Cataloguing phylogenetic diversity of Selaginella bioresources in India

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Letter to the Editor

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Current Science


Selaginella P. Beauv., a prehistoric plant, exists on the earth since 440 mya or the early Carboniferous period without significant morphological changes. It successfully continues to exist through natural selection and grows in all biome types (mostly humid and warm climatic regions), except Antarctica. Many of the Selaginella species are considered potent medicinal plants. It contains several phenolic compounds (flavonoids), alkaloids as well as terpenoids. Bi-flavonoids, the main bioactive compounds of Selaginella, have several medicinal properties, especially antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. Selaginella bryopteris, commonly known as Sanjiwani, is a widely used herbal medicine in India. Moreover, the plants possess certain unique characteristics to discourage herbivores, pests and pathogens as well as to optimize growth by efficiently capturing sunlight. Selaginella can grow in the most extreme habitats such as in the cold tundra and alpine, or in the desert; however most of the species grow in the tropical rainforest. The genus Selaginella includes more than 700 species worldwide, among which the Indian subcontinent consists of more than 60 species in wide habitat ranges from the Himalaya to the Western Ghats.

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