Population status, extraction intensity and genetic diversity of Rhododendron arboreum in Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats. Funded by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) New Delhi. 3 Years, 2018-2021
Rhododendron L. is one among the primitive flowering plants, which flourished in the temperate zones of northern hemisphere during 100 million years ago. It is one of the important genus distributed in the high altitudes with significant ecological and economic importance. In India, more than 98% of the Rhododendron species are confined to the Himalayan region and only one species, Rhododendron arboreum, is restricted to southern India. The Rhododendron species are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human interference and environment degradation. In the midst of the decrease in green cover to large extent, Rhododendrons are also facing the impact of ecological disturbance. Among the different species, R. arboreum is extensively harvested all along the Eastern Himalayan region due to its superior fuel wood, distillation for alcoholic beverage and for timber. In this project, an attempt will be made to understand the impacts of harvesting of R. arboreum on the population structure and on the genetic variability. This objective will be accomplished through the assessing the population structure of the harvested and non-harvested populations using SSR markers. An attempt will also be made to develop protocols for the conservation and management of R. arboreum and contribute towards policy development for improved conservation of R. arboreum through public awareness and outreach programs in Eastern Himalayan Region.