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New Plant Species Discovered in Arunachal Pradesh Named After Botanist Dr. Janaki Ammal

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Guwahati, June 24: A new plant species found in Arunachal Pradesh is under threat of habitat degradation caused by rapid development activities.

The species Didymocarpus janakiae was discovered by Rhuthuparna S.B. and V. Gowda of the Tropical Ecology and Evolution Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research(IISER), Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh during field surveys conducted in northeast India, including Arunachal Pradesh, from July to September 2023 which is the flowering season for the Indian Didymocarpus.

Dr Vinita Gowda is an Associate professor while Rhuthuparna S.B. is PhD student at IISER.

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The authors say the species has been named in honour of Dr. E. K. Janaki Ammal, who is a pioneering Indian botanist, known for her contributions to the field of botany, especially plant breeding, genetics and cytology. In 1931, she became the first Indian woman to be awarded a doctorate in botany in the US (University of Michigan), breaking both gender and caste barriers.

“One of the most striking aspects of this discovery is the conservation status of Didymocarpus janakiae . With a limited known population of fewer than 20 individuals found in a single location near Bomdilla, West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, the species faces a critical threat due to habitat degradation caused by rapid development activities like road construction. Therefore the species has been suggested to be considered as a Critically Endangered species as per IUCN guidelines and underscores the urgent need for conservation efforts to safeguard the survival of this newly discovered plant species” the authors say.

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” D. janakiae is described from the sub-tropical forests of the West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh at an elevation of 2300 metres at sea level. It belongs to the plant genus Didymocarpus commonly known as stone flower which is part of the African Violet family (Gesneriaceae). The genus consists of 111 species out of which 27 species are present in India, including now the newly described species D. janakiae. They grow in pristine undisturbed habitats like moss-covered rocks and therefore their presence indicates the quality of the ecosystem” the authors said whose findings have been published in The Nordic Journal of Botany.

“Dr Janaki Ammal is an inspiration to many aspiring young researchers in STEM today as well as to all researchers in the TrEE lab, IISER Bhopal” the authors say.

Also Read: Tripura: 9 Bangladeshi nationals nabbed at Agartala Railway station

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