Multi-Institutional Species Recovery Project funded by DBT
Micropropagation & digital microimaging facility at Botany Department, MCC

Brief Note

Endemic species are prone to extinction much faster than other species due to various factors that influence the process of extinction. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a total of 318 species have been declared extinct in the world of which 19 are from India. From the state of Tamil Nadu there are 4 species recorded as extinct namely Claoxylon wightii Hook.f. var. angustatum Susila & Balakrishnan, Derris brevipes Baker var. travencorensis Thoth., Lasianthus obovatus Bedd., and Marsdenia tirunelvelica A.N. Henry & Subram. Endemic species are restricted to a geographical location or region. Loss and fragmentation of habitats has remained a severe threat for the survival of all the endemic species. Absence or paucity of pollinators and seed dispersal agents in the fast changing habitat has made the endemic species genetically vulnerable. As a result several conservation organizations are focusing their efforts in saving the endemic and endangered species.

One of the programmes that look into the conservation of endemic and endangered plants, especially trees, is the Species Recovery programme launched across the globe. This programme is designed to propagate the endemic and endangered plants in an exsitu condition and putting the saplings or plantlets back into their habitats as part of insitu conservation. A number of species in India have been taken up in India for recovery. The idea of this recovery programme is to slowly move out the endemic and endangered species from the red list category. A successful example of the species recovery programme is the rediscovery and subsequent multiplication of Hubbardia heptaneuron, a grass that was supposedly extinct. The multiplied grasslets and grasslings have been in introduced successfully in its type locality as well as in other habitats similar to type locality. The grasslings and grasslets have shown a remarkable establishment. Department of Biotechnology (DBT), New Delhi is funding such species recovery programmes for the past five years and encouraging institutions in India to participate in a collaborative manner towards the mission of saving the endemic trees.

Madras Christian College in collaboration with Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram and the American College, Madurai has taken up two critically endangered Syzygium species from the southern Western Ghats for multiplication and reintroduction. S. gambleanum is restricted to Southern Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. It is popularly called as neervanji by Kani tribe and is represented by a total of 110 trees in the entire world. These 110 trees are distributed in fragmented populations restricted to about 0.03km2. This species has flowered only once in the last 10 years and has a very poor fruit setting. This tree has high ornamental potential as well as a fine clove-like aroma. Multiplication by micropropagation and by cutting and layering is the only solution to save this tree. Similarly the other Syzygium called S. rama-varmae, named after the popular Travancore King Ramavarma, is also represented by a critically low population of 115 trees in the entire world restricted to about 0.05km2. This tree is popularly called by the Kani tribe as manikilluki.

This project aims at producing 1000 saplings of each of these species both by vegetative and micropropagation methods for insitu and exsitu conservation, mapping them using global positioning systems, carry out genetic study to understand variations and to bioprospect.  The base data for these two species originates from an earlier UGC project on ‘Endemic and Threatened Trees of Western Ghats of Kanyakumari District: Biology, Population and Mapping‘. In this project seven endemic species have been studied in detail. The population of these species were mapped; total stems were counted along with studies on their anatomy and histochemistry. The background information generated in the UGC project will help a great way in identification of localities for reintroduction.

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Research Group Meet Microscope Inspection Inaguration Photos
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Plant Growth Chamber Laninar Air Flow Unit Autoclave
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Microscope Microtome Hot Air Oven
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Electronic Balance pH Meter Stove
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