Turmeric genes evolved in response to environmental stressors: Study

A team of researchers from IISER Bhopal has traced the genetic composition of the golden spice and its relationship to its medicinal traits.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  9 Dec 2021 10:03 AM GMT
Turmeric genes evolved in response to environmental stressors: Study

Hyderabad: For the first time in the world, IISER Bhopal has successfully conducted the genome sequencing of turmeric, making a path-breaking revelation to the field of herbal medicines.

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal, led by Dr. Vineet K. Sharma, associate professor in the department of biological sciences, has traced the genetic composition of the golden spice and its relationship to its medicinal traits.

Turmeric has been widely used in the Indian medicinal systems for centuries and its translation into modern medicine is being pursued in recent years. In this context, the genome sequence of turmeric would be instrumental in its incorporation into mainstream medicinal systems.

The paper, co-authored by Abhisek Chakraborty, Shruti Mahajan, Shubham K. Jaiswal, and Dr. Vineet K. Sharma of IISER Bhopal, has been published in Communications Biology, a journal belonging to the prestigious Nature group.

The genome sequencing of turmeric provides new insights into the origin of its medicinal properties and will also aid further studies on its species, genus, and family.


"We have, for the first time in the world, sequenced the genome of turmeric, the golden spice of India," said Mr. Vineet. He added that the work is significant because more than 3,000 publications have focused on turmeric but the whole genome sequence was not known until the IISER team worked on it.

"Being the first elucidation of the genetic makeup of turmeric, our study has provided hitherto unknown information about the plant," said the lead researcher. The IISER sequencing and analysis has also confirmed the triploid genetic makeup of turmeric.

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.

"We have also elucidated the position of turmeric in the evolutionary pathway through our genomic sequencing," said Dr. Sharma, one of the authors.

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 Dr. Sharma. He said that to survive under environmental stress conditions, the turmeric plant has developed unique genetic pathways for the synthesis of secondary metabolites such as curcuminoids for its own survival. These secondary metabolites are responsible for the medicinal properties of the herb, the study revealed.

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 is targeted to understand the genetic composition of herbs and their relationship to medicinal traits.

Given the nascent field of herbal genomics and the complexity of herbal systems, only a few well-assembled herbal genomes have been studied so far.

Next Story
Share it