Genetic Diversity of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

Growing Genetic Diversity of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (Nr.1.1.1.1/16/A/307 )

The wild medicinal and the aromatic plants (MAPs) are known to have high concentration of active substances, and therefore they are already used in pharma and cosmetics industries. The research project intends to develop an innovative methodology for selection and organic cultivation of high value MAPs, such as valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and siler (Saposhnikovia divaricata) for further use in the fields of medicine, condiments, food and cosmetics. The researchers will create an experimental garden containing of previous mentioned species, which will be collected from different geographic areas of Latvia and foreign countries. As a result of the project, the researchers will obtain the knowledge on the most appropriate genotypes as well as the organic production of MAPs in Latvia’s climatic conditions.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) is one of the most important plant cultivated for its relaxing and sleep favouring properties. The Dutch produce is of the highest quality containing 0.25% of valerenic acid. Image: wikipedia.org

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is commodity-like MAP, it has worldwide fame for the benefits of its active substances. The largest market is still in Europe (Germany, Italy), but it is rapidly expanding also in Asia. Image: wikipedia.org

Project objectives

  • To evaluate morphological, biochemical, genetic diversity of the local natural populations of MAPs that are interesting for the market and compare them with the genotypes of foreign origin;
  • To determine the quality of the raw material, stability of the experimental garden’s yield and composition of active substances in the researched MAPs;
  • To develop an innovative methodology for selection and organic cultivation of high value MAPs

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) is of North America origin. Its active compound is a derived from caffeic acid, echinacoside, and is usually used into medicine-like products. Its use and knowledge is well established in Europe. Image: wikipedia.org

Solutions

To develop an innovative methodology for selection and organic cultivation of high value MAPs for further use in different business fields, the team of international researchers will develop an experimental research garden. Various species and subspecies of MAP’s (Valeriana officinalis L., Matricaria recutita, Echinacea angustifolia, Taraxacum officinale, Saposhnikovia divaricata) will be collected from different geographic areas of Latvia and foreign countries. The MAPs will be planted and tested under various cultivation conditions, and their morphologic, biochemical and genetic qualities will be monitored. Furthermore, the following parameters will be analysed – yield, phytochemical quality and other. As a result, the researchers will announce the most appropriate genotypes and organic production of MAPs that are also the most suitable for biological agriculture farmers, biological animal farmers, pharma, food and cosmetics companies and households use.

Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has shown inconsistent nature, its phenolic actives vary depending upon area of provenance and harvesting period. Germany, Poland and Hungary are growing dandelion ar farm level, mostly for leaf production. Image: wikipedia.org

Project duration: 03.2017 – 02.2020.

Project manager: Dr. Andrea Primavera

Financed by: European Regional Development Fund, as a part of Measure 1.1.1.1 “Industry-Driven Research” of specific objective 1.1.1 “To increase the research and innovation capacity of scientific institutions of Latvia and their ability to attract external funding by investing in human resources and infrastructure”

Total budget of the project is 736 765,98 EUR. ERDF covers 589 412,79 EUR of the total budget costs.

Leading partner: SIA "Field and Forest"