Recovery of two critically endangered plant species Hubbardia heptaneuron and Ceropegia fantastica, of Western Ghats through the application of biotechnological tools. Funded by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) New Delhi. Duration: 41/2 years
Hubbardia heptaneuron (Gramminae) is an endemic and critically endangered an annual herb species growing on the spray moistened rocky surfaces. The species being critically endangered is one of the priority species was taken up for species recovery program in India. In this project, we assessed the population structure as well as the reproductive biology of the species. The genetic diversity of the species was also assessed using SSR and ISSR markers. The pollen fertility and viability in H. heptaneuron were 67% and 52% respectively. The mean pollination efficiency across three populations was 13%. The seeds have high percent germination when treated with gibberellic acid. The observed heterozygosity on an average across the three populations was 57%. The species apparently does not seem to have any reproductive constraints. Further, despite the species having a restricted distribution, the species had high genetic variability. Thus, the possible reason for its restricted distribution could be high habitat specificity and poor dispersal of seeds into new habitats. Similarly, The reproductive biology of Ceropegia fantastica, an endemic and critically endangered species was studied. The pollinator was confirmed as Dipterans which are small, mostly female which carries pollinaria on their proboscis. The complex and diverse floral morphology of the tubular flower and their deposition as well as other commonly occurring features namely, diverse interior and exterior coloration, scents and secretion such as nectar and water droplets, vibratile corolla lobes and specialized hairs, interior sculpturing, sliding zones and differential lighting within the flowers which are important mechanisms for attracting and detaining insect pollinator were studied.