Specific features of Soma plant are implict from various references in Rigveda enabling its identity as ephedra. Its juice is an energizer – cum – euphoriant contrary to the intoxicant sura. Sura is beer prepared from barely malt. Soma is the juice of ephedra rich in ephedrine which is antisomnalent. At least one use of soma has never been substituted, as the drink of longevity for a newly born child.
In Rigveda Soma is an evergreen plant, with thousand stalks yellow hued bestowing auspicious energy. Resembling yellow fibres of hemp ephedra was rained in Chlnoso Ho-Ma, Yellow-hemp. It was Sanskritized as Soma. Being an energizer-cum-euphoriant its juice was consumed thrice daily. Finally it became a drug of longevity, rejuvenation and resurrection even god Soma. As drug it was substituted by Rasayana promisiig rejuvenation but also salvation. Soma with Water and Fire constitutes the proto-cosmology of Rigveda.
The ma huang herb, otherwise known as ephedra, has gained widespread popularity as an ergogenic supplement. With the sympathomimetic alkaloid ephedrine as its primary active ingredient, ma huang is marketed to reduce fatigue; increase strength, power, and speed; decrease reaction time; and improve body composition. Although numerous side effects have been associated with the use of ma huang, its popularity in athletes continues to grow. This review provides rationale for the ergogenic claims regarding ma huang and compares and contrasts those claims with data from scientifically controlled investigations.
MEDLINE and SPORT Discus were searched from 1970 to 2000 using the key words ma huang, ephedra, and ephedrine in combination with humans, exercise, performance, and side effects.
Ephedrine has been used alone or in combination with other drugs as an effective weight-loss agent. The weight loss has been attributed to thermogenic and lipolytic effects which, in combination with the central nervous system stimulating effects, have also resulted in its use as an ergogenic aid. Most of the scientific data, however, do not support manufacturers' ergogenic claims, and numerous side effects have been associated with ephedrine use. Thus, the safety and efficacy of ma huang as an ergogenic supplement must be questioned.
It appears that the risks associated with the use of ma huang far outweigh any possible ergogenic benefits. Thus, it is extremely important that athletic trainers educate athletes on these issues so they can continue to perform at an optimum level in a safe and healthy manner.
ma huang; ephedrine; ergogenic aid; performance enhancement
In conjunction with an AOAC Task Group on dietary supplements, a liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) method was validated for measurement of 6 major alkaloids in raw ephedra sinica herb, ephedra extracts, ephedra tablets, complex dietary supplements containing ephedra, and a high-protein drink mix containing ephedra. The amount of ephedrine-type alkaloids present was determined by LC with mass selective detection. Six replicates of each matrix were analyzed on 3 separate occasions. The presence of 6 ephedrine-type alkaloids was detected at a level >0.5 μg/g based on a 0.5 g sample. The standard curve range for this assay is from 0.02 to 1.0 μg/mL. Appropriate dilutions covered a wide range of specific alkaloid concentrations. The calibration curves for all 6 analytes had correlation coefficients >0.995.
An international collaborative study was conducted of a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-UV method for the determination of the major (ephedrine [EP] and pseudoephedrine [PS]) and minor (norephedrine [NE], norpseudoephedrine [NP], methylephedrine [ME], and methylpseudoephedrine [MP]) alkaloids in selected dietary supplements representative of the commercially available products. Ten collaborating laboratories determined the ephedrine-type alkaloid content in 8 blind replicate samples. Five products contained ephedra ground herb or ephedra extract. These 5 products included ground botanical raw material of Ephedra sinica, a common powdered extract of Ephedra sinica, a finished product containing only Ephedra sinica ground botanical raw material, a complex multicomponent dietary supplement containing Ma Huang, and a high-protein chocolate flavored drink mix containing Ma Huang extract. In addition, collaborating laboratories received a negative control and negative control spiked with ephedrine alkaloids at high and low levels for recovery studies. Test extracts were treated to solid-phase extraction using a strong-cation exchange column to help remove interferences. The HPLC analyses were performed on a polar-embedded phenyl column using UV detection at 210 nm. Repeatability relative standard deviations (RSDr) ranged from 0.64–3.0% for EP and 2.0–6.6% for PS, excluding the high protein drink mix. Reproducibility relative standard deviations (RSDR) ranged from 2.1–6.6% for EP and 9.0–11.4% for PS, excluding the high protein drink mix. Recoveries ranged from 84.7–87.2% for EP and 84.6–98.2% for PS. The data developed for the minor alkaloids are more variable with generally unsatisfactory HORRATS(i.e., >2). However, since these alkaloids generally add little to the total alkaloid content of the products, the method gives satisfactory results in measuring total alkaloid content (RSDr 0.85–3.13%; RSDR 2.03–10.97%, HORRAT 0.69–3.23, exclusive of the results from the high protein drink). On the basis of these results, the method is recommended for Official First Action for determination of EP and PS in dietary supplements exclusive of the high protein drinks.
