Research Highlight

Genome of giloy medicinal plant decoded

doi:10.1038/nindia.2021.118 Published online 13 September 2021

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Bhopal have sequenced the genome of giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), a medicinal herb that belongs to a family of 400 plant species with high therapeutic values1

The genome sequence, the researchers say, may provide insights into the genomic basis of the medicinal properties for which the plant is well known. 

This knowledge, they say, may shed light on the mechanisms and pathways for the production of numerous secondary metabolites, including ones that have already shown efficacy against SARS-CoV-2

T. cordifolia originated in Africa around 28 million years ago and then gradually spread to sub-tropical regions of Asia. Despite its tremendous medicinal potential, this plant’s genome had not been sequenced.

To decode its genome, the scientists extracted DNA and RNA from giloy leaves. Using the latest gene-sequencing technique, they then identified more than 19,000 genes that encode specific proteins.

The researchers say that this genome could be used to identify the evolutionary signatures of various stress-tolerance genes and pathways that are responsible for this plant’s survival under environmental stress.

This research may also provide leads for finding specific enzymes and their structures. This, in turn, could help perform molecular docking studies against various drug targets such as the main protease, an enzyme that aids the proliferation of the coronavirus when it invades host cells, says lead researcher Vineet K. Sharma. This, he says, may eventually lead to the discovery of new drug molecules.


References

1. Mahajan, S. et al. Genome sequencing and assembly of Tinospora cordifolia (Giloy) plant. BioRxiv.(2021) Doi:10.1101/2021.08.02.454741