Complete genome sequence of Australian plant could revolutionize drug production

QUT, in collaboration with international researchers, has achieved a significant breakthrough with the Australian plant N. benthamiana. The plant’s genome sequence has been determined, offering potential for cost-effective and rapid production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines. This research, published in Nature Plants under the title “A multi-omic Nicotiana benthamiana resource for fundamental research and biotechnology,” highlights the plant’s importance in COVID-19 vaccine and testing kit production.

Professor Peter Waterhouse of QUT’s ARC Center of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature & Agriculture emphasized that, much like the human genome sequencing, decoding N. benthamiana’s genome could revolutionize biotechnology, agricultural research, and plant-based therapeutics.

To facilitate global scientific endeavors, a comprehensive website ( has been established, granting access to the genome and its annotations. N. benthamiana is renowned as a crucial tool for biopharming researchers, aiding in the cost-effective production of complex biologics with high yields and scalability.

This fully sequenced genome promises to enhance the plant’s utility and versatility, as well as that of its distant wild strain (QLD). Professor Chris Winefield from Lincoln University noted that the genome resource reveals insights into mobile elements, shedding light on the plant’s ability to thrive in harsh Australian conditions.

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