Golden Root: New Ways of Harvesting Nature’s Riches

[piano music] So this is a plant known as golden root. It is native to Tibet. We got some seeds, and it took three years for the pot to grow into this size. They grow extremely slowly. It is a very high-value medicinal plant. So if you go to Tibet, local people would make a tea out of the roots of this plant. Because of this value, it’s being illegally harvested in Tibet. We noticed there is a principal bioactive molecule in the roots known as salidroside. So we sequenced this plant, we isolated three genes underlying the biosynthesis of salidroside, and were able to construct a yeast cell to make exactly the same molecule. It used to be very expensive, but now we can make exactly the same molecule at a much cheaper price.

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