Unravelling the genome of Holy basil: an "incomparable" "elixir of life" of traditional Indian medicine.
Ocimum sanctum L. (O. tenuiflorum) family-Lamiaceae is an important component of Indian tradition of medicine as well as culture around the world, and hence is known as "Holy basil" in India. This plant is mentioned in the ancient texts of Ayurveda as an "elixir of life" (life saving) herb and worshipped for over 3000 years due to its healing properties. Although used in various ailments, validation of molecules for differential activities is yet to be fully analyzed, as about 80 % of the patents on this plant are on extracts or the plant parts, and mainly focussed on essential oil components. With a view to understand the full metabolic potential of this plant whole nuclear and chloroplast genomes were sequenced for the first time combining the sequence data from 4 libraries and three NGS platforms.
The saturated draft assembly of the genome was about 386 Mb, along with the plastid genome of 142,245 bp, turning out to be the smallest in Lamiaceae. In addition to SSR markers, 136 proteins were identified as homologous to five important plant genomes. Pathway analysis indicated an abundance of phenylpropanoids in O. sanctum. Phylogenetic analysis for chloroplast proteome placed Salvia miltiorrhiza as the nearest neighbor. Comparison of the chemical compounds and genes availability in O. sanctum and S. miltiorrhiza indicated the potential for the discovery of new active molecules.
The genome sequence and annotation of O. sanctum provides new insights into the function of genes and the medicinal nature of the metabolites synthesized in this plant. This information is highly beneficial for mining biosynthetic pathways for important metabolites in related species.
BMC Genomics. 2015 May 28;16:413. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1640-z.