The results were recently published in the journal Nature Group – Communications Biology.
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According to the team, with the growing interest in herbal medicine around the world, researchers are focusing on poorly understood herbs, such as their genetic background. Developments in DNA and RNA sequencing technology have led to a new discipline called “herbal genomics” aimed at understanding the genetic makeup of herbs and their relationship to medicinal properties. Given the beginnings of the field of herbal genomics and the complexity of herbal methods, so far only a few well-integrated herbal genomes have been studied, the team claims.
“For the first time in the world, we’ve sequenced the genome of India’s gold-spice turmeric. This work is significant because turmeric has been the focus of more than 3,000 publications, but the full genome sequence is not known until we have a team work on it,” said Binit K. Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, IISER Bhopal 7
“As the first explanation of the genetic makeup of turmeric, our study has provided hitherto unknown information about the plant. IISER sequencing and analysis has also confirmed the triploid genetic makeup of turmeric,” he said.
Researchers have performed comparative evolutionary analysis across 17 plant species. The comparison shows the evolution of genes associated with secondary metabolism, plant phytohormonal signaling, and various biological and abiotic stress tolerance responses.
Researchers have revealed the genetic structure of the main enzyme involved in the production of the main medicinal compound curcuminoid present in turmeric. They also show the evolutionary source of these enzymes.
“Our research has shown that many genes in turmeric have evolved in response to environmental stress. In order to survive under environmental stress, turmeric plants have created unique genetic pathways for secondary metabolic synthesis, such as carcinoids, to survive on their own. These secondary metabolites have medicinal properties. Sharma added.
He explained that turmeric has been widely used in Indian medicine for centuries, and in recent years it has been translated into modern medicine.
“In this context, the genome sequencing of turmeric would be helpful in its inclusion in the mainstream pharmaceutical system. The genome sequencing of this medicinal plant will help further research on this species, providing new insights into the origins of the medicinal properties of this plant, genus, and family,” Sharma said.
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