NBRI Develops Database On South Asian Legume Species

Hyderabad: | Updated: Nov 10 2003, 05:30am hrs
As part of global efforts for developing a database containing plant diversity information, the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, a premier plant research institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has developed a database on legumes (beans family) of eight South Asian countries namely, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Maldives.

The exercise was undertaken under the worldwide project - International Legume Database and Information Services (ILDIS), UK in collaboration with the University of Reading and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. NBRI is the partner institution of ILDIS to develop the database, according to NBRI director P Pushpangadhan. This is probably first of its kind in South Asia which has a data collection of several lakh specimens which are housed in India and South Asian countries, he said.

Speaking with eFE, he said that the International Legume Database Information Service (ILDIS) project is to describe and catalogue the worlds legume species. The programme was sponsored by the CSIR, department of biotechnology (DBT), Indian National Science Academy, department of science and technology (DST), Commonwealth Science Council (CSC), British High Commission and UNESCO.

The computerised database contains a comprehensive and authentic information of about 2030 legumes in South Asia. The content of database includes basic nomenclature, distribution and descriptive information on the legumes of the world, according to Dr Pushpangadan.

He said that the economic value for leguminous crops is expected to be about $2 billion per annum. Besides the database, the institutes bioinformatics division maintains a copy of the world database consisting of 19,000 leguminous plants. Legumes provide a wide range of food, fodder and drugs.

Further, NBRI is also working to develop a database of Plants of India. The idea is to make super hybrids of crop plants besides protecting the traditional knowledge systems of the country. The database will help to establish the IPR issues to prevent any piracy.

About 17,500 flowering plants have so far been recorded from India but there are no comprehensive information on the distribution, availability, uses, etc.

Through the use of bioinformatic tools, we are planning to provide a source of information on economic importance of the Indian plants, Dr Pushpangadhan added.