Arid and semi-arid regions :

Arid and semi arid lands occupy one third of the earth's surface. Indian arid zone occupies an area of about 0.3 million sq. km. 90 percent of which about 2,70,000 sq. km.) is confined to north west Indian covering most of Western Rajasthan, part of Gujrat and small portions of Punjab and Haryana. India with its vast expanse of wasteland unsuitable for agricultural production (nearly 180 million ha) could be considered for economically viable production of bio-fuels, medical and conservation and improvement of biodiversity work on bio-fuels was initiated around 20 years ago. Several of the plant diversely available in Rajasthan is endemic and of high medicinal value. Some of the plant species on threatened.

Bio-diesel production :

A recent World Bank report concluded that "Energy policies will need to be as concerned about the supply and use of bio-fuels as they are about modern fuels. (and) they must support ways to use bio-fuels more efficiently and in sustainable manner Although there is significant volume of bio-diesel already produced in Europe there are remaining risks showing down the further expansion to the target set by the European Commission to reach 5% market share in fuels by the year 2000.

Global scenario :

Out of 2,50,000 plant species only 10,000 or so have been exploited. At the global level, according to recent estimates by FAO the annual tropical deforestation rate for the decade 1981 to 1990 was about 15.4 million ha (Mha).

According to the latest data published in 1994, for the assessment period 1989-1991, the total area under forests in 64.01 Mha accounting for 19.5 percent of India's geographic area.

At present there is hardly 0.4 percent forest below 25 cm rainfall zone and 1.3 percent above 30 cm rainfall zone. There is rapid depletion of forest products and in order to provide alternative energy sources a change in needed in conventional forestry management.

The fact that nearly 90 percent of the worlds population will reside in developing countries by about 2050 probably implies that biomass energy will be with us forever unless there are drastic changes in the world energy trading pattern. However if these plants could find additional use in medicines also besides providing the bio fuel, the entire economics of biofuel production shall become viable proposition in different parts of the globe.

India with its varied climate soil and agro-ecology possesses immense plant diversity, with over 15,000 species of higher plants. Both our Indian civilization as well as our diverse tribal heritage have gone a long way in conserving the wild weedy species, native land races and primitive cultivars 9Fig. 1). The Indian gene center is endowed with rich flora especially with regard to several less known yet economically important plants, ca 160 cultivar species of economic plants, plus 56 species of lesser known cultivated food plants. Further there are ca 320 species of wild and weedy economic types 9Paroda 1979; Arora and Nayar, 1984; Kumar, 1998).

Utilization of biomass for bioenergy and medicine :

Use of biomass for energy, medicine and industry allows a significant quantity of hydrocarbons to be consumed without increasing the CO2 content of the atmosphere and thus makes a positive contribution to the Greenhouse effect and to the problems of "global change" as occurs in both industrialized and developing countries. Further the advantages from utilization of biomass include : liquid fuels produced from biomass contain so sulfur, thus avoiding SO2 emissions and also reducing emission of NOx. Improved agronomic practices well managed biomass plantations will also provide a basis for environmental improvement by helping to stabilize certain soils, avoiding desertification which is already occurring rapidly in tropical countries, Modern bioenergy technologies and biofuels are relatively benign from environmental view point and produce very little pollution if burned correctly and completely.

Natural resource :

A detailed survey on the weeds on wastelands yielded valuable data about the first colonizers. Total land area of Rajasthan is 3,42,239 sq. km out of which 45.25 percent is characterized as wasteland. Large portions of this land were productive at a given time and due to man made deforestation, cattle pressure, water and wind based soil erosion, improper water management, they have turned out to be wastelands. (Kotia and Kumar, 2001a). A large number of such weeds have the medicinal value. Out of the total weeds around 50 weeds having important medicinal values while other produce related compounds. These regions are rich in bio-diversity and weeds were collected from different regions of the developing wastelands. (Kotia and Kumar, 2001b)

A detailed survey was carried out in different parts of Rajasthan and some of the medicinally important plants of Rajasthan and listed by Ajanta and Kumar, (2001a). Some of the Medicinal plants found in wild in the forest of Rajasthan include :