Antioxidant capacities of 56 selected Chinese medicinal plants were evaluated using the Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assays, and their total phenolic content was measured by the Folin-Ciocalteu method. The strong correlation between TEAC value and FRAP value suggested that the antioxidants in these plants possess free radical scavenging activity and oxidant reducing power, and the high positive correlation between antioxidant capacities and total phenolic content implied that phenolic compounds are a major contributor to the antioxidant activity of these plants. The results showed that Dioscorea bulbifera, Eriobotrya japonica, Tussilago farfara and Ephedra sinica could be potential rich sources of natural antioxidants.
medicinal plant; phenolic content; antioxidant capacity
Knowledge on fossil and evolutionary history of the Gnetales has expanded rapidly; Ephedra and ephedroids as well as the Gnetum-Welwitschia clade are now well documented in the Early Cretaceous. However, hypotheses on evolutionary relationships among living and fossil species are hampered by restricted knowledge of morphological variation in living groups and recent studies indicate that gnetalean diversity and character evolution may be more complex than previously assumed and involve additional extinct groups (Bennettitales, Erdtmanithecales and unassigned fossil taxa).
Here we describe a new fossil related to Gnetales, Siphonospermum simplex from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation, an impression/compression of a reproductive shoot. The slender main axis bears one pair of opposite and linear leaves with primary parallel venation. The reproductive units are ovoid, without supporting bracts and borne on one median and two lateral branches. The most conspicuous feature of the fossil is the long, thread-like micropylar tube formed by the integument. Each ovule is surrounded by two different layers representing one or two seed envelopes; an inner sclerenchymatous layer and an outer probably parenchymatous layer.
The vegetative and reproductive features of Siphonospermum simplex exclude a relationship to any other group than the Gnetales. A combination of opposite phyllotaxis, linear leaves and ovules surrounded by seed envelope(s) and with a long exposed micropylar tube are known only for extant and extinct Gnetales. Siphonospermum simplex constitutes a new lineage within the Gnetales. Its morphology cannot be directly linked to any previously known plant, but the organization of the reproductive units indicates that it belongs to the Gnetum-Welwitschia clade. Based on the absence of cone bracts and the inferred histology of the seed envelope(s) it could be related to Gnetum, however, there are also affinities with the ephedran lineage, some of which are likely plesiomorphic features, others perhaps not. Phylogeny and character evolution in the Bennettitales, Erdtmanithecales and Gnetales are currently only partly understood and under debate; the exact systematic position of Siphonospermum simplex, i.e., its position within the Gnetales, cannot be resolved with certainty.
Soma was originally Sauma as the Sanskrit form of the Avesta name Haoma. It is a loan word from the Chinese term, Hao-Ma, fire coloured hempior fibrous items like hemp and also coloured yellow with a tinge of brown. The Aryans as hunters took its juice as anti-fatigue drink. It was extolled as panacea and even as drink of longevity. The plant and its stalks were crushed between stones to produce juice. There arose different fractions and these have been given in a regular chart here.
As it is well served with the same Aryan and Dravidian primarily in India has developed two cultures to protect human health and resources to suit your needs individually developed treatment methods. Who stated in Ayurveda and Siddha. Ayurveda is expanding, but Siddha could not get into the main stream. Received medical science has Siddha valuable sources resulting from human community is deprived vast majority of today. Received medical science has Siddha purpose of this study contain the main stream in is.
History of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, History of Indian Sciences, Rigvedas, Atharvavedas, Sangamsahitya, Charaksaamhita, Shaiva Shakta Tantra etc and public mythics present study were used as the sources.
The study found that the difficulty of language of obtaining siddha was not included in the main stream of Indian medication., Then the formulas of Siddha therapeutics, the global medical science not only the rich are able to.
