, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 559-575
Date: 19 Feb 2011

Biotechnological interventions in sea buckthorn (Hippophae L.): current status and future prospects

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Sea buckthorn (Hippophae L., Elaeagnaceae) is an economically and ecologically important medicinal plant comprising of species which are winter hardy, dioecious, wind-pollinated multipurpose shrubs bearing yellow or orange berries with nitrogen-fixing ability. It grows widely in cold regions of Indian Himalayas, China, Russia, Europe and many other countries. It is commonly known as ‘cold desert gold’ due to its high potential as a bio-resource for land reclamation, reducing soil erosion and its multifarious uses. The wild populations are being used for harvesting economic benefits with negligible plantation efforts. Although this plant has many excellent traits, it is still in an early phase of domestication. This woody plant is prone to many pests and diseases which destroy the plants and halt its commercial production. Limited progress has been made for improvement of sea buckthorn through breeding programs due to long juvenile period and lack of QTL linkage map, which makes screening of mapping populations a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Conventional propagation methods, i.e. seeds, softwood and hardwood cuttings, and suckers are in place but are cumbersome and season dependent. Therefore, application of modern tools of biotechnology needs to be standardized for harnessing maximum benefits from this nutraceutical plant. Improvement of this genus through genetic transformation requires an efficient regeneration system, which is yet to be standardized. Taxonomic status of the genus is controversial and requires more inputs. Taxonomic delineation of species and subspecies and also the breeding programs can be more robustly addressed using molecular markers. This review summarizes the progress made and suggests some future directions of research for this important fruit species.