The Role of Siberian Botanical Gardens in Food Security Principles Development

I.M. Krasnoborov.
The Central Siberian Botanical Garden,
Novosibirsk, Russia


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Abstract

In Siberia, where agricultural production in the open ground is possible only in the forest-steppe and steppe areas, the success of farming is limited by the severe climate, low average annual temperature ranging from - 3,5° to + 2,7°C, total insolation of 4200-5050 MJ/m2 per year, average annual difference of precipitation and evaporation of - 100- - 400 mm. In connection with this the problems of food security - the ability of the region to provide the population with all necessary food products - are especially vital in Siberia. The Central Siberian Botanical Garden is one of the institutions involved in searching the ways to carry out the task. There are a few approaches.
  1. Study of natural plant resources and the opportunities of their utilization.
  2. Food and forage plant introduction and study of their variation in nature and culture, forms creation methods development.
  3. High - yielding and stable cultivars selection.

In the Siberian flora there are more than 300 food plant species. There are about 80 vegetable plant species, 35 berries, 7 fruit plant species among them. In the Central Siberian Botanical Gardens collection there are about 200 species and 3000 cultivars, forms and hybrids of food plants, there have been developed 7 cultivars of Vaccinium uliginosum, 5 cultivars of Malus, 3 cultivars of Padus, 1 cultivar of Cerasus, Ribes nigrum, Grossularia, Rheum. In the flora of Siberia there are about 350 spicy and aromatic plants. A resources and chemical expertise of such useful plants as Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Hedysarum theinum, popular with the Siberian population as food and medicinal plants, is being carried out. The work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

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Food Security
Food security is a political problem, and the state and its government in most cases plays the leading role in solving it. Here very much depends on the economical system and property types.

But in any state, with any economical and political system, it could not be solved without biologists. In Siberian conditions, where open ground crops and vegetable farming is possible only in the steppe and forest-steppe zones, its success is limited by the severe climate - low average annual temperatures ranging from -3.5 to +2.7º C, total insolation of 4200-5050 MJ/m2 per year, average annual difference of precipitation and evaporation of - 100 to -400 mm and total air temperature during the period with temperatures above 10º C of about 2000º C ( "The USSR Atlas", 1986).

In connection with this here the problems of food security - the ability of the region to provide the population with all necessary food products - are especially vital. At the Central Siberian Botanical Garden , as well as at the other Botanical Gardens of Siberia a few approaches to solving this problem may be pointed out:

  1. The study of the Siberian plant world biological diversity and development of biological resources rational utilization principles.
  2. The expansion of useful Siberian plant groups assortment from the cultural and native flora with the help of genetics, biotechnology, physiology, biochemistry and other methods.
  3. The Siberian plants gene pool preservation principles development through creation of living plants collections, seed banks, endangered species monitoring, developing the proposals for creation a net of nature reserves.
  4. Botanical knowledge propaganda and ecological education of the population through lecturing at Universities and schools, guided botanical excursions, issuing booklets.
During the 52 years of the Siberian Botanical Garden existence the composition and structure of Siberian plant cover have been studied, vegetation maps have been created for the major part of its territory. The productivity of herbaceous plant communities and their dynamics have been studied, the pasture grounds estimation has been made, their types defined, recommendations for their usage, improvement, loading have been given. Such projects have been carried out in many parts of Siberia, but especially in the Tyva, Khakasiya, Altai, Altaisky, Krasnoyarsky, Kemerovo and Novosibirsk Regions, i.e. in major stock-breeding areas.

On the given map-scheme with the pasture - ground types distribution diagrams developed by the researchers of the Central Siberian Botanical Garden (Kuminova, 1956) it is possible to follow the regular pasture - grounds structure change (Fig. 1) in connection with the major ecological factors (climate, orography, edaphic conditions). On the basis of this research the Republican government was given recommendations for agricultural development.

That is only one of the research lines. Similar studies were carried out for all the above mentioned territories.

The investigation of the flora of Siberia is also connected with this problem. The 13-volume "Flora of Siberia" (1988-1997) has been compiled. According to our data the Siberian flora has 4303 species belonging to 140 families.

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Figure 1

Pasture Ground Types of the Altai

The largest of them are given in Table 1.

Taxonomic spectra in some regions of Siberia vary essentially, for instance, even in the South of Siberia in the steppe zone, but with different orographic and climatic conditions (Table 2).

