Dioscorea species: A Wild Medicinal Tuber Crops of Odisha Sanjeet Kumar Department of Botany, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack.

Abstract Forest plays a vital role in the conservation of biodiversity. It is treasury of several wild foods which could be next supplement in our diet and have ability to fight against food security and different microbial pathogens. Dioscorea a ge nus represents wild tuber crops which are the major underground food in the fore st of Odisha among different tribal community. And used as wild economic tuber c rops as well as traditional medicine. Key words: Dioscorea species, Wild tuber crops, Medicinal value Introduction Many infectious diseases are known to be treated with herbal remedies throughout the history of mankind. Plants still continue to be almost the exclusive source of antimicrobial compounds for the majority of the world’s population. The WHO re ported that 80 % of the worlds populations rely chiefly on traditional medicine and a major part of the traditional therapies involve the use of plant as a anti microbial agents against various types of infections caused by microbes. Discov ery of antimicrobial compounds were one of the most important findings of the 20 th century. These natural compounds found in many plants have been used to treat human diseases caused by various microbes. Therefore now pick up another thread through the web of Paul Ehrlich, that some natural compounds inhibit the microb es, but not the patients, thus curing the illness. Hence over the last decade, t here has been rapid growth in the use of alternative medicines. Natural products , including many plants traditionally used as medicinal herbs against microbial infections are being reevaluated as key components in future microbiological sci ence. Odisha the most picturesque state in eastern India occupies a unique place in the tribal map of the country having largest number of tribal communities (6 2) including 13 primitive tribes, with a population of 8.15 million constituting 22.3 % of state’s population. Almost all tribal groups have been using Dioscorea species as popular traditional medicinal tubers that are generally taken alone o r in multiple herb formulation. Some biological effect of Dioscorea species, inc luding the ant-oxidative and anti-microbial activities has been reported (Kaladh ar, 2002). Wild tubers are highly acrid and cause irritation in throat and mouth due to excessive amount of calcium oxalate present in tubers still than tribal peoples using more and more wild tubers as a food and traditional medicine with traditional method of processing, therefore systematic rigorous scientific studi es of frequently used tubers are needed Botany of Dioscorea species It is a climbing, rarely erect herbs or shrubs; rootstock tuberous or with a har d rhizome and tuberous roots. Leaves opposite or alternate, sometimes both on th e same plant, simple, lobed or digitely 3-9-foliolate, palminerved and reticulat ely veined; petiole often angular and twisted at the base. Flowers regular, smal l or minute, usually monoecious or dioecious, rarly bisexual, in spikes, racemes or panicles. Perianth tubular, urceolate or rotate, 6- cleft, often shortly con nate below. Male flowers : stamens 3 or 6, or 3 perfect wuth 3 alternating atami nodes, inserted at the base of the perianth or on its lobes; anthers small. Pist illode sometimes present. Female flowers : Staminodes 6, 3 or 0. Ovary inferior, triquetrous, usually 3-celled; ovules 2, superposed per cell; style 3, short; s tigma entire or 2- fid, recurved. Fruit a berry or a 3- valved capsule. Seeds fl at or subglobose, winged or not.

Table 1: Local Name and synonyms of major Dioscorea species in Odisha.

Dioscorea species D.alata L. Khambo alu, D. belophylla Voigt. ex Haines Kunda alu, D. bulbifera L. Pita Kanda D. glabra Roxb.

Local name



D.globosa Roxb. ++++

D.glabra auct. Non Roxb. D.sativa Thunb. +++


Konta alu, --------------------- ++ D. hamiltonii Hook. Suta alu ---------------------- ++ D. hispida Dennst. Banya alu, D. oppositifolia L. Pani alu, D. pentaphylla L. Mundi alu., D. puber Bl. Enum. Kosa alu D. wallichii Hook.f. Suta alu, D. daemona Roxb. ++

---------------------- +++ ---------------------- ++ D. anguina Roxb. D. aculeate L. ++ ++++

