Correlative Evaluation of the Impact of Adaptive Plant Morphology on Bioactive Accumulation Based on Micro-Morphological Studies in Andrographis serpyllifolia (Rottler ex Vahl) Wight
Does the adaptive plant morphology actually hint at its potential bioactive profile? To understand and decipher this, a micro-morphological investigation was conducted on an arid zone plant. Andrographis serpyllifolia (Rohl.ex.vahl.) Wight is a slightly bitter, acrid endemic herb with fair history of ethno-botanical use among different tribes of peninsular India. A. serpyllifolia was a highly evolved geophyte well-suited for high survivability in extremely harsh terrain. This plant was found to grow and perpetuate successfully under high-stress conditions of water deficit, high soil and atmospheric temperatures, poor nutrition and constant threat from herbivores. Under such circumstances, this plant possessed the potential to develop morphological adaptations that produce and accumulate a wide range of phytochemicals that could preserve, protect and defend its plant body. The twin objectives of this study were to investigate the micro-morphological features and their functional advantage that enabled the plant to flourish in adverse conditions and interpret by deductive reasoning, the potential phytochemical array of this plant given the observed features. Scanning electron microscope was used to explore surface morphologies of various vegetative and floral parts. Key findings of this micro-morphological study were presence of numerous diacytic stomata on both adaxial and abaxial leaf surfaces, abundant glandular sessile trichomes on abaxial leaf surfaces, reticulate pollen ornamentation with echinate sulcus outlined with smooth morus and deeply reticulate, highly pitted spermoderm or seed testa reminiscent of human brain. These three features may serve as pharmacognostic markers aiding in accurate identification and quality control of this herb.
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