Scientists at CIMAP succeeded in whole genome sequencing of Holy basil or Tulsi

Jun 4, 2015 08:13 IST

Scientists at Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow succeeded in whole genome sequencing of Holy basil or Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum). CIMAP is a frontier plant research laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Scientists published the whole genome sequence of Tulsi on 28 May 2015 in BMC Genomics.

This is the first report of complete genome sequence of Tulsi, which is both used as an essential medicinal plant and revered as Vishnupriya and worshipped for over 3000 years in India.

The availability of whole genome sequence is the first step to understand and unravel the secrets of this mother of all herbs and to provide scientific validity to the traditional claims of its utility in diverse medicinal usage.

Tulsi is rich in phenylpropanoids, terpenoids and their derivatives, and many of these are implicated for different therapeutic activities. The availability of the genome sequence now opens the possibility to identify genes involved in producing therapeutic molecules and to produce them in vitro.

The nuclear genome of Holy basil is the smallest (386 Mb) in the family Lamiaceae while the chloroplast genome (142,245 bp) is the smallest in the order Lamiales. According to the chloroplast genome similarity, O. sanctum shows maximum evolutionary closeness to Salvia miltiorrhiza, a plant of Chinese system of traditional medicine

This will also facilitate identification of not yet identified genes involved in the synthesis of important secondary metabolites in this plant. Specific pathway related genes identified or mined in this genome could be used for the production of secondary metabolites following synthetic biology approaches. The development of molecular tools and genomic resources will accelerate molecular breeding and ultimately the utility of Holy basil in medical community.

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