Genome-enabled discovery of anthraquinone biosynthesis in Senna tora

Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 18;11(1):5875. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19681-1.


Senna tora is a widely used medicinal plant. Its health benefits have been attributed to the large quantity of anthraquinones, but how they are made in plants remains a mystery. To identify the genes responsible for plant anthraquinone biosynthesis, we reveal the genome sequence of S. tora at the chromosome level with 526 Mb (96%) assembled into 13 chromosomes. Comparison among related plant species shows that a chalcone synthase-like (CHS-L) gene family has lineage-specifically and rapidly expanded in S. tora. Combining genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and biochemistry, we identify a CHS-L gene contributing to the biosynthesis of anthraquinones. The S. tora reference genome will accelerate the discovery of biologically active anthraquinone biosynthesis pathways in medicinal plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anthraquinones / chemistry
  • Anthraquinones / metabolism*
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Plant / metabolism
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Senna Plant / chemistry
  • Senna Plant / genetics
  • Senna Plant / metabolism*


  • Anthraquinones
  • Plant Proteins