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Table 1

The Largest Families of the Flora of Siberia.
Families Species Number % to the Whole Flora
Asteraceae 558 13
Poaceae 450 10.5
Fabaceae 348 8
Cyperaceae 235 5.5
Rosaceae 223 5.2
Ranunculaceae 217 5.04
Brassicaceae 208 4.8
Caryophyllaceae 164 3.8
Scrophulariaceae 144 3.35
Lamiaceae 138 3.2

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Table 2

Taxonomic Spectra of Some Siberian Regional Floras
Families Novosibirsk Region Tyva Altai
species % to number the flora of the region species % to number the flora republic species % to number the flora republic
Asteraceae 161 12.1 235 13.3 256 13.9
Poaceae 113 8.5 193 10.8 178 9.7
Cyperaceae 89 6.7 121 6.8 116 6.3
Fabaceae 72 5.4 135 7.6 138 7.5
Rosaceae 57 4.3 98 5.5 121 6.6
Ranunculaceae 55 4.1 101 5.7 94 5.1
Brassicaceae 60 4.5 89 5.0 98 5.3
Caryophyllaceae 54 4.1 61 3.4 64 3.5
Chenopodiaceae 54 4.1 63 3.5 41 2.2
Scrophulariaceae 46 3.5 63 3.5 68 3.7
Lamiaceae 42 3.2 60 3.4 62 3.4
Apiaceae 39 2.9 44 2.5 49 2.7
Note. The area of Novosibirsk region is 178.2 thousand km2 Tyva Republic - 170.5 thousand km2, Altai Republic - 92.6 thousand km2, Siberia - 10 million km2 .


The centers of species diversity are being defined, which helps to plan the research projects. For example, the researcher of the Central Siberian Botanical Garden R. Plennik (1976) studied the generic complexes of Astragalus and Oxytropis. At was discovered that some species (especially long - stemmed perennials of the highland hollows, valley and mountain forests, and also rhizomatous ones, able to form sprout during the whole vegetative period) could be recommended as forage plants. Simultaneously a large number of endemic and relict species with low ecological plasticity need close attention as conservation objects.

The forage production problem in Siberia can be successfully solved o with creation of cultivars on the basis of evolutionary adapted species of the local flora. Local species, together with their advantages, often have some deficiencies. For instance, the existence of digestive ferments inhibitors in the Fabaceae or long awns in the floscules of Elymus sibiricus could be classified as undesirable selection characters. The later one makes the plant unfit as a forage one. The studies of Vicia and Lathyrus conducted by N. Tarasenko, O. Agafonova, A. Agafonov (1985) showed the high effectiveness of mutagenesis for creation of forms with low trypsin inhibitors activity.

In relation to Elymus sibiricus it was suggested that, due to its "self - pollination" ability, it was possible to get phenotype fixing recessive mutations in the homozygotic state. Accumulation and recombination of such mutations through cross - pollination may help to partly shorten the owns, and through the selection of mutagenes and their combination it is probably possible to get mutations with strong character affect ( Tarasenko, Agafonova, Agafonov, 1985). Later the researchers followed the way of getting fertile short - awned forms of Elymus sibiricus using the method of sexual hybridization combined with the protein marking.

The grown in Yakutia spontaneous hybrids of the cultivar Kamalinsky-7 (based on E. sibiricus) and E. mutabilis , and taken from natural habitats of Kazakhstan, Amur Region and Primorye, Sakhalin specimens of E. sibiricus served as the basic ones (Agafonova, 1997) (Fig. 2, 3). The best ones for the selection purposes might be the plants from Sakhalin and Amur Region, because they have larger vegetative mass, better fodder properties, and Yakutian plants are highly winter - hardy. But all of them have long awns.

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Figure 2

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Figure 3

All these studies are based on the Central Siberian Botanical Garden forage plants collection (mostly the Fabaceae and Poaceae), which includes more than 200 species, with the collection of initial genetic material of 60 species, 850 ecotypes, 120 hybrids of the tribe Triticeae from almost 1000 forage plant species of Siberian flora.

