This study reports a protocol for successful micropropagation of Decalepis arayalpathra (Joseph and Chandras) Venter. (Janakia arayalpathra Joseph and Chandrasekhran; Periplocaceae), a critically endangered and endemic ethnomedicinal plant in the southern forests of the Western Ghats which is overexploited for its tuberous medicinal roots by the local Kani tribes. Natural regeneration is rare and conventional propagation is difficult. Conservation of the species through micropropagation was attempted. The nodal explants of greenhouse-raised plants, were more desirable than cotyledonary nodal explants of aseptic seedlings. The basal nodes (73%) of 12–16-wk-old greenhouse-grown plants cultured in Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium containing 12.96 μM 6-benzyladenine (BA), 2.48 μM 2-isopentenyladenine (2-ip) and 2.68 μM α-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) formed 16–17 cm long unbranched robust solitary shoots in 8 wk. Cotyledonary nodal explants cultured in the same medium showed multiple shoot formation and axillary branching. But the shoots were thin, fragile and not suitable for mass propagation. Single nodes of a solitary shoot subcultured on MS medium containing 2.22 μM BA and 0.24 μM 2-ip together produced 9.8 ± 0.3 nodes from 18.0 ± 0.6 cm long shoots within 5–6 wk. The basal nodes of the shoots so formed were repeatedly subcultured to increase the stock of propagules while the 2.5–3.0 cm terminal cuttings were used for rooting. The best root induction (68%) and survival (86%) was achieved on half-strength MS medium supplemented with 1.07 μM NAA. Field-established plants showed uniform growth and phenotypic similarity to parental stock.
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Vol. 41 • No. 5