Biotechnological Approaches Towards Micropropagation and Conservation of Cycads and Ephedrales

  • Manjul DhimanEmail author
  • Indra Rautela
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 4)


Cycads are woody plants, usually trees, which on casual observation resemble palms since many have a stock cylindrical stem bearing a crown of very large, coarse, palm-like leaves. The cycads also attract a great deal of scientific attention because they have retained the ciliated sperms. Cycads, the only surviving representative of the class Cycadophyta, are facing extinction from their natural habitats. In order to conserve these “living fossils”, immediate steps are needed to propagate them. Ephedra is the only genus belonging to the family Ephedraceae. It comprises nearly 68 species widely distributed in the arid regions of New World and Old World. The major active ingredients of Ephedra are alkaloids and are referred to as ephedrine type alkaloids. Ephedra has been used for more than 5000 years in China and India to treat various ailments. It has also been an ingredient in many dietary supplements and used for weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced athletic performance. Its excess use as medicine has intensified the pressure of landscapes bearing these species. This has necessitated bioprospection and active planning to ensure safe conservation of the existing gene pool and sustainable utilization of this land resource. Ex-situ conservation of germplasm can be achieved using biotechnological approaches such as tissue culture techniques. Hence it is important that biotechnological tools be employed for micropropagation of selected plants and for establishment of germplasm banks. Present review describes various biotechnological aspects related to conservation of Cycads and Ephedra.


Cycads Cycas Zamia Ephedrales Ephedra In vitro culture Micropropagation 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyKanahiya Lal DAV PG CollegeRoorkeeIndia

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