The study also the conclusion of this study is that Indian society during the long evolutionary journey Aryan and Dravidian cultures as Siddha and Ayurveda are also mixed in their experiences and medical sources interchange wealthy have been themselves but its originality is maintained. Which consists in the fact that the botanical worlds where Ayurveda Himalayas while the original basis Siddha medicinal seaside minerals suit their environment, chemicals, and herbs the original base. Siddha medicine even today in the poisons, minerals, and ease of purification methods are available, whose use in the current upgrade medical science and is helpful in advancement and enrichment revealed that development and use of drugs in the locality, culture and the environment is essential to keep in mind.
Cigarette smokers have an increased risk for coronary artery disease. Nicotine present in cigarettes can adversely affect the cardiovascular system via stimulation of both sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons. Caffeine, another cardiovascular and central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, is commonly found in Ephedra and Ephedra-free dietary supplements. These caffeine-containing supplements also have been linked to cardiovascular toxicities. Although no longer on the U.S market, Ephedra-containing supplements are another source of cardiovascular and CNS stimulants, namely the ephedrine alkaloids. Together caffeine, nicotine, and ephedrine can individually stress the cardiovascular system, and an overlap of these agents is predicted in smokers and dieters. To understand the collective effects of these stimulants on the heart morphology and ultrastructure, rats were exposed to synthetic combinations of nicotine (0.2 mg/kg/day), ephedrine (0–30 mg/kg/day), and/or caffeine (0–24 mg/kg/day) as well as an extract from a caffeine-containing Ephedra supplement (Metabolife 356). After exposure for 3 days, the hearts were removed and examined for hypersensitivity myocarditis and myocardial necrosis. None of the drugs tested alone affected heart tissue morphology, nor were atypical cardiac cells observed. However, in combination, significant interactions were found between caffeine and ephedrine; the interventricular septum was most susceptible, with a significant increase in atypical cardiac cells observed. Nicotine pretreatment caused greater susceptibility to cardiotoxicity associated with combinations of caffeine + ephedrine or Metabolife, particularly in the left ventricle wall. These results indicate that sympathomimetic combinations present in Ephedra supplements may have produced cardiotoxicity reported in consumers of these products. Moreover, the presence of nicotine exacerbates these toxic effects.
Palynomorphs extracted from the mud coffins and plant remains preserved at the archaeological site of Xiaohe Cemetery (Cal. 3980 to 3540 years BP) in Lop Nur Desert of Xinjiang, China were investigated for the reconstruction of the ancient environments at the site. The results demonstrate that the Xiaohe People lived at a well-developed oasis, which was surrounded by extensive desert. The vegetation in the oasis consisted of Populus, Phragmites, Typha and probably of Gramineae, while the desert surrounding the oasis had some common drought-resistant plants dominated by Ephedra, Tamarix, Artemisia and Chenopodiaceae. This present work provides the first data of the environmental background at this site for further archaeological investigation.
Ephedrine and herbal ephedra preparations have been shown to induce a small-to-moderate weight loss. Owing to reports on serious cardiovascular events, they were banned from the US market in 2004. There have been no large controlled studies on the possible association between prescribed ephedrine/caffeine and cardiovascular events in general. The authors linked data from four different sources within Statistics Denmark, using data on 257,364 users of prescribed ephedrine/caffeine for the period 1995–2002. The data were analyzed using a case-crossover technique with a composite endpoint: death outside of a hospital, myocardial infarction, or stroke. To account for effects of chronic exposure and effects in naïve users, the authors performed a secondary case-control study nested within the cohort of ephedrine/caffeine ever users. Among 2,316 case subjects, 282 (12.2%) were current users of ephedrine/caffeine. The case-crossover analysis yielded an odds ratio of 0.84 (95% confidence interval: 0.71, 1.00); after adjustment for trends in ephedrine/caffeine use, it was 0.95 (95% confidence interval: 0.79, 1.16). Subgroup analyses revealed no strata with significantly elevated risk. In the case-control substudy, there was no increased risk among naïve users or users with large cumulative doses. Prescribed ephedrine/caffeine was not associated with a substantially increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes in this study.
