Friday, 22 May 2015

International Biological Diversity Day 2015 : Plant Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations General Assembly, in December 2000, proclaimed 22 May as ‘The International Day for Biological Diversity’, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. Earlier December 29th was the date to observe International Day for Biological Diversity. However, it was difficult for many countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the date of 29 December, given the number of holidays that coincide around that time of year. Noting the recommendation of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its fifth meeting that the date of the International Day for Biological Diversity be changed to give it greater visibility, it was decided to proclaim 22 May, as the International Day for Biological Diversity henceforth.

At the Cost of Biodiversity, Development isn’t prerogative!

Deepika Sharma
BSc (H) 2nd year
Gargi College, University of Delhi
Email Id:

It is a rat race to get this label in the renowned surveys of the world. It is a race to be on the top of the corporate ladder. It is a quest to be called best economy and most developed. India is no far in this competition among other nations. We want to rise above from being called developing to the developed. But what is development in the true sense. Is it only about getting better points in sensex market, gross domestic product (GDP) or building so called world class infrastructure or empowering social structure of the society? Albeit these are important issues to be worked upon, yet we have sidelined one of the core responsibilities towards environment and ecosystem.


Department of Botany, Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribag-825319


Plants have been a source of food, medicine and Industrial raw material since time immemorial. India has been fortunate enough to have good biodiversity and diverse climatic condition. Scientists have always tried to increase productivity of plant based resources but ever increasing population is the major bottleneck in this direction. It is therefore necessary not only to increase productivity but to find out new avenue of natural resources. Plant scientists have felt that people now a day are converging towards very small number of species as natural resource. This on one hand leads to over exploitation of some selected plants and under exploitation of other. Both the situations are not desirable.

Jojoba is such one under exploited plant which needs proper attention both by scientists as well as by farmers. Jojoba (pronounced as Ho-Ho-Ba) is a native plant of South Africa and its botanical name is Simmondsia chinensis. Jojoba is a bisexual plant and flowers grow in clusters. The female flowers develop in winter season especially in months of December and January. It takes nearly four and half months for seeds to mature. The seeds are elongated, slightly spherical and pointed at the top. The seeds contained 45 to 55 percent essential oil. Average oil contained is about 50 percent. The oil contained of the seeds therefore is more than most of the oil seeds. The oil obtained from Jojoba seeds are variously used for different purposes. They are used as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, lubricant, food, insulator in electrical equipments, heating oil, fire retarder, raw material of plastics and transformer oil. It is important to note that chemical composition of Jojoba oil is very much similar to cod liver oil. The later are used as tonic. In present situation killing Shark for cod liver oil is strictly prohibited because there population is decreasing fast. Jojoba oil is a good alternative of cod liver oil and can be used as its substitute.

Plant Description
Jojoba is native to the semi-arid regions of south Arizona, California and Mexico, and is pronounced by the local people as Ho-Ho-Ba. The plant is a perennial shrub having woody stems. Jojoba is a relatively new entrant in the botanical world, although the aboriginal people of California used to cultivate and utilize its various products since long back. There is a popular story that once an unknown visitor asked the name of the oil a native North American was rubbing on his body, what the North American said sounded something like “Jojoba”, which was repeated and disseminated by the visitor.

Thus the plant assumed its popular name of “Jojoba”. The binomial nomenclature of this plant, is Simmondsia chinensis, was however resulting in error. Link, a botanist from U.K., was on a round- the- world trip to collect seeds and plants for the purpose of making a catalogue. He was scanning a bagful of seeds collected from china. By mistake, some seeds of Jojoba got mixed; hence he coined the specific name “chinensis”, though the plant is not found in china.

The Jojoba plant is a shrub or medium size tree which grows to a height of 2.5 meters to 3.0 meters. The stem has perfused branches which have a large number of leaves. Leaves are opposite decussate, a typical characteristic of xeric plants. Leaves are oval to lanceo late in shape and deep green in colour. The surface of a Jojoba leaf has a thick coat of waxy substance which reduces the rate of transpiration, thereby checking the loss of moisture. The root system is a well – developed taproot, which grows downwards to a depth of 15 meters and sometimes even more. The well –developed root system helps the plant to absorb water and minerals from deep down the earth. The fruit of the Jojoba plant is green is colour and is capsule in nature. Each fruit possess three seeds which are brown is colour, having wrinkled texture. Usually the plants start bearing fruits from the fourth year of its growth.

