Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 295-313

First online:

Integration of deep transcript and targeted metabolite profiles for eight cultivars of opium poppy

  • Isabel Desgagné-PenixAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary
  • , Scott C. FarrowAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary
  • , Dustin CramAffiliated withNational Research Council-Plant Biotechnology Institute
  • , Jacek NowakAffiliated withNational Research Council-Plant Biotechnology Institute
  • , Peter J. FacchiniAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary Email author 

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Recent advances in DNA sequencing technology and analytical mass spectrometry are providing unprecedented opportunities to develop the functional genomics resources required to investigate complex biological processes in non-model plants. Opium poppy produces a wide variety of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs), including the pharmaceutical compounds codeine, morphine, noscapine and papaverine. A functional genomics platform to identify novel BIA biosynthetic and regulatory genes in opium poppy has been established based on the differential metabolite profile of eight selected cultivars. Stem cDNA libraries from each of the eight opium poppy cultivars were subjected to 454 pyrosequencing and searchable expressed sequence tag databases were created from the assembled reads. These deep and integrated metabolite and transcript databases provide a nearly complete representation of the genetic and metabolic variances responsible for the differential occurrence of specific BIAs in each cultivar as demonstrated using the biochemically well characterized pathway from tyrosine to morphine. Similar correlations between the occurrence of specific transcripts and alkaloids effectively reveals candidate genes encoding uncharacterized biosynthetic enzymes as shown using cytochromes P450 potentially involved in the formation of papaverine and noscapine.


454 Pyrosequencing Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids Opium poppy Metabolite profiling Transcriptomics