Applications of phytochemical and in vitro techniques for reducing over-harvesting of medicinal and pesticidal plants and generating income for the rural poor
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- Sarasan, V., Kite, G.C., Sileshi, G.W. et al. Plant Cell Rep (2011) 30: 1163. doi:10.1007/s00299-011-1047-5
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Plants provide medicine and pest control resources for millions of poor people world-wide. Widespread harvesting of medicinal and pesticidal plants puts pressure on natural populations, thus severely compromising their contribution to the income and well-being of traders and consumers. The development of in vitro propagation techniques appropriate for developing countries will provide a robust platform for effective propagation and cultivation of endangered plants. This review focuses on advances in the application of phytochemical and in vitro tools to identify and rapidly propagate medicinal and pesticidal plants. Problems of over-harvesting can be alleviated and ex situ cultivation in agroforestry systems can be facilitated through improving seed germination, in vitro cloning and the use of mycorrhizal fungi. We also present a case for effective use of phytochemical analyses for the accurate identification of elite materials from wild stands and validation of the desired quality in order to counter loss of efficacy in the long run through selection, propagation or ex situ management in agroforestry systems. Future prospects are discussed in the context of medicinal activity screening, sustainable propagation, on-farm planting, management and utilization.