CSIR scientists sequence 'tulsi' genome

Indian scientists had a major breakthrough when they sequenced the whole genome of the Holy Basil (commonly known as tulsi) in an attempt to find its therapeutic effects, said Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Monday. Also known as “Mother of all herbs”, tulsi a sacred plant in Hindu belief, is used in several conventional medicines. As mentioned in Ayurveda, its dried leaf, dried seeds, in fact entire plant has therapeutic properties.

According to researchers, due to presence of organic compounds like phenylpropanoids and terpenoids, the holy plant has several therapeutic applications. Since, scientists have discovered the genome sequence, this will give a new insight and will open the gates for discovery of new genes that have therapeutic effects. In the press release, CSIR told that researchers from Lucknow and Bangalore have successfully generated a draft sequence of the 386 million genetic alphabets that make up the full genome of Ocimum sanctum, the botanical name for tulsi.

“This will also facilitate identification of not-yet-identified genes involved in the synthesis of important secondary metabolites in this plant,” said a press release issued by CSIR. The release further stated that the breakthrough will eventually increase the utility of basil in the medical industry by revolutionizing the development of molecular tools that will also accelerate molecular breeding.

For the research, scientists collected leaf tissues of basil from the experimental farm at the CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants based in Lucknow. After collecting the tissues, researchers isolated genomic DNA from the leaves of basil and analysed it carefully for its concentration and integrity.

Moreover, with 386 Mb, basil has the smallest nuclear genome in the family Lamiaceae.

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  • Monojit Bhattacharya

    Wonder how the ancient
    sages came to give so much importance to this plant. Was there many years of
    research behind Tulsi being declared as sacred? Once it was declared sacred by
    one sect, was its use shunned by the other sects?