Table 1. List of Medicinal plants of Rajasthan

Plants species : Local name

1. Asparagus racemosus satavari

2. chlorophytum arundinaceum Safed musli

3. Curculigo orchioides Kali Musali

4. Solanum surattense Kantkari

5. Boerhaavia diffusa Santhi,

6. Hamidesmus indicus anantmool

7. Sida cordifolia bala

8. Holarrhena antidysenterica Indrajo

9. Curcuma aromatica Vanhaldi

10. Oroxylum indicum Shyonaka

11. Balanites aegyptiaca hingot

12. Withania somnifera ashwagandha

13. Aegle marmelos Bael

14. Cassia fistula Amaltas

15. Gymnema sysvestre gudmar

16. Terminalia arjuna arjuna

17. Butea monosperma palas

18. Soymida febrifuga rohan

19. Woodfordia fruticosa dhavri

20. Tribulus terrestris gokhru

21. Pedalium murex badagokhru

22. Vitex negundo negad

23. Dyerophytum indicum chitral

24. Plumbago zeylanicum Chitrak

25. Plantago ovata Isabgol

26. Colocynthes vulgaris Indrayan

27. Adhathoda vasica ardusta

28. Allangium salvifolium aankol

29. Caesalpinnia bonducella tas

30. Jatropha curcas ratanjot

31. Eclipta alba bhringraj

32. Aloe barbadensis gwarpatha

33. Mucuna prutita Konch

34. Terminalia bellerica Baheda

35. Tamarindus indica imli

36. Azadirachta indica neem

37. Achyranthes aspera aandhijhara

38. Barleria cacrulea bajrandanti s

39. Barleria cristata Badradanti p

40. Barleria prinoitis bajradanti p.

41. Ocimum americanum bapchii

42. Centella asiatica brahmiduti

43. Datura metal Dhatura

44. convolvulus arvensis haranpadi

45. Evolvulus alsinoides shankhpushpi

46. Cassia occidentalis kasaundi

47. Urginea indica Kolikanda

48. Andrographis paniculata kalmegh

49. Helicteres ispara marophali

50. Tinospora cordifolia nimgiloy.

In addition to this some of the laticiferous with potential for bioenergy and ayurvedic use include the followings :

(I) Hydrocarbon yielding plants :

1. Euphorbia lathyris Linn.

2. Euphorbia tirucalli. Linn.

3. Euphorbia antisyphilitica Zucc.

4. Euphorbia caducifolia Haines.

5. Euphorbia neriifolia Linn.

6. Pedilanthus tithymalides Linn.

7. Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br.

8. Calotropis gigantea (Linn) R.Br.

(II) High molecular weight hydrocarbon yielding plants :

1. Parthenium argentatum Linn.

III) Non edible oil yielding plants :

Jatropha curcas.

Simmondsia chinenesis

IV) Short rotation energy plants :

Acacia tortilis; Holoptelia integrifolia; Parkinsonia aculeata; Cassia siamea; Al'bizzia lebbek; Acacia nilotica; Tecomella undulata; Prosopis juliflora; Pithocellobium

A large number of energy yielding desertic plants of India used in Ayurvedic system have great potential as Ayurvedic medicine. Negative environmental effects of current agricultural practices, such as emission of greenhouse gases, nutrient leaching, decreased soil fertility, and erosion, may be reduced when traditional annual food crops are replaced by dedicated perennial energy crops and medicinal plants. As they are able to grow and produce valuable products under dessert conditions they have great potential for covering the global desert areas into green belts leading to environmental improvement on one hand and providing valuable Ayurvedic crude drugs in addition to supplementing the bio-energy resources as renewable fuels. However detailed studies on their pharmacognostical characterization and determination of chemical products obtained from them are lacking. Some of the investigations indicated their potential use in Human immuno deficiency (HIV) diseases 9Hattori et al 19950. Such bio-energy plants have not been explored in depth. Here attempt shall be made to provide brief out look of the Indian scene and highlight some of the work being carried out at our place in Rajasthan along with the possible impact assessment for desertic plants for future research strategies.

Among the desert plants the value of Aloe vera (L.) was recognized more than 3000 years ago when the Egyptian and Greek civilizations used its extract for skin burns, cut and wounds on the skin surface and found that it had a wonderful healing effects on skin. It is claimed that even 3rd degree burn can be cured and healed by Aloe vera. The chemical compounds like Aloein, resins, mixture of polysaccharides containing pectic acid are present. Modern investigation indicate that extracts of Aloe vera act on the dead epithelial cells of skin, aiding their removal from the surface and stimulating the growth of new cells. Thus Aloe is providing to be a great gift of traditional medicine for protecting the smooth skin of human beings especially when radiation damage of human skin has assumed alarming situation due to stratospheric ozone depletion. Fresh juice of leaves are also used in liver and spleen troubles and also for eye troubles, found useful in X-ray burns, dermatitis, coetaneous and other skin disorders.

In India, Egypt and Sudan around 70 percent of the rural people use traditional medicine. Similar situation exists in a large number of developing countries. In India and China 60 percent of the people affected with cholera and malaria are treated with herbal medicines. In these countries the market for traditional medicines is US $ 500 million while Western type medicine account for only US $ 300. In Singapore 50 percent and in Australia 60 percent of population uses alternative medicine. Around 17,000 herbal products are registered in these countries. In Belgium 40 percent contemporary and 84 percent home medicines and 74 percent acupuncture medicine is utilized. In France 50 percent of the people take advantage of complementary medicine. In Germany 10,000 to 13,000 alternative medical practitioners are thriving well and 75 percent o[f them utilize complementary medicines. 77 percent of pain clinics utilize acupuncture. In UK 90 percent of complementary medical practitioners utilize osteopathy and acupuncture. In US where in 1990 only 30 percent of the people were utilizing complementary medicines in 1997 it grew to 40 percent.

