Kerala

Scientists decode genome of ‘miracle plant’

Arogyapacha is endemic to the Agastya hills in the southern Western Ghats.  

Scientists from the University of Kerala have decoded the genetic make-up of Arogyapacha (Trichopus zeylanicus), a highly potent medicinal plant endemic to the Agasthya hills.

This ‘miracle plant’ is known for its traditional use by the Kani tribal community to combat fatigue. Studies have also proved its varied spectrum of pharmacological properties such as anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-tumour, anti-ulcer, anti-hyperlipidemic, hepatoprotective and anti-diabetic.

The project was undertaken in the State Inter University Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics at the Department of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Kerala.

Lack of reference

The lack of a reference genome that hindered extensive research on Arogyapacha prompted the researchers to sequence the whole genome.

“The project is bound to open up a new window to the plant’s molecular secrets,” says Achuthsankar S. Nair, head of the department.

Led by post-doctoral fellow Biju V.C., the team included Anu Sasi, Veena S. Rajan, Sheethal Vijayan, and Shidhi in the analysis and annotation of the genome. Another researcher from the department, Anoop P.K., a member of the Kani tribe, was also associated with it.

According to Dr. Biju, the genome and annotation data will be a valuable resource to expedite research on Arogyapacha, particularly its secondary metabolism, genetic breeding, and comparative studies.

While this is the first report of draft genome sequencing of a plant species to be brought out by the University of Kerala, two more species are currently being sequenced.

The manuscript has been accepted for publication in G3: Genes, Genomes and Genetics, published by the Genetics Society of America.

Datasets in portal

Besides, the raw sequence data and genome assembly have been deposited in the US-based public database maintained by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The functional annotation datasets can be downloaded from keralauniversity.ac.in/trichopus-zeylanicus.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 11:43:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ku-researchers-decode-arogyapacha-genome/article28119199.ece

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