Discovering Why Different Goji Berry Types Have Unique Health Compounds

Greg Howard
27th February, 2024

Discovering Why Different Goji Berry Types Have Unique Health Compounds

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

In the realm of traditional Chinese medicine, Lycium barbarum, commonly known as goji berry, stands out for its rich therapeutic properties. These small red berries are not only a staple in health food stores but also a subject of scientific intrigue due to their varying levels of active ingredients across different cultivars. The quality inconsistency among these cultivars has prompted researchers from Ningxia University to delve into the molecular world of Lycium barbarum to understand what drives these differences[1]. The study at hand is a pioneering effort to compare the molecular profiles of two Lycium barbarum cultivars, 'Ningqi No.1' and 'Qixin No.1', at different stages of fruit development. By analyzing the transcriptome, which is the set of all RNA molecules in one cell or a population of cells, the researchers could observe which genes are actively being expressed and how this changes over time. They also looked at the metabolome, which is the complete set of metabolites present within an organism, cell, or tissue, to see the actual compounds being produced. This dual approach yielded a treasure trove of data: nearly 800 million clean reads from the transcriptome and over a thousand differentially expressed metabolites in the mature fruits. These findings are significant because they highlight the specific genes and metabolites that differ between the two cultivars, providing clues as to why one might have more of a certain active ingredient than the other. Flavonoids, a group of natural substances with variable phenolic structures, are among the active ingredients in Lycium barbarum with known health benefits. Previous research has shown that flavonoids in Lycium chinense, a related species, increase during fruit development and are influenced by the activity of certain enzymes and genes[2]. The current study builds on this knowledge by identifying the specific genes and metabolites involved in flavonoid biosynthesis in Lycium barbarum. Similarly, another study on Salvia miltiorrhiza, a plant known for its rich flavonoid content, revealed the importance of certain genes and transporters in the accumulation and distribution of these compounds[3]. The Lycium barbarum research echoes these findings by pinpointing the genes that may regulate the biosynthesis and transport of flavonoids and other active ingredients. Moreover, the study on Cinnamomum longepaniculatum highlighted the role of light in influencing the secondary metabolism of leaves, affecting the production of flavonoids and other compounds[4]. This insight complements the Lycium barbarum study by suggesting environmental factors, alongside genetic ones, could impact the levels of active ingredients in plants. The researchers quantified the flavonoid, lignin, and carotenoid contents in the two cultivars across three developmental stages. Lignins are complex organic polymers that, together with flavonoids and carotenoids, contribute to the health-promoting properties of the berries. Understanding how these compounds accumulate provides valuable information for breeding programs aimed at enhancing the quality of Lycium barbarum fruits. The implications of this study are far-reaching. For cultivators and consumers alike, the ability to predict and influence the quality of goji berries could lead to more consistent and potent medicinal products. For scientists, the data serve as a foundation for further research into the genetic and environmental factors that shape the health benefits of these and other medicinal plants. In conclusion, the research from Ningxia University offers a molecular window into the complex world of Lycium barbarum. By unraveling the genetic and metabolic differences between cultivars, this study paves the way for improved cultivation techniques and the potential development of superior goji berry strains with enhanced therapeutic qualities.

BiotechGeneticsPlant Science


Main Study

1) Integrative transcriptome and metabolome analysis reveals the discrepancy in the accumulation of active ingredients between Lycium barbarum cultivars.

Published 26th February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Analysis of flavonoid metabolism during fruit development of Lycium chinense.

3) Biosynthetic regulatory network of flavonoid metabolites in stems and leaves of Salvia miltiorrhiza.

4) Transcriptome and metabolome reveal the accumulation of secondary metabolites in different varieties of Cinnamomum longepaniculatum.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