Successful chromosome-scale genome sequencing of the herbal drug “licorice”

December 20, 2022

Elucidation of gene clusters that make up medicinal ingredients

A joint research group of the RIKEN CSRS, Kazusa DNA Research Institute, Chiba University, Osaka University, and the National Institute of Genetics has determined the chromosome-scale high-quality genome sequence of licorice from the Leguminosae family, used as an important ingredient in Oriental herbal medicine and natural sweeteners.

Licorice has many medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and cough-relieving effects. In addition, glycyrrhizin, a major ingredient contained in roots, is in increasing demand worldwide as a raw material for pharmaceuticals and natural sweeteners. It was expected that if the high-quality genome sequence of licorice could be determined, efficient breeding based on genomic information would be possible.

In this study, the joint research group succeeded in sequencing the chromosome-scale high-quality genome of Chinese licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) using state-of-the-art sequencing technology. They confirmed that enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of glycyrrhizin and other compounds of medicinal value are localized in a narrow region of the chromosome.

The results of this study are expected to be useful for breeding licorice using biotechnology and improving the production of medicinal components.

Original article
DNA Research doi:10.1093/dnares/dsac043
A. Rai, H. Hirakawa, M. Rai, Y. Shimizu, K. Shirasawa, S. Kikuchi, H. Seki, M. Yamazaki, A. Toyoda, S. Isobe, T. Muranaka, K. Saito,
"Chromosome-scale genome assembly of Glycyrrhiza uralensis revealed metabolic gene cluster centered specialized metabolites biosynthesis".
Kazuki Saito; Group Director
Amit Rai; Research Scientist
Metabolomics Research Group