The giant milkweed (Calotropis gigantea) is a large dicotyledonous shrub native to Southern Asia including China, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, and Pakistan. The shrub produces clusters of lavender flowers that are pollinated by bees and butterflies. The flowers are important to Thai, Cambodian, and Indian cultures. The stem and leaves of the plant produce a milky white latex that contains cardiac glycosides such as calotropin, calactin, and calotoxin. These glycosides are of particular interest to researchers as they can be used as cardiac drugs. The cardenolides (cardiac-active steroid compounds) synthesized by this plant have shown anti-cancer and anti-malarial activity. The giant milkweed genome is diploid with a size of 157 Mb.
Hoopes, G. M., Hamilton, J. P., Kim, J., Zhao, D., Wiegert-Rininger, K., Crisovan, E., & Buell, C. R. (2018). Genome Assembly and Annotation of the Medicinal Plant Calotropis gigantea, a Producer of Anticancer and Antimalarial Cardenolides. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 8(2), 385-391.
Content written by Galyna Vakulenko Summer Intern 2018