The Russian dandelion Taraxacum kok-saghyz Rodin (TKS), a member of the Composite family and a potential alternative source of natural rubber (NR) and inulin, is an ideal model system for studying rubber biosynthesis. Here we present the draft genome of TKS, the first assembled NR-producing weed plant. The draft TKS genome assembly has a length of 1.29 Gb, containing 46,731 predicted protein-coding genes and 68.56% repeats, in which the LTR-RT elements predominantly contribute to the genome enlargement. We analyzed the heterozygous regions/genes, suggesting its possible involvement in inbreeding depression. Through comparative studies between rubber-producing and non-rubber-producing plants, we found that enzymes of the mevalonate (MVA) pathway and rubber elongation might be critical for rubber biosynthesis, and several key isoforms have been isolated showing predominantly expressed in the latex, indicating their crucial functions in rubber biosynthesis. Moreover, for two important families in rubber elongation, the CPT/CPTL and REF/SRPP families, diverse evolutionary tracks have been revealed. These results provide valuable resources and new insights into the mechanism of NR biosynthesis, and facilitate the development of alternative NR producing crops.
Journal: National science review