Diosgenin is an important raw material for the synthetis of cortisone and other steroid hormones. The groups of JIANG Huifeng and ZHANG Xueli at CAS Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology have sequenced the genome of Dioscorea zingiberensis and applied bioinformatics analysis to identify important gene clusters for diosgenin synthesis and analyze the biosynthetic pathway of diosgenin. Based in this information, they built a chimeric pathway by integrating genes from zebrafish, yeast, Veratrum, and Dioscorea. In the optimized yeast strain, conversion rate from cholesterol to diosgenin was 60%, and diosgenin yield reached 10 mg/l.

CAS news release, January 28, 2021

Jian Cheng et al., Plant Communications 2 (1): 100079 (2021)