Plants play an important role in the maintenance of the ecosystem of an area. In nature, they are responsible for consuming carbon dioxide that is produced by animals. In turn they release oxygen in fresh air for human consumption. They also contribute to the dietary needs of herbivores. The role of plants in human lives is especially important. Humans depend on animals for food along plants. There are certain essential compounds that plants are known to provide in diet. Antioxidants and essential vitamins from plants help maintain good health in humans.
Plants are also used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industries. This is due to the production of secondary metabolites. Compounds like phenols, flavonoids and terpenes are plant derived. They play an important role in the defense system of plants. Such compounds have commercial applications due to their high antioxidant activity. Antioxidant properties in various commercial preparations enhance their value. They are essential in some pharmaceutical products for the treatment of associated diseases.
Plants rich in beneficial secondary metabolites used in pharmaceuticals industry are termed as medicinal. Thorough research into their composition often leads to discovery of new compounds. Such plants are required in massive quantities after discovery of useful compounds. Study of their growth and yield helps identify the steps of the process that can be enhanced. Potential problems hindering the required growth can also be noticed.
Coleus forskohlii is a medicinal plant known for its antioxidant activity. It grows along a wide altitudinal range of 500-2300 m. Plants grown at surface level and high altitudes differ greatly in their process. High altitude poses the risk of reduced growth and yield. The colder temperature is unfavorable for plant growth. Magnified intensity of the UV radiation at high altitudes is another cause of extreme conditions for growth. The unfavorable conditions pose a risk of reduced antioxidant activity. This can limit the use of valuable compounds in synthetic preparations.
Pawan Singh Rana along with a group of researchers studied the effect of different altitudes on antioxidant activity of C. forskohlii. The experiments were conducted using samples from five different locations of varying altitudes. The research confirmed the negative effect of rising altitude on the quantity of secondary metabolites. The research article was published in the Research Journal of Medicinal Plants.
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