ethylene-related gene ACS (aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase) were upregulated in fruits concomitantly with their downstream metabolites (VSCs and ethylene), suggesting a potential association between ethylene biosynthesis and methionine regeneration via the Yang cycle. The durian genome provides a resource for tropical fruit biology and agronomy.
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