Biotechnology and In Vitro Conservation of Medicinal Plants

Thangavel K.*, M. G. Ebbie, Ravichandran P.


Medicinal and aromatic plants have been intimately linked with human health and culture since time immemorial. Herbal medicines are products of plant secondary metabolism and are involved in various aspects of a plant’s interaction with its immediate environment. Besides all the progress in synthetic chemistry and biotechnology, plants are still an indispensable source of medicinal products of both preventive and curative nature. About 20,000 plant species are known to have worldwide use as drugs. Phytochemical tests have been performed in about 5000 and nearly 1110 species are extensively utilized in Ayurveda (80%) and Allopathic medicine (33%). Therefore, the conservation and sustainable utilization of medicinal plants must have a long term, integrated, scientifically oriented action programme. This should involve the pertinent aspects of protection, preservation, maintenance, conservation and sustainable utilization. Biotechnological tools are important to select, multiply and conserve the critical genotypes of medicinal plants. Plant cell tissue and organ culture system holds tremendous potential for the production of high quality plant based medicine in vitro. Elicitation, precursor feeding and genetic transformation are employed as potent tools for enhanced production of secondary metabolites. Recently, functional genomic strategies have been developed for differential gene expression analysis in plant cell culture towards production of designer secondary metabolites. This article reviews the achievements and advances in various tissue culture strategies for conservation of medicinal plants and for enhancement of secondary metabolite production in-vitro.


Medicinal plants; Herbal medicine in vitro; Genetic improvement; Functional genomics.

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