Artemisia annua, commonly known as sweet wormwood or Qinghao, is a shrub native to China and has long been used for medicinal purposes. A. annua is now cultivated globally as the only natural source of a potent anti-malarial compound, artemisinin. Here, we report a high-quality draft assembly of the 1.74-gigabase genome of A. annua, which is highly heterozygous, rich in repetitive sequences, and contains 63 226 protein-coding genes, one of the largest numbers among the sequenced plant species. We found that, as one of a few sequenced genomes in the Asteraceae, the A. annua genome contains a large number of genes specific to this large angiosperm clade. Notably, the expansion and functional diversification of genes encoding enzymes involved in terpene biosynthesis are consistent with the evolution of the artemisinin biosynthetic pathway. We further revealed by transcriptome profiling that A. annua has evolved the sophisticated transcriptional regulatory networks underlying artemisinin biosynthesis. Based on comprehensive genomic and transcriptomic analyses we generated transgenic A. annua lines producing high levels of artemisinin, which are now ready for large-scale production and thereby will help meet the challenge of increasing global demand of artemisinin. Copyright © 2018 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Journal: Molecular plant