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First-Ever Opium Poppy Genome Assembled
USAgNet - 10/15/2018

Xi'an Jiaotong University, The Wellcome Sanger Institute, The University of York, and NRGene have recently completed the world's first assembly of the opium poppy genome.

"We're using the genome to find key gene clusters that can be leveraged to develop affordable and reliable medicine," says Professor Kai Ye of Xi'an Jiaotong University. "NRGene's technology quickly delivered an initial version of the assembly to allow further improvement."

NRGene's DeNovoMAGIC provided comprehensive results only a few weeks after receiving the raw material from the University of York. DeNovoMAGIC assembles Illumina reads into long sequences, delivering accurate assembly results to provide researchers with a complete picture of their varieties for in-depth research. The opium poppy genome project team supplemented NRGene's data with analysis from PacBio and a linkage map to further improve the result from NRGene's scaffold N50 at 15.6Mb, contig N50 at 121kb to the final product of scaffold N50 at 205Mb and contig N50 1.77Mb.

The final assembly allows the teams to understand the species evolution and how metabolic pathways are constructed, providing a more in-depth picture of the plant's properties as a natural pharmaceutical. Opium has long been used as a natural pain killer; the poppy plant is the basis of the extracts used to create hydrocodone and codeine.

"International cooperation across academic and corporate entities are now the norm," said Professor Ian Graham from the University of York. "Leveraging and sharing technologies and results, especially in terms of genome mapping, is providing a true paradigm shift in food and medical research."

Researchers around the world are leveraging NRGene's technologies to accelerate agricultural research on animals and food and biofuel crops, such as wheat, soy, potato, and maize. GenoMAGICTM enables researchers to easily relate genomic sequences with beneficial traits to accelerate and enhance genetic discovery and breeding. PanMAGICTM produces an accurate genome-to-genome mapping and displays all types of sequence differences within the studied population including SNPs, InDels of any size, inversions, translocations, gene PAVs, and gene CNVs. ArrayMAGICTM maximizes the data found in microarrays/GBS to obtain high resolution genomic information by imputing back from SNPs to full genomic sequences.

"Previously, NRGene's technology has been focused on increasing the world's food supply," said Gil Ronen, CEO of NRGene. "Projects like this have significant implications for improving health and quality of life."

The breakthrough, published in a recent issue of Science, reveals the origins of the pathway leading to production of the cough suppressant noscapine and the painkiller drugs codeine and morphine.

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