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Crop Biotech Update

Opium Poppy Genome Decoded

September 5, 2018

The genome sequence of opium poppy has been released by scientists at the University of York in partnership with the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK, and international colleagues. The genome sequence reveals how opium poppy evolved to produce the pharmaceutical compounds used to make vital medicines. Their work has shown the origins of the genetic pathway leading to the production of the cough suppressant noscapine and painkiller drugs morphine and codeine.

The scientists produced a high quality assembly of the 2.7 GigaBase genome sequence distributed across 11 chromosomes. They identified a large cluster of 15 genes that encode enzymes involved in two distinct biosynthetic pathways involved in the production of both noscapine and the compounds leading to codeine and morphine. The genome assembly also allowed the researchers to identify ancestral genes that came together to produce the STORR gene fusion responsible for the major step on the pathway to morphine and codeine.

For more details, read the University of York News.