Research supplies fascinating insights into mass bamboo flowering of northeast India


Fruit of the bamboo species Melocanna baccifera.
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

A examine spanning 13 years has shed attention-grabbing gentle on flowering in Melocanna baccifera, a tropical bamboo species that has lengthy fascinated researchers for its affiliation with the incidence of ‘bamboo death,’ ‘rat floods’ and famines in northeast India.

Amongst different issues, researchers detected a correlation between the sugar content material within the fruit of Melocanna baccifera and the frenzied feeding and inhabitants increase in rats throughout ‘Mautam’, the cyclical, mass bamboo flowering that happens as soon as in 48 years.

Researchers noticed and listed a surprisingly massive number of animal guests/predators attracted by the fruit and flowers of this bamboo. Additionally they reported the highest-ever fruit manufacturing in a bamboo clump (456.67 kg).

The Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Backyard and Analysis Institute (JNTBGRI), Thiruvananthapuram, performed the examine between 2009 and 2022 at its Bambusetum the place the species was launched throughout 1988-1996.

A paper on the findings by Okay. C. Koshy, B. Gopakumar, Antony Sebastian, Ajikumaran Nair S., Anil John Johnson, Balaji Govindan, and B. Sabulal (director, JNTBGRI) has appeared within the scientific journal PLOS One on November 16.

Referred to as ‘Muli’ in northeast India, Melocanna baccifera is the biggest fruit-producing bamboo and is native to the northeast India-Myanmar area. Throughout its gregarious flowering, the bamboo produces massive fruits which draw animal guests/predators. Of those, black rats significantly relish the fleshy, berry-like fruit. Throughout this era, additionally they multiply quickly, a phenomenon dubbed as ‘rat flood.’ As soon as the fruits are gone, they begin devouring standing crops, inflicting famines which have claimed 1000’s of human lives.

Earlier, it was presumed that ‘high protein in fruits/seeds’ was attracting the rats. Nonetheless, a JNTBGRI examine in 2016 that was a part of the analysis discovered that the fruit really accommodates little or no protein. The predation is principally because of the excessive content material of sugars.

‘’The fruit chemistry has a big position within the predation, as fruits are consumed by predators based mostly on their style preferences to fruit sugars at numerous development levels,’‘ the researchers famous.

Fruit of Melocanna baccifera

Fruit of Melocanna baccifera
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

The bamboo fruit and flower entice an astonishing number of guests/predators. They embody pollen predators (honey bees), fruit predators (millipedes, slugs and snails, fruit borers, monkeys, rats, porcupines, wild boars and palm civets), seedling predators (rabbits, deer), and bug/pest predators (ants, mantis).

The flowering phenology and fruit manufacturing dynamics revealed via this examine are useful to foresters and other people concerned within the conservation of this bamboo, the JNTBGRI stated. Additional, the examine on fruit chemistry and its hyperlinks to predation and ‘rat flood’ may assist determine biomolecules helpful in medical analysis, it added.

The examine was funded by the Science and Engineering Analysis Board (SERB), the Division of Science and Technology, the Authorities of India, and the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Setting (KSCSTE) beneath the Kerala authorities.

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