In a first, IISER Bhopal researchers unravel genome of turmeric

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Vishu
Vishu Verma
Assistant Manager
Updated on Dec 9, 2021 12:55 IST

The researchers performed comparative evolutionary analysis across 17 plant species. The comparison showed the evolution of genes associated with secondary metabolites responsible for the medicinal properties of turmeric.  

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal have sequenced the genome of the turmeric plant for the first time in the world. The findings have been published in the journal, ‘Communications Biology' 

With increasing interest in herbal medicines all over the world, researchers are focusing on the poorly understood areas of herbs such as their genetic backgrounds. The developments in DNA and RNA sequencing technologies have spurred on a new discipline called “herbal genomics” that are targeted to understanding the genetic composition of herbs and their relationship with the medicinal traits.  

Vineet K Sharma from the Department of Biological Sciences, IISER Bhopal, said, “We have, for the first time in the world, sequenced the genome of turmeric, the golden spice of India.” 

The researchers have used two techniques – the short-read sequencing of 10x genomics (chromium) and long-read Oxford nanopore sequencing – to unravel the genetic makeup of turmeric.  

The researchers performed comparative evolutionary analysis across 17 plant species. The comparison showed the evolution of genes associated with secondary metabolism, plant phytohormones signalling and various biotic and abiotic stress tolerance responses.  

The researchers have, for the first time, revealed the genetic structures associated with major enzymes involved in the production of curcuminoids, the key medicinal compounds present in turmeric. They have also shown the evolutionary origin of these enzymes. 

“Our studies have shown that many genes in turmeric have evolved in response to environmental stressors,” said Sharma. To survive under environmental stress conditions, the turmeric plant has developed unique genetic pathways for synthesis of secondary metabolites such as curcuminoids for its own survival. These secondary metabolites are responsible for the medicinal properties of the herb. 

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About the Author
Vishu Verma
Assistant Manager

Vishu is a writer, an artist, a cat and an ardent music lover. She loves to read, sketch and explore new places in her leisure time. She has nine years of experience in print media.

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