Jojoba products

The oil obtained from the Jojoba seed is different from the typical oil; in fact, it resembles an ester. Normally, vegetable oil has many alcohol groups and the molecule is usually forked. Ester, on the other hand, has only one alcohol, and the molecule is a straight chain. While conventional oil gets oxidized easily, esters work as antioxidants. Chemically, the Jojoba ester is almost identical to the spermaceti oil obtained from the head of a rather rare animal – the sperm whale. The product can be used as a lubricant, in cosmetic products, and in automobiles. The Jojoba ester also has a striking similarity with the oil secreted by the human skin. Hence, this ester can also be used for lubricating the skin and the hair.

Nutrients in Jojoba oil

The Jojoba oil contains approximately 65 percent poly unsaturated liquid wax. The product is also known for natural Vitamin E content. Vitamin E is well known antioxidant and is taken orally as anti aging agent. The oil is also applied on skin because it calms irritation. Jojoba oil is also a rich source of Vitamin B. Vitamin B has got property of retaining moisture. So when applied on skin, It protect its moisture. Accumulation of melanin pigment in skin is also retarded by application of Jojoba oil. Hence, it is used as skin protector from sun burn.

Vitamin E content is very light in Jojoba oil and its self life is also very long. Hence, chances of its decaying and losing its beneficial property during course of time are very low.

Exposure of skin to ultraviolet radiation present in sun light often leads to skin damage and development of wrinkles. Application of Jojoba oil delays wrinkling of skin because it contains a highly useful chemical ferulic acid. Ferulic acid absorbs ultraviolet rays and prevents oxidation damage of skin. In addition to Vitamins, Jojoba oil also contains some important minerals like silicon, chromium, zinc, copper etc. Reasonable amount of iodine has also been reported in Jojoba oil. Iodine is helpful in combating bacterial and fungal infection. Copper helps to keep the skin firm. Silicon keeps hair follicles smooth and strong. Jojoba oil is very much similar to natural oil produce by human skin. Hence, its use as skin care agent is natural. Tocopherol presence in Jojoba oil act as preservative.

Cultivation of Jojoba

Jojoba is a very hardy plant and it can sustain in extreme climatic condition. On one hand it can withstand as high as 50 centigrade temperature where as on the other hand it can easily tolerate low temperature of -50 centigrade. In that sense this plant can easily cultivated in waste land of our country. Area having 200 to 400 millimeter rainfall is suitable for Jojoba cultivation. For large scale commercial production rainfall of 500 to 600 millimeter is found to be most suitable. Water logging however is highly unfavorable for this plant. So the area prone to water logging is not favorable for mass scale cultivation of Jojoba. Sandy soil and Rocky areas are suitable for this plant. In that sense arid and semi arid regions like Gujarat and Rajasthan are highly suitable for large scale cultivation of Jojoba. pH of soil is an important factor for development of any plan. Jojoba however grows luxuriantly between pH range 5 to 8. The suitable requirement for Jojoba cultivation make it clear that this is a low demanding plant and the cost Incurred for Jojoba plantation is low as compare to the possible income from the of oil seed.

Germination however is a bottleneck and to remove it the seeds are not sown directly in the field. The seeds are first raised in the nursery and are later on transferred into the field. March and October are two important months during which Jojoba nursery can be grown. Normally 100 to 120 days old germ lings are Ideal for transplantation in field.