Table 2: Morphological variations of Dioscorea species in Odi sha. Dioscorea species Habitat Twining (Stem) Fruit Tubers D.alata L. Stout twining Climber Right Capsule obcordate Large, shallow without long stalks D. belophylla Voigt . ex Haines Climbers Right Capsule Sub orbicular Rhizome bearing tubers ending with flesh y fibers D. bulbifera L. Climbers Left Capsule quadrately oblong Subglobsed tubers without define d stalk D. glabra Roxb. Prickly climber Right Glabrous obcordate Woody rhizome ending with fleshy fibres D. hamiltonii Hook. Climber with light reddish stem Right Glabrous with re tuse Long stalked tubers D. hispida Dennst. Weakly prickled climber Left Quadrately oblong Irregular shaped tubers D. oppositifolia L. Climber with light purplish stem Right Capsule with depressed base Fleshy tubers D. pentaphylla L. Climber Left Oblonged capsule Clavate proceddi ng from base of stem D. puber Bl. Enum. Pubscented climber Right Subcordate capsule Long cylindric tuber D. tomentosa Koeng. Climber with prickle at base Left Cuneately oblong Elongate tubers

D. wallichii Hook.f. Woody climber Right attached to the directly at base of stem

Braodly obovate Fascicled tubers

Pharmacological properties Literature survey revealed that the powdered tubers as an ingredient of medicine s for cholera and constipation and plant juice in sores, in treatment of piles, skin diseases, intestinal worms and obesity (Nataraj et al, 2009). Uadia (2203) reported some Dioscorea species are used to treat diabetes. Dioscorea species ar e sometimes used as an herbal tonic, therefore eaten as the treatment for poor a ppetite (Rani et al., 2010).. Dioscorea species (Sautor et al., 2005) attribut ing antimicrobial activities due to the presence of secondary metabolites like s teroid saponins are exert a large variety of biological functions, such as antifungal, anti-bacterial and anticancer (Li et al., 2001).Quan et al.(2006) report ed efficient antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. Dioscorea species are used in Bangladesh for the treatment of Leprosy a nd tumors (Mbiantcha et al., 2011). In Zimbabwe, Dioscorea species are used as a n infusion to apply on cuts and sores, both for humans and animals while in Came roon and Madagascar, the pounded bulbs are applied to abscesses, boil and wound infections (Mbiantcha et al., 2011). Many phytochemicals studies revealed that p urine derivatives, saponins, starches, mucilage are present as main constituents in Dioscorea species, and allantoin, one of purine derivatives, is well-known b iologically active compounds, which play an important role in nitrogen storage ( Yoon et al., 2008). Zhang et al. (2007) reported many water soluble compounds wh ich are not saponins, such as cyclo – (Leu-Tyr) and adenosine. The bulbils of Dios corea species are used to treat piles, syphilis and are applied to ulcers and in flammation (Mbiantcha et al., 2011). Uadia( 2003) reported, Dioscorea species ar e used to make arrow poison. Dioscorea species contain small quantities of diosg enin, is used as a precursor in the commercial synthesis of sex hormones and bir th control (Crabbe, 1979). Conclusion Dioscorea species are one of the medicinally important wild tubers plant, extens ively consumed by rural and tribal people as a food. However there is apparently lack of scientific reports on the antimicrobial properties of this tuber plant. The lack of scientific knowledge has often exerted a major constraint on the us e of traditional herbal remedies as an affordable alternative to orthodox medica l treatment. Subsequent research work may be extended in this line to other tube rs commonly used as food by the tribal’s of Odisha. Further research needed for ru ral and tribal peoples for getting benefit against treatment of bacterial and fu ngal infections and on the other hand fulfill their supplementary food demand. M ass cultivation and commercialization of the plant lead to a greater economic im portance for the future. REFERENCES 1. Kalaghar, D.S.V.G.K., Rao, V.N., Barla, S. and Harasreeramulu, S., “Compar ative antimicrobial studies of Dioscorea hamiltonii hook.f. tubers with Azadirac hta indica Stem”, Journ. Pharm. Sci. Tech., 2010, 2(8), 284-287. 2. Li, B.,Yu, B., Hui, Y., Li, M., Han, X., and Fung, K., “Self-assisted acid hydrolysis of starch to D-glucose under microwave irradiation”, Carbohydr Res. 2 001, 1, 331. 3. Prakash, G. and Hosetti, B.B., “Investigation of antimicrobial properties of Dioscorea pentaphylla from mid western ghats, India”, Scintific world, 2010, 8( 8), 91-96. 4. Quan, H. J., Koyanagi, J., Hagiwara, K., Cui, X. R.,Isshiki, Y., Kondo, S., Komada, F., and Saito, S., “Reactions of 26- iodopseudodiosgenin and 26-iodops eudodiosgenone with various nucleophiles and pharmacological activities of the p roduct”, Chem. Pharm. Bull.,2006, 54(1), 72-79.

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