Corymbia genome expands terpene synthesis knowledge

phys.org | 8/14/2018 | Staff
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Genome annotations of two C. citriodora subspecies broaden understanding of the terpene synthase gene family across eucalypt lineages.

From the distinct smell of eucalyptus to the flavor of wine, terpenes are ubiquitous. A diverse group of plant-produced organic compounds, terpenes play key roles in plant growth, defense, and environmental interactions. Terpenes are also economically important because of their use in industrial materials, pharmaceutical products, and as biofuel precursors. Collectively, hundreds of terpene compounds have been characterized from eucalypts, a group of 900 tree species belonging to the Myrtaceae (myrtle) family and containing the closely-related genera Angophora, Corymbia and Eucalyptus.

Genus - Corymbia - Australia - Countries - Oil

The genus Corymbia is endemic to northern Australia but is increasingly farmed in other countries for essential oil production. The recent assembly of two Corymbia citriodora subspecies variegata genomes allowed researchers to study the conservation and evolution of the genes responsible for terpene synthase (TPS) enzyme production. This family of enzymes is critical to the synthesis and broad diversity of terpenes. Until recently, studies of the TPS gene family were confined to two Eucalyptus species, E. grandis and E. globulus. The annotation of two C. citriodora subspecies provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the conservation and evolution of this important gene family across eucalypt lineages. Since terpenes serve as feedstocks for biofuel production, a greater understanding of terpene synthesis in plants will be important for alternative fuel development in the future.

Though the closely-related Eucalyptus and Corymbia species number among the eucalypts, they inhabit different environments. Eucalyptus species prefer cooler, more temperate or sub-tropical environments, while Corymbia are more abundant in the drier parts of Australia with lower quality soils and even in the desert areas with poor rainfall. That said, Corymbia can also thrive in areas that receive a lot of rain. Previous analysis of the E. grandis reference genome, an international effort...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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