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Climber Plants: Medicinal Importance and Conservation Strategies

Book Chapter

Ali M; Isah T; Dipti ; Mujib A

2015

Biotechnological strategies for the conservation of meicinal and ornamental climbers

101-138

Climbing plants are groups of plants that often show unique horticultural uses because of their beauty-imparting features. As the stems are weak these plants have evolved various climbing devices in order to support growth and development. This climbing habit is predominantly seen in angiosperms and some members of ferns and Gnetum is the only representative genus of gymnosperm. Several families such as Convolvulaceae Cucurbitaceae and Dioscoreaceae are exclusively climbers while over 50 species of families like Rubiaceae Fabaceae Calastraceae and Apocynaceae are also of climber types. Besides their aesthetic use the plants are of high medicinal value as almost all contain pharmaceutically active bio-compounds like michellamines A and B (anti-HIV properties) present in Ancistrocladus korupensis various saponins (Asparagus racemosus) diosgenin (Dioscorea deltoidea) colchicine (Gloriosa superba) cordifolioside A (Tinospora cordifolia) momordin (Momordica balsamina) protoberberine syringin shatavarin I–IV asparagine aglycones etc. Many of these plants are widely used in folk and traditional medicines. The prevalence of diseases and high cost of modern Medicare coupled with increasing load of human population across the globe have resulted in overexploitation of plants/climbers with extinction possibilities. A large number of plants including the above have already been endangered. Therefore a balanced approach is needed in order to preserve germplasm of climbers for future uses. The application of biotechnological interventions and ex situ conservation approaches like in vitro cryopreservation and setting/strengthening germplasm or seed banks have opened a new vista for preservation of climbers. In this chapter the history distribution and medicinal applications of select climbers have been discussed. Different conservation strategies have also been described in climbers keeping various challenges in mind to its success.

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