Conservation Biotechnology

The division has initiated R & D in this area in 1986 and successfully demonstrated embryo / tissue culture protocols for the endangered blue vanda (Vanda coerula) of the Eastern Himalayas during the same year. Subsequently, the division has developed various in vitro culture methods such as embryo, meristem, root and pollen / anther cultures for the endangered taxa. Micropropagation protocols have been developed for about 40 medicinal and aromatic plants including tree species, 35 wild orchid species of the Western Ghats, agroforesry species which includes rattans, bamboos and wild banana and successfully conserved the species. The cryopreservation facility was established in 1993 and currently more than 30 plant species endemic to the Western Ghats have been maintained via various cryopreservation techniques. Eco-restoration programme was started in 1990 and reintroduced thousands of micropropagated orchids, rattans, bamboos and medicinal plants into the native habitat.


The major ongoing R & D programmes:

We are one of the four National Gene Banks established in the country. Achievements include standardization of cryopreservation techniques for a dozen species including Holostemma annulare, analysis of intraspecific variations in selected species (Costus speciosus, Anaphyllum wightii) and development of seed and meristem banks.

Ex-situ conservation through micropropagation of rare and endangered botanicals

Endemic, threatened and economic species of medicinal plants successfully multiplied through shoot tip/ nodal explant cultures are presented below.

  1. Withania somnifera Dun.
  2. Aristolochia tagala Cham.
  3. Kaempferia galanga L.
  4. Piper longum L.
  5. Kaempferia rotunda L.
  6. Piper hapnium B. Ham.
  7. Sida rhombifolia L.
  8. Piper barberi Gamb.
  9. Gloriosa superba L.
  10. Piper trichostachyon Cas. DC
  11. Adahatoda beddomei C.B. Clark
  12. Crataeva magna ( Lour.) DC
  13. Woodfordia fruticosa Kurz.
  14. Geophila reniformis D.Don
  15. Trichopus zeylanicus Garten. Var. travancoricus
  16. Utleria salicifolia Bedd. ex Hook. F
  17. Rauwolfia beddomei Hook. f.
  18. Blepharistemma membranifolia ( Miq.) Ding Hou
  19. Rauwolfia micrantha Hook. f.
  20. Celastrus paniculatus Willd
  21. Plumbago rosea L.
  22. Morinda umbellata Linn.
  23. Hemidesmus indicus R. Br.
  24. Aegle marmelos ( L.) Corr
  25. Decalepis arayalpathra Joseph & Chandra
  26. Ophiorrhiza mungo L.
  27. Holostemma annulare ( Roxb.) .K. Schum
  28. Nothapodites foetida (Wight.) Sleumer.
  29. Baliospermum montanum M. Arg

All the species were successfully multiplied and 8 species reintroduced back into the natural habitats with 55-92% success rate. 



Orchids were the first to be multiplied for horticultural and conservation purposes in the Institute. The species of orchids from the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas successfully multiplied through embryo and tissue culture are presented below. Some of the epiphytic and terrestrial orchids were reestablished at Ponmudi hills at 72-98% rate.

  1. Acanthephippium bicolor Lindl
  2. Aerides crispa Lindl
  3. Anoectochilus elatus Lindl
  4. Anoectochilus regalis Bl.
  5. Anoectochilus sikkimensis
  6. Calanthe triplicata ( Wille.) Amer
  7. Cymbidium eburnum
  8. Cymbidium elegans
  9. Cymbidium giganteum Wall
  10. Cymbidium muronianum
  11. Dendrobium aquem Lindl
  12. Dendrobium heterocarpum Lindl
  13. Dendrobium macrostachyum Lindl
  14. Eulohpia nuda Lindl
  15. Eulophia cullenii (Wight ) Bl.
  16. Habenaria crinifera Lindl
  17. Ipsea malabarica (Reichb. f.) Hook.f
  18. Nervilia aragoana Gaud
  19. Nervilia plicata (Andr.) Schltr
  20. Nervilia prainiana (King & Pantl.) Seidenf
  21. Paphiopedilum druryi (Bedd.) Stein
  22. Papilionanthe subulata (Koening) Garay
  23. Pecteilis gigantea (J.E. Sm.) Rafin
  24. Renanthera imschootiana Rolfe
  25. Rhyncostylis retusa (L.) Bl.
  26. Smithsonia maculata (Dalz.) Sald
  27. Taprobanea spathulata (L.) Christ
  28. Vanda coerulea Griff
  29. Vanda tessellata (Roxb.) Hook
  30. Vanilla andamanica


Development of packages for agro-forestry species

Both rattan palms and bamboos form an important and yet depleted resource of the Western Ghats. In vitro multiplication using meristem culture, hardening and field establishment packages were developed for selected threatened and economic rattan palms (Calamus nagabettai, C. travancoricus, C. thwaitesii). Multilocation trials at Thenmalai, Kulathuppuzha and Palode forest segments resulted in 80% and 96% reestablishment for C. tranvancoricus and C.thwaitesii respectively. Based on the packages developed, it is now proposed to go for extensive planting of the rattan palms through community participation. Among bamboos, Bambusa arundinacea shoot cultures flowered in vitro and continued to set seeds up to 12 months after transplantation into the mist house. It is possible to produce seeds en masse using the techniques developed.



  1. Calamus thwaitesi Becc 
  2. Calamus andamanicus Kurz
  3. Calamus brandisii Becc
  4. Calamus nagbettai Fer. & Deq
  5. Calamus rotang Linn
  6. Calamus hookerianus Becc
  7. Calamus travancoricus Bedd. ex Beccari & Hook.f



  1. Bambusa arundinacea ( Retz.) Willd
  2. Bambusa vulgaris
  3. Dendrocalamus strictus Nees
  4. Ochlandra travancorica Thw



Tree species

Certain important trees including the endemics and wild diploid bananas of south Western Ghats have also been successfully multiplied and established in the field. They are listed below.

  1. Stereospermum suaveolens DC
  2. Premna corymbosa
  3. Oroxylum indicum Vent
  4. Morinda reticulata
  5. Calophyllum apetalum Willd
  6. Aegle mermelos (L.) Corr
  7. Crataeva magna (Lour.) DC


Wild Banana

Conservation and evaluation of the native diploid banana and multiplication of the desirable genotypes for domestication and cultivation. Our long-term objective is to make use of the desirable attributes of the landraces and primitive cultivars for improvement of widely cultivated varieties through biotechnological means. Matti Chemmatti In vitro cloning protocols standardized for the diploid cultivars Matti, Chemmatti, Poonkalli, Rasakathali.










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