Ephedra sinica; ephedrine; mortality; myocardial infarction; stroke
The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) has become one of the hotspots for phylogeographical studies due to its high species diversity. However, most previous studies have focused on the effects of the Quaternary glaciations on phylogeographical structures and the locations of glacial refugia, and little is known about the effects of the aridization of interior Asia on plant population structure and speciation. Here the chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) trnT-trnF and trnS-trnfM sequences were used to investigate the differentiation and phylogeographical history of 14 Ephedra species from the QTP and northern China, based on a sampling of 107 populations. The phylogeographical analysis, together with phylogenetic reconstruction based on combined four cpDNA fragments (rbcL, rpl16, rps4, and trnS-trnfM), supports three main lineages (eastern QTP, southern QTP, and northern China) of these Ephedra species. Divergence of each lineage could be dated to the Middle or Late Miocene, and was very likely linked to the uplift of the QTP and the Asian aridification, given the high drought and/or cold tolerance of Ephedra. Most of the Ephedra species had low intraspecific variation and lacked a strong phylogeographical structure, which could be partially attributed to clonal reproduction and a relatively recent origin. In addition, ten of the detected 25 cpDNA haplotypes are shared among species, suggesting that a wide sampling of species is helpful to investigate the origin of observed haplotypes and make reliable phylogeographical inference. Moreover, the systematic positions of some Ephedra species are discussed.
Background and Aims
Plants of Ephedra normally have vessels, but are known to become nearly vessel-less in some alpine localities. Previous studies implied that wood formation in Ephedra differs fundamentally from that in dicotyledons in which vessel-bearing and vessel-less taxa are systematically distinct. Using E. pachyclada in the Mustang district of Nepal, growing in an altitudinal range of over 2000 m, variation in wood formation and adaptation to alpine environment was studied in this normally vessel-bearing species.
Variation in wood anatomy and wood formation was observed with conventional optical microscopy. The lengths of three kinds of tracheary elements were measured and statistically analysed against habitat altitude and plant size of the individuals studied.
In E. pachyclada three kinds of tracheary elements, vessel elements, tracheids and fibre-tracheids, were nearly equal in length within individuals showing no elongation after differentiation from cambial initials. Tracheary element lengths among individuals had a negative correlation with altitude and a positive correlation with plant size. Multivariate analyses showed that altitude has a stronger correlation with tracheary element lengths than plant height or stem diameter. Moreover, several individuals from high elevations completely lacked vessels, and vessel formation fluctuated even in individuals from lower elevations.
Wood anatomical trends in E. pachyclada are considered as an adaptation to extremely dry conditions in high mountains. Fluctuation in vessel formation in individuals from low elevations indicated that vessels differentiate only when their lateral expansion is allowed. These results showed that E. pachyclada has a different system of wood formation from dicotyledons and supported the opinion that the wood structure of Gnetales is fundamentally different from that of angiosperms.
Ephedra pachyclada; Gnetales; habitat altitude; plant height; stem diameter; tracheary element length; vessel loss; wood formation
• Background and Aims The extant species of the seed plant group Gnetales (Ephedra, Gnetum and Welwitschia) have been considered a remnant of a much greater, now extinct, diversity due to the pronounced differences in form and ecology among the genera. Until recently, this hypothesis has not been supported by evidence from the fossil record. This paper adds to the expanding information on Gnetales from the Early Cretaceous and describes coalified seeds from Barremian-Albian localities in Portugal and USA.
• Methods The fossils were extracted from sediment samples by sieving in water. Adhering mineral matrix was removed by chemical treatment. Seeds were investigated using light and scanning electron microscopy. Morphology and anatomy of the seeds were documented and compared with those of extant species.
• Key Results The fossils share characters with extant Ephedra, for example papillae on the inner surface of the seed envelope and in situ polyplicate pollen grains that shed the exine during germination. They differ from extant Ephedra seeds in morphological and anatomical details as well as in their smaller size. Two new species of Ephedra are described together with one species assigned to a new genus of Gnetales. Other Ephedra-like seeds, for which pollen and critical morphological details are currently unknown, are also present in the samples.
• Conclusions These Cretaceous seeds document that key reproductive characters and pollen germination processes have remained unchanged within Ephedra for about 120 million years or more. There is sufficient variety in details of morphology to suggest that a diversity of Ephedra and Ephedra-like species were present in the Early Cretaceous flora. Their presence in Portugal and eastern North America indicates that they were widespread on the Laurasian continent. The fossil seeds are similar to seeds of Erdtmanithecales and this supports the previously suggested relationship between Erdtmanithecales and Gnetales.
