Major Achievements

Whole Genome Sequencing of Holy basil (Tulsi): Using modern biology tools to better understand traditional knowledge

CSIR has published whole genome sequence of Ocimum sanctum, the sacred plant of Hindu tradition. The nuclear genome of Holy basil is the smallest (386 Mb) in the family Lamiaceae while the chloroplast genome (142,245 bp) is the smallest in the order Lamiales. This is the first report of complete genome sequence of the Holy basil, using a composite next generation sequencing technologies. The whole genome sequencing of the species paves way to understand and further unravel its secrets so as to provide scientific validity to the traditional claims of its utility in diverse medicinal usage. All parts of this ancient herb such as dried leaf, dried seed, and dried whole plant are used in several systems of traditional medicine, including Ayurveda, Greek, Roman, Siddha, and Unani.

The availability of the genome sequence also opens the possibility to identify genes involved in producing therapeutic molecules and to produce them in vitro. This will also facilitate identification of not yet identified genes involved in the synthesis of important secondary metabolites in this plant. In addition, specific pathway related genes identified or mined in this genome could be used for the production of secondary metabolites following synthetic biology approaches.