Polythine bags of 30x10 cm. since and of 300 gauge thickness are utilized for developing Jojoba seedlings. 10 to 12 holes are punctured in the lower half of polythine. So that extra water percolates out of the bag. The polythine bag is filled with sand and manure is 3:1 ratio. Attack of termites is a common problem and to check it 4 percent Indosulfan is mixed with feelings. Fresh and healthy seeds are sown in the bag. It is important to select the fresh seeds because its germination capacity is almost 90 percent. As the age advance, percentage of germination decreases. So using fresh seeds gives better result. Normally the seeds start germination after 10 days. Complete germination has been observed within 20 to 25 days. Atmospheric temperature however plays an important role in germination of Jojoba seeds. Low temperature often lower percent of seed germination. The seedlings grow at 30 to 35 C.M. heights after 6 months


                                                 Shakil D. Shaikh* and V. B. Chopade**
*Head, Department of Botany, Abasaheb Marathe Arts and New Commerce, Science College, Rajapur. Dist: Ratnagiri (MS-India)
 **Department of Botany, Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu College, Kolhapur (MS).
*corresponding author

India is a mega biodiversity country with about 17,000 species of vascular plants. More than 1200 species of fern and fern- allies have been reported from India. Within India, the Western Ghats, one of the hotspots of the world, possess a large extent of biodiversity. Besides the economic values, a large number of them are cultivated for their ornamental value either in indoors of the houses or outdoors in the botanical gardens due to their delicate beauty and grace. Ferns have got great aesthetic value for their elegant fronds and a large number of them are cultivated as ornamental plants in houses and botanic gardens. More than 40 potential ornamental and medicinally important ferns were listed in the present study and majority of them are suitable for indoor gardens. Five plants are best for rockeries. The ferns can grow well in such moist and shady conditions in the gardens where other plants usually cannot grow.    
Keywords: Ferns, medicinal and ornamental, aesthetic, conservation.

What is Biodiversity? Short film by Babul Films.

To commemorate International Day for Biological Diversity 2015, Indian Botanists invited articles, opinions, videos, short film etc. on The theme was selected in the similar line as announced by UNEP and the theme was, 'PLANT BIODIVERSTY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT’.

Babul Films released a short film, explaining, what is biodiversity? The same was shared with Indian Botanists. We are pleased to publish the video here, on the occasion of International Biodiversity Day 2015. 'Engaging kids in the film is a great tool for awareness', mentioned Babul Films in tweet to Indian Botanists.

Indian Botanists congratulates 'Babul Films' and  the child actors in the video and encourages them for more such assignments. This video will also inspire many plant lovers, professional botanists to make such short films to explain the issue in a more effective way.

Enjoy the video,

Lichens: The Natural Bio-Indicator of Air Pollution

Ajay Kumar Gautam
Department of Botany,
 Abhilashi Institute of Life Sciences,
Mandi-175008 (H.P.) India.

Lichen, a unique symbiotic association between an alga and a fungus, where algal component is called phycobiont or photobiont while fungus as mycobiont. These are the composite organisms which have an ability to colonize on a variety of substrates including rock, soil, trees and man–made structures in diverse environmental conditions. They occur in all possible environmental habitats of the world, but are diverse in tropical region and luxuriant in temperate-alpine areas. These along with mosses form dominant organism in ecosystem covering over 10 % of the earth's terrestrial habitat (Nash and Egan 1988; Hawksworth 2001).

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bio Innovation Centre Inaugurated at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Tiruvananthapuram

Bio Innovation Centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Tiruvananthapuram was inaugurated today by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

Inaugurating the first phase of the Bio Innovation Centre of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Tiruvananthapuram today, the Minister said, “I see ten years down the road a $ 100 billion industry which will be the powerhouse of not only India’s pharmaceutical sector, but will be on a global scale. At this rate of growth it looks likely to be bigger than the domestic pharmaceutical industry.”

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Pure & Eco India : Indian Magazine Promoting Eco-Friendly Living with Awareness of Environmental Issues

Pure & Eco India a magazine from India published by Benefit Publishing Pvt Ltd magazine, Delhi, promotes Eco-Friendly Living, Organics, and the Environment. It imparts information on all aspects of eco-friendly living, while also giving fact-supported knowledge of the Green Business Industry in India. The magazine is a must-read for anyone interested in maintaining a well-balanced holistic lifestyle. It is also a useful tool for industry stakeholders to gain a perspective of the inner workings of the sector and feel the pulse of the market to their benefit. In line with its theme of promoting environment-friendliness and eco consciousness, each copy of Pure & Eco India is printed on 100 % recycled, carbon-neutral UWG paper, certified by the EU-Ecolabel and the Forest Steward Council (FSC).