Integrated transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis of five panax ginseng cultivars reveals the dynamics of ginsenoside biosynthesis

Yun Sun Lee, Hyun Seung Park, Dong Kyu Lee, Murukarthick Jayakodi, Nam Hoon Kim, Hyun Jo Koo, Sang Choon Lee, Yeon Jeong Kim, Sung Won Kwon, Tae Jin Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer is a traditional medicinal herb that produces bioactive compounds such as ginsenosides. Here, we investigated the diversity of ginsenosides and related genes among five genetically fixed inbred ginseng cultivars (Chunpoong [CP], Cheongsun [CS], Gopoong [GO], Sunhyang [SH], and Sunun [SU]). To focus on the genetic diversity related to ginsenoside biosynthesis, we utilized in vitro cultured adventitious roots from the five cultivars grown under controlled environmental conditions. PCA loading plots based on secondary metabolite composition classified the five cultivars into three groups. We selected three cultivars (CS, SH, and SU) to represent the three groups and conducted further transcriptome and gas chromatographymass spectrometry analyses to identify genes and intermediates corresponding to the variation in ginsenosides among cultivars. We quantified ginsenoside contents from the three cultivars. SH had more than 12 times the total ginsenoside content of CS, with especially large differences in the levels of panaxadiol-type ginsenosides. The expression levels of genes encoding squalene epoxidase (SQE) and dammarenediol synthase (DDS) were also significantly lower in CS than SH and SU, which is consistent with the low levels of ginsenoside produced in this cultivar. Methyl jasmonate (MeJA) treatment increased the levels of panaxadiol-type ginsenosides up to 4-, 13-, and 31- fold in SH, SU, and CS, respectively. MeJA treatment also greatly increased the quantity of major intermediates and the expression of the underlying genes in the ginsenoside biosynthesis pathway; these intermediates included squalene, 2,3-oxidosqualene, and dammarenediol II, especially in CS, which had the lowest ginsenoside content under normal culture conditions. We conclude that SQE and DDS are the most important genetic factors for ginsenoside biosynthesis with diversity among ginseng cultivars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1048
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Jun 19 2017


  • Cultivars
  • Ginsenoside biosynthetic pathway
  • Metabolome
  • Panax ginseng
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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