Genome structure and evolutionary history of frankincense producing Boswellia sacra

iScience. 2022 Jun 10;25(7):104574. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104574. eCollection 2022 Jul 15.


Boswellia sacra Flueck (family Burseraceae) tree is wounded to produce frankincense. We report its de novo assembled genome (667.8 Mb) comprising 18,564 high-confidence protein-encoding genes. Comparing conserved single-copy genes across eudicots suggest >97% gene space assembly of B. sacra genome. Evolutionary history shows B. sacra gene-duplications derived from recent paralogous events and retained from ancient hexaploidy shared with other eudicots. The genome indicated a major expansion of Gypsy retroelements in last 2 million years. The B. sacra genetic diversity showed four clades intermixed with a primary genotype-dominating most resin-productive trees. Further, the stem transcriptome revealed that wounding concurrently activates phytohormones signaling, cell wall fortification, and resin terpenoid biosynthesis pathways leading to the synthesis of boswellic acid-a key chemotaxonomic marker of Boswellia. The sequence datasets reported here will serve as a foundation to investigate the genetic determinants of frankincense and other resin-producing species in Burseraceae.

Keywords: Evolutionary biology; Genomics; Plant biology.