CSIR succeeds in whole genome sequencing of basil

In what could be the first step to understand and unravel the secrets of 'mother of all herbs' and provide scientific validity to the traditional claims of its utility in diverse medicinal usage, CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP) has published whole genome sequence of Ocimum Sanctum (basil/tulsi).

CSIR succeeds in whole genome sequencing of basil

New Delhi: In what could be the first step to understand and unravel the secrets of 'mother of all herbs' and provide scientific validity to the traditional claims of its utility in diverse medicinal usage, CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP) has published whole genome sequence of Ocimum Sanctum (basil/tulsi).

This is the first report of complete genome sequence of a traditional and most respected medicinal plant of India, using composite next generation sequencing technologies.

"Considering the metabolic and therapeutic potential of this revered plant, 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," a statement by CSIR said.

"The availability of the genome sequence now opens the possibility to identify genes involved in producing therapeutic molecules and to produce them in vitro.

"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," it said.

It added that the development of molecular tools and genomic resources will accelerate molecular breeding and ultimately the utility of basil in medical community.

The nuclear genome of 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.

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