Understanding the Leaf
Great taste starts with leaf
PureCircle researchers have been hard at work to understand the connection between what is in the leaf and great tasting stevia. High yields, desired quality traits and dependable economic returns are key characteristics often researched of any domesticated commercial crop.
Investing in Stevia Genome Research
Although systematic cultivation of Stevia started in the 1970s in China, South America and Japan, only recent crop improvement efforts have been focused on making Stevia more scalable with the most sugar-like steviol glycosides through traditional cross breeding. To facilitate this, we have invested in research that sequenced, generated genome assemblies, and fully annotated the genomes of three commercial Stevia varieties with improved levels of the better tasting, more sugar-like minor rebaudiosides.
Results & Key Findings
From this research, we know have data that has been integrated into a comprehensive bioinformatics platform for visualization and analytics of all available genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic Stevia datasets. This interface will enable specialists from multiple disciplines, such as chemists, biochemists and geneticists, to mine this platform to understand and improve existing steviol glycoside biosynthesis pathways through traditional breeding or discover new pathways or compounds for similar non-GMO improvement.
Our study focused on the assembly of the genomes of three Stevia varieties, which are all comparable to other published high quality genomes of the Asteraceae. There appears to be expansion of the UGT family of enzymes, which play a critical role in the production of steviol glycosides; this expansion might help explain the diverse set of steviol glycosides found in Stevia. In addition to enabling the improvement of traditional breeding for agronomic and sustainability benefits, this new knowledge of the Stevia genome can facilitate improvements in the abundance of the steviol glycosides that are more sugar-like in taste, thus enabling the development of high-purity Stevia leaf extracts for deeper reductions in sugar and calories in food and beverage products.