BHUBANESWAR: In a first, scientists at the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar have conducted the whole genome sequencing of one of the important plant species Moringa oleifera (drumstick) that everybody is fond of. Known for its high nutritive values, Moringa represents a promising species capable of minimising the adverse effects of drought stress and can enhance the soil of arid regions. It is used as a potential antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and antimicrobial agent.
The study of genes found that heat shock transcription factors (HSFs) have emerged as important regulators of response to abiotic stress in plants as the Moringa plant can withstand drought conditions.
ILS Director Dr. Ajay Parida said the high-quality genome sequencing of M oleifera var Bhagya (the variety available in Odisha) and a comparison of its genome with genomes of other plants revealed a number of orthologous groups that are important for growth and survival of plants.
“We have identified 32,062 protein-coding genes in the assembled genome. The major categories of the genes included those related to molecular, cellular and metabolic processes. We have analysed their expression in response to drought stress. Moringa can withstand both severe drought and mild frost conditions,” he said.
The scientists analysed its genes by comparing protein sequences from 11 other plant species along with M oleifera. They also identified 21 heat shock proteins in the genome ranging in length from 110 to 1,530 amino acids. The expression pattern of the HSFs) was analysed in response to drought stress.
M oliefera is a versatile plant and a repository of essential phytochemicals such as tannins, sterols, terpenoids, ﬂavonoids, saponins, anthraquinones, alkaloids, and reducing sugar, present in leaves, pods, and seeds. Its seed, a natural coagulant, is extensively used in water treatment while the leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins and other essential phytochemicals.
Seeds for four varieties of M oleifera - Bhagya, ODC3, PKM1, and PKM2, were collected from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Dhenkanal for the study. The seeds were soaked in distilled water overnight and planted in a mix of soil rite and vermicompost in a ratio of 3:1. Plants were grown under controlled conditions. Young leaves of M oleifera var Bhagya were collected for high-quality DNA isolation for whole-genome sequencing.
Apart from Dr. Parida, scientists Sushree Shyamali, Seema Pradhan and Mitrabinda Panda were involved in the study that has been published recently in the international journal Frontiers in Plant Sciences.