Special Issue "Phylogenetic Exploration of Medicinal Plants Diversity"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2018) | Viewed by 3390

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Henrik Balslev
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity, Dept of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Build. 1540, 8000 Aarhus C., Denmark
Interests: taxonomy and systematics; tropical botany; plant community studies; ethnobotany; economic botany

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

According to the recent State of the World’s Plants by Kew in 2016, there are about 391,000 described plant species, of which over 31,000 (8%) have a documented use, and almost 18,000 (5%) have medicinal use. Medicinal plants have been a part of human life since prehistoric times, and remain important in all traditional cultures where they are used in a variety of ways. Although modern medicine is widely used, traditional medicine is still important to a very high proportion of the populations in both developing and developed countries. Many currently used modern medicines were originally extracted or synthetized on the basis of plant derivatives which served as blueprints. Searching for bioactive compounds from plants consumes large amounts of time, specialists, and funding. Knowledge of traditional medicinal plants can, therefore, help to reduce costs for drug discoveries. Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants is being eroded by several processes related to globalization and urbanization. It is therefore imperative to document this knowledge as soon as possible since it may be the best way to get to know more uses and medicinal species and make this knowledge available for rural communities for their use of traditional medicine, as well as for pharmaceutical discovery. In the past decade the use of phylogenetic knowledge about relatedness of taxa has been used to explore patterns of medicinal plants diversity. The assumption being that more closely related taxa are more likely to contain the same or similar compounds with medicinal properties. Examples range from the use of phylogeny to interpret cross-cultural patterns in plant use and guide medicinal plant discovery to understanding the phylogenetic distribution of psychoactive compounds in plants. New advances in molecular phylogeny provide important tools for discovering new medicinal plants and have inspired a recent new concept of ethnobotanical convergence which promises to make it easier to find new sources of natural products for health. This Special Issue will explore these and other recent developments in the phylogenetic exploration of medicinal plants discovery. The Special Issue also provides a platform for new research in the combined field of phylogeny and ethnobotany, including the preservation of traditional knowledge and of the medicinal plants it relates to.

Prof. Dr. Henrik Balslev
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (1 paper)

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Comparing Medicinal Uses of Cochlospermaceae throughout Its Geographic Range with Insights from Molecular Phylogenetics
Diversity 2018, 10(4), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10040123 - 15 Nov 2018
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3173
Species of the Cochlospermaceae, a small mostly pantropical plant family, were evaluated at a continental scale for medicinal uses in traditional medicine. This ethnobotanical information was placed in a phylogenetic framework to make informed predictions in the search for new medicines and bioactive [...] Read more.
Species of the Cochlospermaceae, a small mostly pantropical plant family, were evaluated at a continental scale for medicinal uses in traditional medicine. This ethnobotanical information was placed in a phylogenetic framework to make informed predictions in the search for new medicines and bioactive compounds. Medicinal plant-use data were mapped onto a molecular phylogeny based on DNA sequences of nuclear and chloroplast markers. Associations of medicinal uses among closely related species occurring in different geographic regions and among diverse cultures were evaluated. The most common medicinal uses for these species are those used to treat skin ailments, gastro-intestinal problems, malaria, and liver issues. The plant species with the most numerous uses is Cochlospermum tinctorium, which occurs primarily in West Africa. Closely related species being used by cultural groups in different geographic regions to treat the same illnesses suggests the presence of bioactive compounds with potential biomedical value, since they may represent independent discoveries of similar medicinally-active compounds. This leads to the speculation that those closely related species not currently being used to treat these ailments may also contain identical or similar medicinally-active compounds and are worthy of laboratory investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phylogenetic Exploration of Medicinal Plants Diversity)
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