PLANT RESEARCH

Nepal has rich floral biodiversity. Unfortunately, much of our understanding of this diversity is unknown. CMDN/INPL undertook Nepal’s first ever plant bar-coding project as per the initiative of Department of Plant Resources (DPR)/ MoFSC to assist in identifying important floral species of Nepal. We have already DNA barcoded several species of medicinally important plants in Nepal, and plans are afloat to include others.

Nepal has enormous diversity of flora and fauna within its relatively small geographical area. There are around 7000 vascular and 2000 medicinal plant varities present in Nepal (Shrestha and Shrestha 1999). Taxonomic identification and genetic characterization of medical plants are very important for conservation, bio-inventory cataloging and national patenting for intellectual property claims. DNA barcoding is a recent, popular and widely used molecular-based identification system for precise taxonomic characterization of biological specimens.

DNA barcoding uses short, standardized DNA sequences (400-800 bp) of species, both flora and fauna, to determine its identity . Standardized segments used for DNA Barcoding have discernable sequences for individual species discrimination; and are variability for identifying inter-species specific diversities (Savolainen et al., 2005). DNA barcoding for flora involves nucleotide sequencing of 3-4 specific regions of Chloroplast DNA (and/or nuclear DNA) from plant (frezal and leblois, 2008).

We have carried out DNA Barcoding based characterization of two plants from Nepal - Asparagus racemosus (Satawari/Kurilo) and Choerospondias axillaris (Lapsi).