An express method of developing new cultivars of leguminous forage plants with increased salt resistance, productivity, protein content and improved forage qualities. In the flora of Siberia there are more than 300 species of food plants. The most important of them are 72 vegetable plants, 35 berry plants, 7 fruit plants, 5 oil - producing crops and 3 nut - bearing plant species. 19 vegetable species, 8 berries, 3 oil - bearing and 3 fruit plant species have been released for cultivation (Gorbunov, 1980, 1997). Since 1946 the Laboratory of Food Plants of the CSBG has been creating the collection and gene bank of introduced plants, studying their variation patterns in the wild and under cultivation, as well as in distant and intraspecific hybridization, searching for new food plants, developing new forms creation and propagation techniques. A collection of fruit, berry and vegetable plants, consisting of 3000 species, subspecies, varieties, hybrids and cultivars has been founded. The most important research objects are the genera Malus, Pyrus, , Sorbus, Cerasus, Padus, Prunus, Oxycoccus, Vaccinium, Licopersicum, living plant collections "Apple Tree", "Pear", "Cherry", "Plum", "Bird-cherry ", "Food Berry Plants of Siberia and the Russian Far East", "Blueberry", "Cranberry" etc. have been created. Forty six cultivars of food plants have been developed, with 5 apple tree cultivars, 3 bird cherry cultivars (for the first time in the world), 5 bog blueberry cultivars ( for the first time in the world), one mountain ash, gooseberry, black currants, pepper, rhubarb, cherry tree cultivar released for cultivation in Novosibirsk and some other areas of Siberia.

Forty berry and vegetable plant cultivars are under testing. The cultivars developed in the Central Siberian Botanical Garden are winter-hardy, high-yielding, pest and disease resistant, high vitamin content.

General questions of food plants breeding are being studied. It is a well known fact that distant hybridization can serve as an effective method of creating new cultivars, for here one has a wide variation range and a possibility for valuable characters selection ( Vasilyeva, 1991; Gorbunov, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998; Simagin, 1998 etc.). V. Vasilyeva (1991) for winter-hardy cultivars creation used the adaptive potential of the cultivated plants gene pool (including wild and semi-cultured ones).

The majority of the varieties with high adaptive abilities combined with other useful properties was found among the hybrids of Malus baccata and Malus domestica. The advantage of European summer cultivars developed from M. praecox with short vegetation time and high frost resistance has been stated in crosses with M. baccata ("Siberian Beauty", "Bely Naliv").

The biology of 54 species of rhizomatous Alliums of Northern Asia in the wild and under cultivation has been thoroughly studied. Thirty two species have been selected as promising food plants (Table 3), 7 of them are considered the best for release into cultivation: Allium schoenoprasum, A.ledebourianum, A.obliquum, A.victorialis, A.altaicum, A.nutans, A.odorum ( Cheremushkina et al., 1992).

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Table 3

The Chemical Composition of Alliums Grown in Novosibirsk

(ACC. TO CHEREMUSHKINA ET AL., 1992)
Species Dry Substance Sugars Organic Acids Ascorbic Acid ß - carotene
%
A. schoenoprasum 11,57 2,77 0,27 84,52 1,16
A. nutans 10,62 2,56 0,21 69,58 1,02
A. angulosum 12,55 2,49 0,31 62,10 1,91
A. obliquum 13,18 1,86 0,25 84,33 1,88
A. altaicum 9,63 3,04 0,19 63,30 0,91
A. ledebourianum 12,20 2,76 0,29 77,73 1,29
A. chinense 10,36 2,82 0,24 69,12 1,39
A. altyncolicum 10,89 2,25 0,27 66,85 1,15
A. austrosibiricum 13,27 2,07 0,22 72,00 1,00
A. platyspathum 13,82 1,71 0,36 65,80 1,60
A. globosum 13,80 1,69 0,37 57,50 1,17
A. galanthum 10,07 3,21 0,21 50,00 1,12
A. hymenorhizum 15,28 2,14 0,30 52,43 1,05
A. ramosum 11,73 2,02 0,38 63,55 1,07
A. senescens 10,17 1,92 0,26 64,49 0,89
A. lineare 13,59 1,30 0,37 63,05 -
A. fistulosum 9,18 2,27 0,24 76,20 1,45
A. rubens 11,82 1,20 0,33 68,05 1,70
A. victorialis 11,50 3,70 0,25 87,90 1,96

The Laboratory of Medicinal, Spicy and Aromatic Plants has conducted a long-term comprehensive study of useful plants of Tyva, Khakasiya, the West Sayan, Altai, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk regions. More than 350 promising species have been selected for further investigation.

For instance, I. Gus'kova (1970) studied the volatile oils content of the 62 Altaian Lamiaceae species. It was discovered that the xerophytes and xero-petrophytes of the Altai-Sayan, Central Asian and Middle Asian floristic groups produce the highest volumes of volatile oils. Among them Schizonepeta, Ziziphora, Thymus, Nepeta and some others stand out.

The highest volatile oil content is accumulated in plants during the flowering stage (Fig. 4, 5), its diurnal accumulation dynamics (Fig. 6 ) and ecological conditions dependence (Fig. 7) were ascertained. In the course of research the most promising volatile oil-bearing plants Schizonepeta multifida, S. annua, Ziziphora clinopodioides, some Thymus species were selected.

