The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) genome and the genomics of punicalagin biosynthesis

Plant J. 2017 Sep;91(6):1108-1128. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13625. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a perennial fruit crop grown since ancient times that has been planted worldwide and is known for its functional metabolites, particularly punicalagins. We have sequenced and assembled the pomegranate genome with 328 Mb anchored into nine pseudo-chromosomes and annotated 29 229 gene models. A Myrtales lineage-specific whole-genome duplication event was detected that occurred in the common ancestor before the divergence of pomegranate and Eucalyptus. Repetitive sequences accounted for 46.1% of the assembled genome. We found that the integument development gene INNER NO OUTER (INO) was under positive selection and potentially contributed to the development of the fleshy outer layer of the seed coat, an edible part of pomegranate fruit. The genes encoding the enzymes for synthesis and degradation of lignin, hemicelluloses and cellulose were also differentially expressed between soft- and hard-seeded varieties, reflecting differences in their accumulation in cultivars differing in seed hardness. Candidate genes for punicalagin biosynthesis were identified and their expression patterns indicated that gallic acid synthesis in tissues could follow different biochemical pathways. The genome sequence of pomegranate provides a valuable resource for the dissection of many biological and biochemical traits and also provides important insights for the acceleration of breeding. Elucidation of the biochemical pathway(s) involved in punicalagin biosynthesis could assist breeding efforts to increase production of this bioactive compound.

Keywords: adaption; genome; pomegranate; punicalagin biosynthesis; system evolution.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Genome, Plant / genetics*
  • Genomics*
  • Hydrolyzable Tannins / metabolism*
  • Lignin / metabolism
  • Lythraceae / genetics*
  • Lythraceae / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Hydrolyzable Tannins
  • punicalagin
  • Lignin