Science Unlocks Secrets of Opium Poppy

GreenTracker| Scientists have discovered the genetic structure that allows the opium poppy to make codeine and morphine, fascilitating alternate methods of producing effective painkillers in the lab or controlling the production of these compounds in the plant.

Jillian Hagel, a post-doctoral scientist in University of Cagary’s biochemist Peter Facchini’s lab, was assigned the task of finding these key poppy plant genes as part of her Ph.D. research. Using leading-edge genomics techniques that helped her sort through up to 23,000 different genes and ultimately find a gene called codeine O-dementhylase (CODM), Hagel discovered the plant enzyme responsible for converting codeine into morphine.

Facchini adds: “The evolution of these two genes in a single plant species has had such a huge impact on humanity over the past several thousand years. Our discovery allows this unique genetic power to be harnessed in many important ways.” via Science Daily Unlocking the opium poppy’s biggest secret