Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Thiruvananthapuram


Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden and Research Institute is a premier research centre in Kerala. The Thiruvananthapuram-situated centre is involved in the noble activity of preserving tropical plant species for their future sustainable use.

Introduction


Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute is an autonomous institute coming under the Government of Kerala. Its old name was Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute. The premier institute is situated in a place called Palode in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. The administrative control of the research centre is with the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), which is under the Government of Kerala. During its formative stages, the institute was helped by Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in designing and laying the layout of its garden. JNTBGRI is an active member of the Botanical Gardens Conservations International (BGCI). Within the country, the institute is recognized as a centre that offers quality programs in postgraduate and doctoral research.

History


Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) was found in the year 1979 to establish a conservatory of the botanical garden of tropical plants. The tropical botanical garden was the brainchild of its founder director Professor A. Abraham. It was due to his dedicated efforts, the botanical garden was established in 1979. Through this institution, Prof. Abraham wanted to save the waning tropical plant species in India. As the years passed, the institute grew by adding more units to augment its research. Consequently, Saraswathy Thangavelu extension centre was established in the institute premises to house the Bioinformatics component. Later the institute was brought under the control of KSCSTE to streamline its working and provide adequate government funding.

Since its establishment, the institute has flourished into a research and development centre that is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of tropical plant species in the region. Over the years, the institute expanded to the present size, and it has become the only organization in the country that maintains 300 acres of land for tropical plant conservation. Due to its tremendous efforts and dedication, the institute has gained the recognition as National Centre for Excellence in ex-situ plant conservation and sustainable utilization. The agencies that have offered the recognition are Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, and Centre of Science and Technology of Nonaligned and Developing Countries (NAM S&T Centre).

Activities at the Institute


The institute undertakes research activities in many fields relating to Plant Biology. The focused research in these areas is very much relevant to society, given the fact that the information regarding the traditional Ayurvedic medicines is slowly getting erased from the public domain. After identifying the tropical plants that are useful to mankind, the plant taxonomists grow them in the institute's garden. On the other hand, the biotechnologists propagate these plant species scientifically. These steps help in mass multiplying the identified plants in the appropriate environment. Later on, these genetically multiplied plant species are given to the people for growing in their plots. It is a known fact that the efforts of the institute have helped in reviving many species of medicinal plants from extinction.

The institute also conducts a comprehensive survey of economic plants in Kerala. This survey enables the institute to conserve, preserve and use the plants for the benefit of the people. Apart from these, it also carries out research to identify different ways to improve the plant growth and use. The insights obtained from the sustained research are implemented on the plants planted in the nursery to improve their properties. This enables the development of plant species which have favorable traits. Following this principle, many orchids and flowers have been brought out to the society for sale. Also, the institute is involved in studying about those foreign plant species that can be grown in Kerala. Above all these, the principles of botany teaching have been introduced by the institute to raise the awareness about plants amongst the people.

Achievements


Because of the focused efforts at identifying and studying the plant diversity, it has achieved many landmarks. Some of them are described below.
  1. It has grown a large collection of plants in its garden. It includes trees, medicinal plants, aromatic plants, spice plants, orchids, bamboos, ornamental plants, and other rare and threatened plants.

  2. The institute has a reliable gene bank of all the plants it has studied.

  3. It has identified and introduced 150 species of native plants, the entire genus of foliicolous fungi, and over 100 species of flowering plants.

  4. The centre has developed tissue culture protocols for rapid multiplication of orchids, medicinal and ornamental plants, bamboos and rattans.

  5. It has developed hybrid orchids and bamboos. These hybrid plants have tremendous horticulture potential.

  6. The research wing of the institute has discovered new genera of plants.

  7. The research centre has done the DNA profiling of various plants for easy identification and digitization.

  8. True to its name, the centre has maintained a herbarium of Kerala flora to help the students, teachers and researchers in their study.

  9. The institute was instrumental in developing a medicine by the name Jeevani from a medical plant. Subsequently, the institute has transferred the product development technology to a government-owned enterprise for its large scale manufacture.

  10. It has developed 12 phytomedicines and filed patents for many of its discoveries.

Conclusion


Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute is situated in the capital city of Kerala. The institute was constituted with the mission of saving the topical plants for their future sustainable use. The research institute has introduced, discovered and studied many plant species that have not been previously studied. The institute also has developed protocols for the genetic propagation of various plant species for mass production. It has developed different medicines and transferred their production technologies to the appropriate companies for their manufacture in mass scale.


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