BIOTECHNOLOGICAL APPROACH FOR MEDICINAL PLANT CONSERVATION AND ENHANCED PRODUCTION OF SECONDARY METABOLITESAbstract
Growing awareness and interest towards traditional health care system coupled with phenomenal increase in demand and trade of medicinal plant has caused severe threat to the very existence of medicinal plants, which can be gauged from the fact that a number of important medicinal plants are becoming threatened or extinct, and an increasing number of species are being substituted in herbal preparations. There is, therefore, a need to strike a balance between conservation and use. It is imperative to evolve viable strategies to conserve the surviving populations and their genetic resource of critically important species to avoid further loss. Further, spurt demand for herbal drugs has led to renewed interest in screening plants for novel biologically active compounds particularly to combat such ailments which have defied synthetics drugs. The herbal sector is under constant pressure to develop and deliver effective natural drugs. Phytochemical and pharmacological investigations have led to the isolation and characterization of a significant number of active molecules with versatile therapeutic efficacy. Biotechnology has emerged as the frontier tool for in-vitro production of pharmacologically active phytochemicals. The paper describes the potential and prospects of chemo-biotechnological approach to conservation of medicinal plants and enhanced production of phytopharmaceuticals.