The opium poppy genome and morphinan production

Science. 2018 Oct 19;362(6412):343-347. doi: 10.1126/science.aat4096. Epub 2018 Aug 30.


Morphinan-based painkillers are derived from opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.). We report a draft of the opium poppy genome, with 2.72 gigabases assembled into 11 chromosomes with contig N50 and scaffold N50 of 1.77 and 204 megabases, respectively. Synteny analysis suggests a whole-genome duplication at ~7.8 million years ago and ancient segmental or whole-genome duplication(s) that occurred before the Papaveraceae-Ranunculaceae divergence 110 million years ago. Syntenic blocks representative of phthalideisoquinoline and morphinan components of a benzylisoquinoline alkaloid cluster of 15 genes provide insight into how this cluster evolved. Paralog analysis identified P450 and oxidoreductase genes that combined to form the STORR gene fusion essential for morphinan biosynthesis in opium poppy. Thus, gene duplication, rearrangement, and fusion events have led to evolution of specialized metabolic products in opium poppy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzylisoquinolines / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Gene Fusion
  • Gene Order
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Morphinans / metabolism*
  • Multigene Family
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / genetics
  • Papaver / genetics*
  • Papaver / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Synteny


  • Benzylisoquinolines
  • Morphinans
  • Plant Proteins
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase