Sweet ginger, scientifically known as Alpinia coriandriodora D. Fangis a well-known perennial plant, mostly used as a flavoring agent and vegetable, with a very piquant spicy taste and low fiber content, this plant is rich in iron and essential oil. There are several other species of Alpinia, used for their medicinal, ornamental, and economic value. It forms the majority of the understory vegetation in different regions of the world like tropical, subtropical Asian, pacific islands, etc. It is easily distinguishable because of its pendulous labellum and short filament. Alpinia genus belongs to Zingiberaceae or ginger family with some 250 species, coriandriodora is of great importance due to its cultural, medicinal, and dietary uses. The phylogenetic data about A. coriandriodora with other Alpinia has been deficient.
This gap has been covered by the researchers at The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology who carried out a detailed analysis of its phylogenetic position within Alpinia and also interpreted the evolutionary significant features of this plant for recommending relevant points for its conservation. From the year 2019 to 2020, they collected different samples of Alpinia and done taxon sampling, DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, and molecular phylogenetic analysis. For studying morphological character evolution, 23 species of Alpinia were selected and out grouped in an attempt to reconstruct the ancestral characters. The key morphological characters highlighted and observed in this study for optimization of ancestral character were leaf tomentum, inflorescence type, inflorescence rachis tomentum, ovary tomentum, filament, bract, and staminodes. Later ‘Trace Character History’ was used to reconstruct each characteristic.
The researchers working on this project generated 12 novel sequences and submitted them to GenBank. Xuan Duong Vu and his team found a close relation of Alpinia coriandriodora D. Fang with the other Alpinia of southern China, with an ability to adapt to the pollination by local insects, and therefore Alpinia depends upon those insects for increasing its population. Moreover, evolutionary proximity was observed among A. coriandriodora and A. stachyodes, whereas, A. warbugii was placed away from the clade.
An endemic species of Alpinia, A. bambusifolia also showed closed ancestral association with Alpinia coriandriodora, but differs because of its leaf shape, the color of the calyx, labellum, and shape of fruits.Future work should be targeted on developing the molecular data of A. bambusifolia to identify its phylogenetic relationship with other Alpinia. A close evolutionary relationship was observed between A. coriandriodora and Alpinia obtained from the flora of Vietnam, that is; 19 out of 34 Vietnamese Alpinia showed close clade level based onmolecular analysis.
The A. coriandriodora molecular analysis provided valuable information about the conservation and management of this endangered species. A strong evolutionary capacity of A. coriandriodora has been observed, which brings hope to its chances of survival if provided with the right environment and opportunities. By limiting habitat degradation, fragmentation, and overexploitation by humans these species could be conserved. Its small population size and limited geographical habitat contribute to inbreeding recession, therefore more conservation and restoration strategies should be designed A. coriandriodora.
Alpinia coriandriodora, Alpinia, evolution, survival, molecular analyses, Vietnamese Alpinia, Character history, GenBank, phylogenetic analysis