Alkaloid accumulation in plants is activated in response to stress, is limited in distribution and specific alkaloid repertoires are variable across taxa. Rauvolfioideae (Apocynaceae, Gentianales) represents a major center of structural expansion in the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIAs) yielding thousands of unique molecules including highly valuable chemotherapeutics. The paucity of genome-level data for Apocynaceae precludes a deeper understanding of MIA pathway evolution hindering the elucidation of remaining pathway enzymes and the improvement of MIA availability in planta or in vitro. We sequenced the nuclear genome of Rhazya stricta (Apocynaceae, Rauvolfioideae) and present this high quality assembly in comparison with that of coffee (Rubiaceae, Coffea canephora, Gentianales) and others to investigate the evolution of genome-scale features. The annotated Rhazya genome was used to develop the community resource, RhaCyc, a metabolic pathway database. Gene family trees were constructed to identify homologs of MIA pathway genes and to examine their evolutionary history. We found that, unlike Coffea, the Rhazya lineage has experienced many structural rearrangements. Gene tree analyses suggest recent, lineage-specific expansion and diversification among homologs encoding MIA pathway genes in Gentianales and provide candidate sequences with the potential to close gaps in characterized pathways and support prospecting for new MIA production avenues.
Journal: Scientific reports