Endangered shady figwort cloned by KFU botanists

First specimens of the plant have already been reintroduced into the environment.

Chair of the Department of General Ecology Vadim Prokhorov informs that the project started in the autumn of 2020. He collected several plants of shady figwort in ‘Russian Switzerland’, a much-loved wildlife reservoir near Kazan city center,

“There are some reservations about hydrological changes in this area, and we decided to be better safe than sorry and introduce this species to other territories.”

Shady figwort is a very demanding species. Even in the Russian Switzerland, it seems, the plant is not actively proliferating. Scientists have tried growing it from seeds, but to no avail. Vegetative reproduction has also not been very successful. So, a decision was made to clone the plant. The Department of Botany and Plant Physiology and the Laboratory of Plant Biotechnology joined the effort.

“Initially, attempts to clone the plant at the department from live tissue were not successful – the figwort did not grow. It seemed that the project had failed. However, the researchers were finally able to grow the plant from the seeds that I had collected,” continues Prokhorov. “Meaning that we only succeeded in cloning the plants from those specimens that had grown from my seeds – the figwort grew from the seeds, then it was cut and cloned.”

As a result, 30 specimens of the plant were obtained. After they grew enough, the plants were given to volunteers for re-planting. They will be placed in several locations around the city, all near water bodies.

Dr. Prokhorov comments,

“It’s important to preserve all the diversity. We don’t know much until now, and maybe figwort is connected to some insects who only eat its leaves. There can be complex interactions between organisms.”

The associate professor mentions that this is the first experience in cloning and planting in Tatarstan. The team will now monitor the survivability of the cloned figwort in the wild. Other endangered species may then be subjected to the same treatment. This effort has already attracted interest from the Committee on Biological Resources of Tatarstan.

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