Agri - Kaleidoscope - Genetic Resources of North East India
Vavilov developed the concept of geographic centers of variability and commonly referred as “Gene centers” or “Vavilov centers”. He identified Asia as a major center of genetic diversity. Within Asia there are Chinese center, Indo Malayan center, Central Asiatic center and the Indian center. The north eastern region is considered to be the primary and secondary source of origin of all genetic diversity. The region is a part of the Vavilovian gene centre for many important cultivated plant species and is considered as one of the primary and secondary centers of many crops with wide variability for several cultivated crops, as well as, other plant species. Plant genetic resources represent the sum total of diversity accumulated in various species of plants through years of evolution under natural selection as well as under domestication. Thus the genetic resources come from 1. the wild species and primitive forms in the primary centers of diversity or 2. plant introductions or migrations or trans-domestications in the secondary centers of diversity and 3. the plant materials developed through selection as well as hybridization. Hooker initially described the flora of Khasi Hills to be Malayan type. The diversified ecological habitats in the region support a rich biodiversity spanning from sub tropical rain forests to alpine scrubs. It is described as 'Cradle of flowering plant' due to its angiosperm diversity. High diversity of oaks, bamboos (84 species), rhododendrons (117 species), magnolias, orchids (800 species), zingibers (88 species), primulas (100 species) ferns and about 5000 medicinal and aromatic plant species etc. prevail in this region. In addition, it is well known for its richness in variety of land races or primitive cultivars of several agri-horticultural crops besides a huge floristic wealth of great economic importance.