Aligarh Muslim University, India
Title: Use of radiation processed polysaccharides in enhancing the productivity of medicinal & aromatic plants – A new concept
M. Masroor A. Khan is Associate Professor, Department of Botany, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India. He did Post-Doctorate from the Ohio State University, USA. He published 6 books. He also published 100 research papers and has guided 6 Ph.D. students, 2 M.Phil. students and 21 M.Sc. projects to date.
The convention of herbs to treat a variety of different ailments is universal, and exists since the dawn of human civilization. Therefore, increasing the productivity of medicinal and aromatic plants is the need of hour. We have employed a novel approach to boost the productivity of these plants through the indirect use of radiation technique. Some natural polysaccharides like alginates, chitosan, carrageenan and their derivatives have been observed to show interesting properties when applied on plants after exposure to gamma radiations. When these irradiated natural polysaccharides were applied on foliage of certain plants, they showed increased growth of the plants. The increases in yields were much higher than can be expected from the high yielding varieties. Polysaccharides are broken down to lower molecular weight oligomers when exposed to high energy radiation. It is much easier to control the molecular weight of such oligomers by the use of high energy radiation than by chemical methods. In this technique, we did not expose the plants directly to gamma radiations; rather we used the gamma radiations to deploymerise the natural polysaccharides like alginate, carrageenan and chitosan. Interestingly, the oligomers, thus obtained, when applied through foliar application, improved the productivity and quality of several medicinal and aromatic plants. The technique proved successful in escalating the overall performance of various medicinal and aromatic plants including, artemisia, beetroot, eucalyptus, fennel, Japanese mint, lemongrass, opium poppy, peppermint and periwinkle in an economical and ergonomical way. In addition to being safe, the technique is highly convenient and eco-friendly.