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Article|11 Feb 2022|OPEN
Chromosome-level genome assembly of Aristolochia contorta provides insights into the biosynthesis of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids and aristolochic acids
Xinyun Cui1 ,† , Fanqi Meng1 ,† , Xian Pan1 , Xiaoxiao Qiu1 , Sixuan Zhang1 , Caili Li1 , and Shanfa Lu,1 ,
1Medicinal Plant Cultivation Research Center, Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Haidian District, Beijing 100193, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,
Both authors contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 9,
Article number: uhac005 (2022)
Views: 413

Received: 10 Jun 2021
Accepted: 02 Dec 2021
Published online: 11 Feb 2022


Aristolochic acids (AAs) and their derivatives are present in multiple Aristolochiaceae species that have been or are being used as medicinal materials. During the past decades, AAs have received increasing attention because of their nephrotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Elimination of AAs from medicinal materials using biotechnological approaches is important for improving medication safety. However, it has not been achieved because of the limited information available on AA biosynthesis. Here, we report a high-quality, reference-grade genome assembly of the AA-containing vine Aristolochia contorta. The total size of the assembly is 209.27 Mb, and it is assembled into 7 pseudochromosomes. Synteny analysis, Ks distribution, and 4DTv suggest an absence of whole-genome duplication (WGD) events in Aristolochia contorta after the angiosperm-wide WGD. Based on genomic, transcriptomic, and metabolic data, pathways and candidate genes were proposed for benzylisoquinoline alkaloid (BIA) and AA biosynthesis in A. contorta. Five O-methyltransferase genes, including AcOMT1–3AcOMT5, and AcOMT7, were cloned and functionally characterized. The results provide a high-quality reference genome for AA-containing species of Aristolochiaceae. They lay a solid foundation for further elucidation of AA biosynthesis and regulation and for the molecular breeding of Aristolochiaceae medicinal materials.