The Thymus cultivar "Limonniy" developed in the laboratory is very popular in Siberia.

The collection of spicy and aromatic plants consists of a few hundred various ecotypes of 171 species belonging to 124 genera.

Pentaphylloides fruticosa was taken for the development of the new medicinal-prophylactic drink "Siberian Tea" with good antioxidant, radioprotective and antidisbacteriosis properties. The drink was highly estimated at the Leipzig Fair in 1995.

A group of medicinal, spicy and aromatic plant cultivars has been developed, Hypericum perforatum, Thymus serpyllum among them.

Some intensive cultivation techniques for 27 medicinal, spicy and aromatic plants have been worked out. In the Laboratory of Biotechnology the technology of tissue culture-based microclonal propagation of introduced plants is being developed which provides the unique genotype properties preservation, saves the plants from viruses and infectious microflora. The tissue culture collection includes species, cultivars and varieties of Oxycoccus, Pentaphylloides, Actinidia, Thymus and other useful plants.

The interrelationships of plants and microorganisms ( symbiosis and pathogenesis) are being studied. Much attention is paid to the anatomical, morphological, and physiological problems of the Rhizobium- legume symbiosis. It has been shown that the host plant plays an active part even at the initial stage of infection by symbionts and pathogenes. Taking it into account some food and forage legume plants production increase methods have been developed.

At the CSBG much attention is allotted to the study of Glycyrrhiza uralensis - a most valuable medicinal, food and technical plant. Tibetan medicine specialists note that preparations from this plant make people look healthy and promote longevity . It is a well known medicinal plant used in pulmonary and renal ailments.

The distribution range and reserves of this species in Siberia, its biology, chemical composition, fodder and food qualities and cultivation techniques have been studied ( Fig. 8).

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Fig.4. The Altaic plants volatile oils accumulation dynamics during the vegetation period (acc. to Gus¢ kova, 1970) (1-vegetation; 2-bud stage; 3-flowering; 4-fruiting. Volatile oil in ml per 100g of absolutely dry substance) Ziziphora clinopodioides (The Kurai Steppe).

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Fig.5. Schizonepeta annua (the Chuya steppe,1962-----; 1964 ----). The Altaic plants volatile oils accumulation dynamics (acc. to Gus¢ kova, 1970) (1-vegetation; 2-bud stage; 3-flowering; 4-fruiting. Volatile oil in ml per 100g of absolutely dry substance )

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Fig.6. Ziziphora clinopodioides, during 24 hours (The Kurai Steppe,1961).(----- 31.07 - 1.08 ; ----- 1.08-2.08; -----24.07-25.07)

 

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Fig.7. Schizonepeta multifida, during the vegetative period in various habitats: ----- the Kurai Steppe (h=1700 m); ----- forest belt (h=600 m)

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Fig.8. Distribution and resources of Glycyrrhiza uralensis (acc. to Grankina, Nadeshina, 1991)

A. in Novosibirsk Region (community area, ha: a-0.5-5.0, b-5-10, c-> 10; resourses density, kg/ha: d-250-300, e-200-250, f-150-200, g-100-150; 1-41 numbers of separate areas)

B. in the Altai (community area, ha: a-0.5-5.0, b-5-10; resourses density, kg/ha: c-350-500, d-250-300, e-200-250, f-150-200, g-100-150; 1-32 numbers of separate areas) One more Asian plant is of considerable interest . It is Hedysarum theinum, which is very popular with the Altaians, used for making a herbal tea. It is considered a good tonic, useful in many ailments ).


Its distribution range, reserves in Siberia are being verified, its biology and the possibilities for introduction are being studied. The latter problem appeared very complicated because of the species narrow ecological amplitude (subalpine and alpine habitats). In the Laboratory of Biotechnology the technology of tissue culture-based microclonal propagation of introduced plants is being developed which provides the unique genotype properties preservation, saves the plants from viruses and infectious microflora. The tissue culture collection includes species, cultivars and varieties of Oxycoccus, Pentaphylloides, Actinidia, Thymus and other useful plants.

The interrelationships of plants and microorganisms ( symbiosis and pathogenesis) are being studied. Much attention is paid to the anatomical, morphological, and physiological problems of the Rhizobium- legume symbiosis. It has been shown that the host plant plays an active part even at the initial stage of infection by symbionts and pathogenes. Taking it into account some food and forage legume plants production increase methods have been developed.


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References

These could not be included due to special case font... please emailI. I.M. Krasnoborov. for details


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