Scutellaria baicalensis is a well-known medicinal plant that produces biologically active flavonoids, such as baicalin, baicalein, and wogonin. Pharmacological studies have shown that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-cancer activities. Therefore, it is of great significance to investigate the genetic information of S. baicalensis, particularly the genes related to the biosynthetic pathways of these compounds. Here, we constructed the full-length transcriptome of S. baicalensis using a hybrid sequencing strategy and acquired 338,136 full-length sequences, accounting for 93.3% of the total reads. After the removal of redundancy and correction with Illumina short reads, 75,785 nonredundant transcripts were generated, among which approximately 98% were annotated with significant hits in the protein databases, and 11,135 sequences were classified as lncRNAs. Differentially expressed gene (DEG) analysis showed that most of the genes related to flavonoid biosynthesis were highly expressed in the roots, consistent with previous reports that the flavonoids were mainly synthesized and accumulated in the roots of S. baicalensis. By constructing unique transcription models, a total of 44,071 alternative splicing (AS) events were identified, with intron retention (IR) accounting for the highest proportion (44.5%). A total of 94 AS events were present in five key genes related to flavonoid biosynthesis, suggesting that AS may play important roles in the regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis in S. baicalensis. This study provided a large number of highly accurate full-length transcripts, which represents a valuable genetic resource for further research of the molecular biology of S. baicalensis, such as the development, breeding, and biosynthesis of active ingredients.
Keywords: Scutellaria baicalensis; alternative splicing; flavonoid; key genes; single-molecule real-time sequence.