Researchers from Skoltech and their colleagues from A. A. Kharkevich Institute for Information Transmission Problems of RAS investigated the complete genome of Sosnowsky’s hogweed and assembled it up to the chromosome level. Using the DNA sequencer, the team obtained data on the plant’s genome and marked individual genes, which, unexpectedly, turned out to be too many: 55,000 as opposed to 25,000-35,000 in most other plants. Having proposed and verified several possible hypotheses, the researchers discovered that numerous gene duplications (copies) are responsible for this phenomenon.
“This is rather unusual, since plants typically have duplications all over their genome and not just in its individual parts. Many gene families with a sharp increase in the number of genes in Sosnowsky’s hogweed appear as a result of the synthesis of secondary metabolites, including linear furanocoumarins (psoralen and its derivatives), which make hogweed highly dangerous,” Maria Logacheva, an assistant professor from the Bio Center and a project team member, explains.