News from the In Vitro Plant Cell Sciences Section

Dr. Erica Benson, Research Scientist, Conservation and Environmental Sciences and Visiting Research Fellow, University of Derby is co-organizer of the Society for Low Temperature Biology annual meeting at the University of Derby September 12-14. The symposium is a cross-discipline forum on the role of validation, safety and ethical issues in cryopreservation. Interested scientists can contact her at for further information.

Carol Stiff, Kitchen Culture Kits Inc., continues her outreach programs in a quest to demystify plant biotechnology to the community. Carol spoke at the 2007 Master Gardener’s Symposium in Janesville, WI on March 31 and at the Orchid Guild Society meeting Madison on April 22. She has also been invited to present a one-day workshop at the Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators on June 26 in Madison, WI. Carol hopes that bringing plant tissue culture to the home and classroom will help people better understand one form of plant biotechnology and better appreciate science.

Carol Stiff, Kitchen Culture Kits, Inc., is finally a grandmother!! Klarissa Ciara Stiff was born on March 17th at 10:30 p.m. in Moscow, Idaho. Klarissa was anxious to get into the world and arrived 5 weeks early. Parents and baby are doing fine and were able to leave the hospital after about 2 weeks.

ISHS International Sympoisum on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants

Participants of the ISHS Sponsored International Symposium on
Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants

The ISHS Sponsored International Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants was held March 19-23 at Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia, USA. There were a total of 68 participants from 23 countries with seven invited speeches / talks, 46 oral papers, and 19 posters presented at the conference.

The Symposium started with a keynote presentation “Future Role for Horticulture in Medicinal and Aromatic Plants” by Dr. James E. Simon, Director of New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. He presented an overview to the increasingly important role of horticulture in the ability to provide improved genetic materials for marketplace; to ensure adequate supplies and profitability along the entire commodity chain; creating and strengthening commercial opportunities in medicinal and aromatic plants through science and technology; as well as in botanical standardization and quality control of the natural products from the bush or field through post-harvest handling and processing.

Dr. Joel L. Swordlow, an amateur medicinal plants hobbyist and book author from Washington, DC, USA, talked about bringing our attention to the treatments available and/or practiced for malaria from an evolutionary perspective, with an emphasis on plants as a source of treatment and prevention. His presentation meticulously combined science with the culture and the history of medicine to argue that plants provide one of the most effective ways to address one of the world’s leading killer (especially of children) and a major cause of poverty in Africa.

Dr. Vinay K. Singh from AYUSH, Government of India, reported the first-hand information on some 14 selected folk drugs employed by the tribals and rural populations of four north Indian states, for the prophylactic and treatment of liver disorders. Folk names of the drug plants, their taxonomic determination, part of the plants used, preparation of drug or its recipe where used as a compound drug, mode of application, and the precautions to be observed during the course of treatment for the cure of patients suffering from liver disorders were discussed.

Dr. Melvin E. Walker, Jr., Professor of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, the Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, GA, USA, discussed the success of any attempts made to commercialize production is dependent on the presence of a “market” and a “marketing system”- that is to say, a mechanism for systematically moving the product from producers to consumers. His presentation summarized work identified and outlined conditions for successful marketing and commercialization of medicinal plant materials.

Dr. Jeffery W. Adelberg, Professor of Horticulture at Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA, elaborated on in vitro plant and organ culture of medicinal and neutraceutical plant species in laboratory and industrial scales. He discussed that sustainable procurement of plant materials without degrading the native populations requires modern propagation technologies that may include in vitro conservation banks, cryopreservation, or slow growth tissue cultures. Tissue culture techniques have been developed for such a diverse group of plants that it is assumed to be universally applicable. Commercial laboratories can supply starter-plants for field culture, or plant organs reared under controlled conditions for direct production of active compounds.

The presentation of Dr. Fabricio Medina-Boliver representing the Arkansas BioScience Institute of the Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR, USA, enthusiastically shed light on the hairy roots obtained via Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated transformation. He drew much inquisitive attention for specialized (secondary) metabolite production, expression of recombinant proteins such as antibodies, and therapeutics using hairy roots system because of their genetic stability, rapid growth, and ability to synthesize the same metabolites as in planta.

Mr. Randy L. Beavers, a medicinal plant grower from the Sleepy Hollow Herbal Farm, Dalton, GA, USA, who also represented a cooperative of 70 medicinal plant growers from the Southeast, illustrated how a group of small medicinal / herbal crop growers are attempting to overcome obstacles and maximize their profit / income through cooperative efforts and the development of value-added products from their raw materials.

Dr. Gary W. Stutte of Dynamac Corporation, NASA Plant Research, Kennedy Space Center, FL, USA, discussed in detail the feasibility of controlled environment (CE) production of Scutellaria, a highly medicinal plant species. He talked about the 2 series of preliminary experiments conducted in specialized CE chambers that allowed CO, temperature, relative humidity, light quality, and photoperiod to be monitored and fully controlled.

Dr. Wudeneh. Letchamo of Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA, made a presentation with the objective to identify and select promising cultivars of sea berry Hippophae rhamnoides to specific ecological conditions and their nutraceutical applications. Hippophaë is a valuable and promising multipurpose crop plant that needs immediate attention in agricultural, environmental, health, sports, cosmetics, military training, and space research programs in the United States of America.

Dr. Norman R. Farnsworth, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA, presenting the Symposium Banquet Speech, reviewed the major successes in the drugs development from flowering plants right from morphine to taxol and the future for development of new plant-derived drugs (phytoceuticals). He also discussed the role of the so called “Botanical Dietary Supplements,” which in reality are also medicinal plants with an example of Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa).

To wrap up the workshop, Dr. Lyle E. Craker of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, and Dr. Anand K. Yadav of Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, GA, USA, presented general talk on medicinal plants and they reaffirmed and elaborated guidelines and the information on publishing through the International Society for Horticultural Science and how to write a great scientific paper. Society’s membership and other privileges were discussed before the adjournment. Submitted manuscripts of papers presented as oral and posters, during the symposium sessionswill be published in the Acta Horticulturae following a thorough peer-review process.

Prof. Dr. Anand K. Yadav