The Intellect Tree

Celastrus paniculatus As the World starts to run out of effect­ive, afford­able medi­cines, nat­ural com­punds are likely to become of increas­ing import­antce in future. In the last few days we have seeen poropsals to mine the seabed for new anti­bi­ot­ics, but his­tor­ic­ally, plant com­pounds have always been our major source of medicine.

Writing in AoB PLANTS, Phulwaria et al describe a new pro­tocol for micro­p­ropaga­tion of Celastrus pan­icu­latus, an import­ant medi­cinal plant in India. Known as “the intel­lect tree”, Celastrus pan­icu­latus is a climb­ing shrub found through­out India. As with many medi­cinal plants, this spe­cies has been over-exploited and is under threat.

The seeds of the pant con­tain fatty acids and alkal­oids, and have sed­at­ive and anti­de­press­ant actions. But they are dif­fi­cult to ger­min­ate and grow­ing C. pan­icu­latus is tricky. The method described in this new paper could be employed for large-scale mul­ti­plic­a­tion of C. pan­icu­latus, and res­ult­ing com­mer­cial applic­a­tions could bring fin­an­cial as well as health care bene­fits to devel­op­ing coun­tries where they are urgently needed.


Phulwaria, M., Rai, M.K., Patel, A.K., Kataria, V., and Shekhawat, N.S. (2013) A genet­ic­ally stable root­ing pro­tocol for propagat­ing a threatened medi­cinal plant-Celastrus pan­icu­latus. AoB Plants. 5: pls054 doi: 10.1093/aobpla/pls054
Celastrus pan­icu­latus, belong­ing to the fam­ily Celastraceae, is an import­ant medi­cinal plant of India. Owing to the ever-increasing demand from the phar­ma­ceut­ical industry, the spe­cies is being over­ex­ploited, thereby threat­en­ing its stock in the wild. Poor seed viab­il­ity coupled with low ger­min­a­tion restricts its propaga­tion through sexual means. Thus, altern­at­ive approaches such as in vitro tech­niques are highly desir­able for large-scale propaga­tion of this medi­cin­ally import­ant plant. Nodal seg­ments, obtained from a 12-year-old mature plant, were used as explants for mul­tiple shoot induc­tion. Shoot mul­ti­plic­a­tion was achieved by repeated trans­fer of mother explants and sub­cul­tur­ing of in vitro pro­duced shoot clumps on Murashige and Skoog’s (MS) medium sup­ple­men­ted with vari­ous con­cen­tra­tions of 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) alone or in com­bin­a­tion with auxin (indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) or α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA)). The max­imum num­ber of shoots (47.75 ± 2.58) was observed on MS medium sup­ple­men­ted with BAP (0.5 mg L−1) and IAA (0.1 mg L−1). In vitro raised shoots were rooted under ex vitro con­di­tions after treat­ing them with indole-3-butyric acid (300 mg L−1) for 3 min. Over 95 % of plant­lets accli­mat­ized suc­cess­fully. The genetic fidel­ity of the regen­er­ated plants was assessed using ran­dom amp­li­fied poly­morphic DNA. No poly­morph­ism was detec­ted in regen­er­ated plants and the mother plant, reveal­ing the genetic fidel­ity of the in vitro raised plant­lets. The pro­tocol dis­cussed could be effect­ively employed for large-scale mul­ti­plic­a­tion of C. pan­icu­latus. Its com­mer­cial applic­a­tion could be real­ized for the large-scale mul­ti­plic­a­tion and sup­ply to the State Forest Department.



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