Extant of natural habitats and vegetation

Biodiversity characterised&ecological . Complete list of the plant cover is required. These in need for their conservation to maintain essential ecological processes and life support system. It is important contribution to social or economic development. The objective of this study -

1. To enumerate the plant species adilleir distribute pattern including medicinal plant and their present status.

2. of stress resistant plant in through genetic manipulating if possible.

3. Abiolic factors responsible for their loss in habitat.

4. Antropogenic impact on aminated + vegetation.

5. Regeneration of vegetation through conservation strategies

Biotechnological approaches for conservation and improvement of biodiversity in the arid and semi arid region of Rajasthan state :

India is one of the 12 mega diversity centres in the world. Loss of biologically jila habitats in the main threat to the diversity in developing tropical countries. It is almaring to note that more than 50% of the national habitats are already destroyes in 45 out of 61 old world tropical countries. In India the route destruction recorded 80%. Excessive exploitation and habitat modification by human beings are readily recognised as major factors causing loss of biodiversity large industrial and commercial activities associated with global economy such as mining and dam construction with the object of immediate gains resulted in the depletion to a large improvement of economically important tree species of the arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan.

Origin of proposal : The diversity and extent of forests in the arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan is declining and yet the demand for wood world-wife, is expected to double by the century. The demand of forest resource is exceptional in India where the crisis created by explosion in population, increased agricultural activities and urbanisation have created a situation for rapid deforestation leading to degradation of land and destruction of habitats of several plant species. Plant biotechnology is playing a crucial role in ex-situ conservation of endangered species. In vitro propagation now enables a board range of species and potentially all species of higher plants to be cloned under highly controlled conditions. The natural regeneration of many plant species is limited by poor seed germination and lack of proper method for vegetative propagation.

The Indian Thar desert and the neighbouring Aravallis are two ecologically fragile systems of Rajasthan which harbour germplasm of several tree species. Some of the tree species which have been under pressure of indiscriminate exploitation include Acacia senegal, Zizyphus xylopyrus, Acacia catechu, Commiphora wightii, Prosopis cineraria, Wrightia tirctoria, Wrightia tomentosa, Emblica officinalis and several others.

Plan of Work :

Basic protocol for micropropagation of some of these species has been worked out in our laboratory viz. Acacia senegal, Acacia catechu, Zizyphus sps., Acacia leucophlora. It is proposed to follow the basic protocol in the following phases for further studies :

Phase 0 : Management of donar plant in field

Phase 1 : Sterile isolation of explant and establishment of cultures

Phase 2 : Shoot multiplication and elongation

Phase 3 : Rooting of in vitro raised shoots

Phase 4 : Hardening, acclimatization and transfer of plantlets in soil

Phase 5 : Testing of plantlets under greenhouse / field conditions

The protocols developed in laboratory must be tested at pilot scale to ascertain their viability. It is important that the plants produced in vitro should be successfully established in soil and their performance evaluated in comparison to conventionally raised plants for cost-benefit analysis and agronomic traits. Hence the protocol developed must be highly responsible and commercially feasible.


The present project proposal aims to concentrate on various aspects of scaling-up of protocols established for micropropagation of Acacia senegal, Acacia Ccatechu and Zizyphus sps. The growth performance of plants transferred in greenhouse and fields will be evaluated for their success. The investigation will help to standardize the condition leading to scaling-up production and their evaluation at various stages. It will establish a highly reproducible and commercially feasible protocol keeping in view the cost factor, for rapid multiplication for conservation and improvement of these economically important trees of the arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan.

1. Moder biotechnological tools will be developed and utilized in the study for the Isolation of nature Rhizobial isolates from the tree legunies, VAM fungi, phosphate solubilizing lacteria which are efficient against the extremes of environmental factors. Molecular characterisation of each of the above isolates, wing PCR amplification of 16 Sr. DNA gene techniques will also be carried out Development of biomoculants (Rhizobium, VAM fungi and phosphate solubilizers) their mass multiplication and selection of suitable carriers for prolonged establishment in the soil and providing tolerance to tree legumers against environmental extremes.

2. Development and utilization of modern bio-technology in relation to VAM fungi and associative and free living N2 fixing bacteria (Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Derkia etc.) for increased production of millets in arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan. Under this research plan screening, identification, molecular characterization, selection and next multiplication of efficient VAM fungi and free living associative N2 fixing bacteria will be taken up. Development of carrier based bioinoculants for their establishment in soil, necessary for sustainable production of millets.

3. Application of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRof important tree legumes and millets, their molecular characterization and their role in enhancement of growth, nodulation and N2 fixation.

Physiological biotechnological rhidisors medicinal

Details of research profile /plans for next 5 yrs.

Phytochemistry & Bioactives

1. To study metabolomics, specifically metabolites profiling, where the activity would be concerned with the investigation of the chemical processes especially non-peptide metabolite molecules occurring in living cells, tissue of plant at a particular physiological state.

2. The use of plant cell cultures to study natural products biosynthesis & the isolation of norel products with emphasis on bioactivities, high level production by biotransformation, and stimulation of growth and yield of end angered species.