Conservation and Sustainable Utilization

Podophyllum hexandrum  valued for Podophyllotoxin has been over exploited and population in natural forest is dwindling fast. Regeneration is slow both from seed and rhizomes. Further, seed dormancy is a critical problem which limits its large scale propagation. However, after years of studies, IHBT has developed a novel protocol (patented) to enhance the seed germination rate and now a large number of plantlets have been raised in the Institute and planting material is available. Several accessions of P. hexandrum are being maintained and chemical characterization are being done from the domesticated biotypes. Morphological and molecular studies are underway to understand the mechanism of seed germination.  Microanalytical technique has been developed to estimate podophyllotoxin from as low as 2 mg of plant material.

Picrorhiza kurroa valued for picosides is used for in preparation of several drugs. Institute has collected several accessions from different agroclimatic zone of HP and maintaining them in the farm under controlled condition. The plant has been successfully domesticated under Palampur condition. The chemical characterization of these accessions have also been carried out. A tissue culture protocol has been developed. Work is also being carried out to understand the regulation of picroside biosynthesis.

Aconitum heterophyllum  is in the brink of extinction due to over exploitation. Similar to the other high altitude plants, seed germination is an inherent problem. But, Institute overcame the problem by treating the seeds with hot water and GA3. The plant has now been successfully domesticated under ex situ conditions (green house and open). Efforts are under way for cryopreservation of the seeds.  

Efforts are underway for conservation of Ginkgo biloba, the living fossil. About 23 accessions collected from different part of India  is being maintained at IHBT. Planting material of Ginkgo is being generated with the aim to create critical area under its plantation in the western Himalayan region. Currently, Institute has about 1 acre crop of Ginkgo within its campus, which is the first of its kind in India.  Large number of plantlets have been supplied to foresters for its conservation. Work is underway to understand the genetic diversity. Also, chemical characterization has been carried out for ginkgolides and bilobalide.

Salvia sclarea is valued for scareol having antimicrobial properties. Domestication and performance evaluation is being conducted by the Institute.  

Extensive work is being done for developing an agrotechnology package of large cardamom suitable to agroclimatic conditions of HP.

Crocus sativus commonly referred to as saffron is a highly valued spice. Jammu & Kashmir is the only state which produces saffron at commercial scale. IHBT is focusing on production of commercial size corm production.

Arnebia euchroma  has  largely been  exploited for extraction of the unique red colour from its roots. Institute has standardized tissue culture protocol for raising elite plants. Also, elite cell lines for higher cell growth and red pigment production have been isolated and are being maintained under appropriate conditions. Further, conditions are being standardized for production of red colour employing cell suspension culture in bioreactor. Work is also being done to identify the genes involved in the  shikonin biosynthesis.

Valeriana jatamansi  is highly valued for valepotriateAfter years of domestication and studies, Institute has released a variety HIMBALA. Based on the leaf morphology six morphotypes have been identified. 

Hedychium spicatum  posses antiseptic properties and used in the treatment of asthma . Institute has successfully domesticated this plant and carried out sustained studies resulting in development of a variety HIMKACHRI

Curcuma aromatica known for its anti microbial, anti inflammatory and mosquito repellent properties grows in wild, but IHBT has domesticated the crop and released new variety HIMHALDI.

Planting material of certain important plant species such as Taxus baccata, Valeriana jatamansi, Hedychium spicatum, Curcuma aromatica, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum hexandrum have been generated and planted in their natural habitat.