World’s biggest gene bank of medicinal plants to come up at CIMAP, Lucknow

Over 300 other spices and medicinal plants will have their genetic information profiled and saved at CSIR-CIMAP(Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants), Lucknow.

education Updated: Nov 30, 2018 12:34 IST
Chandan Kumar
Chandan Kumar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
gene bank,CIMAP,Central Institute f medicinal and aromatic plant
Representatives of member countries at training camp at CIMAP.(HT Photo)

Indian mint, Iranian saffron, Sri Lankan black pepper and mace from Indonesia, along with over 300 other spices and medicinal plants will have their genetic information profiled and saved at CSIR-CIMAP(Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants), Lucknow. Once established, it will be the biggest gene bank of medicinal and aromatic plants in the world.

These plants are native to the 23 countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The countries are represented by their consortium Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

The member countries have begun efforts to build the gene bank, with their first across the table training programme currently underway at the premier research institute located near Kukrail in the state capital.

Genetic bank refers to a collection of genetic information that is unique for all living species.

The programme titled, ‘Diversity, documentation, gene banking and database for medicinal plants’ is being attended by representatives of 11 IORA member countries.

“One of the primary objectives of the programme is to establish a detailed gene data bank of the medicinal plants that can be shared among the members countries,” said Prof Anil K Tripathi, Director, CSIR CIMAP.

The member countries have agreed to share their knowledge of medicinal and aromatic plants found in their respective countries. They have also agreed to submit genetic data of such plants, turning the endeavour into a one of its kind conservation effort by member countries. “The genetic data bank will not only help in conservation but also act as a source of information for future generations,” said Fereshteh Moradi, chief coordinator of the programme.

Dr Ajit K Shasany, head-convener of the programme said, “The gene data bank that can only be accessed by the member countries will also help to identify fake products sold in the black market.”

The programme is being organised by the science and technology transfer wing of IORA. The wing has chosen the CIMAP as one of its regional centres for science and technology transfer. The programme is being funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The members include countries of the gulf-Iran, Oman, UAE, Yemen- African sub continent, South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya- other south east Asian countries and Australia.

The programme also aims to make trade of these medicinal plants easier among the member countries. “Sharing knowledge and technology involved in harvest of these plants is also a part of the programme,” Shasany said. Elucidating further, he cited the example of the trade of saffron. “Iran is a leading exporter of safforn but the Iranian saffron in the Indian market comes via Europe where it is processed. This is set to change under this initiative,” he said.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 12:34 IST