Early Cretaceous; Ephedra; Erdtmanispermum; Erdtmanithecales; Eucommiidites; fossil pollen; fossils; Gnetales; Portugal; Potomac Group; seeds
Ischemic colitis is a condition that usually occurs in the elderly, as a form of vascular disease. However, ischemic colitis also occurs, though rarely, in healthy young adults. Moreover, food supplements containing Ephedra sinica or ma huang have been linked to adverse central nervous and cardiovascular events. A 40-year-old man was admitted to our emergency department after 2 episodes of abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea that lasted 24 hours. His medical history was unremarkable for risk factors of bowel ischemia, except for well-controlled hypertension. However, a weight-loss supplement, Ephedra sinica, had been prescribed for daily use during the previous month. Both abdominal/pelvic computed tomography and colonoscopy revealed findings compatible with ischemic colitis. His conditions spontaneously improved without any serious complications, and he was advised to discontinue the use of herbal medications containing ephedrine. In this paper, we describe a case of ischemic colitis that was potentially linked to the use of ma huang with a review of the relevant literature.
Ischemic colitis; ephedra sinica; ma huang
Asthma is a common disease that is rising in prevalence worldwide with the highest prevalence in industrialized countries. Asthma affect about 300 million people worldwide and it has been estimated that a further 100 million will be affected by 2025. Since the ancient times, plants have been exemplary sources of medicine. Current asthma therapy lack satisfactory success due to adverse effect, hence patients are seeking complementary and alternative medicine to treat their asthma. Ayurveda and other Indian literature mention the use of plants in various human ailments. India has about 45 000 plant species and among them several thousand are claimed to possess medicinal properties. Researches conducted in the last few decades on the plants mentioned in ancient literature or used traditionally for asthma have shown antiasthmatic, antihistaminic and antiallergic activity. This review reveals that some plants and their extract have antiasthmatic, antihistaminic, anticholinergic and antiallergic activity.
Asthma; Antiasthmatic plants; Ayurveda; Herbal medicines; Antiallergic activity; Medicinal property
Our genome has evolved to perpetuate itself through the maintenance of the species via an uninterrupted chain of reproductive somas. Accordingly, evolution is not concerned with diseases occurring after the soma's reproductive stage. Following Richard Dawkins, we would like to reassert that we indeed live as disposable somas, slaves of our germline genome, but could soon start rebelling against such slavery. Cancer and its relation to the TP53 gene may offer a paradigmatic example. The observation that the latency period in cancer can be prolonged in mice by increasing the number of TP53 genes in their genome, suggests that sooner or later we will have to address the question of heritable disease avoidance via the manipulation of the human germline.
Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world, and one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites. Despite this importance, very little information exits on the cities flora in general, and medicinal species found within its limit in particular. Traditional medicine plays a large role in Indian society. The presented study attempted to investigate if traditional plant use and availability of important common medicinal plants are maintained in urban environments. The paper presents information on the traditional uses of seventy-two plant species collected form the campus of Banares Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and highlights the uses of these plants by the local inhabitants.
This paper summarises the common modalities that are available for researching ancient medicine and disease as well as explaining how some of these sources have survived to modern day. These are explained under the three broad headings of palaeopathology, artefacts, and texts. The descriptions use a variety of examples from ancient societies including in the Bronze Age, Babylonia and Assyria, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome to help explain these modalities. In addition, a review of the advantages and disadvantages of using these tools is included to help current and future historians in stimulating future research in this fascinating area.
artefacts; history of ancient medicine; history of medicine; palaeopathology; texts
A field survey was carried out to record plant species climbed by Ephedra alte in certain parts of Jordan during 2008–2010. Forty species of shrubs, ornamental, fruit, and forest trees belonging to 24 plant families suffered from the climbing habit of E. alte. Growth of host plants was adversely affected by E. alte growth that extended over their vegetation. In addition to its possible competition for water and nutrients, the extensive growth it forms over host species prevents photosynthesis, smothers growth and makes plants die underneath the extensive cover. However, E. alte did not climb all plant species, indicating a host preference range. Damaged fruit trees included Amygdalus communis, Citrus aurantifolia, Ficus carica, Olea europaea, Opuntia ficus-indica, and Punica granatum. Forestry species that were adversely affected included Acacia cyanophylla, Ceratonia siliqua, Crataegus azarolus, Cupressus sempervirens, Pinus halepensis, Pistacia atlantica, Pistacia palaestina, Quercus coccifera, Quercus infectoria, Retama raetam, Rhamnus palaestina, Rhus tripartita, and Zizyphus spina-christi. Woody ornamentals attacked were Ailanthus altissima, Hedera helix, Jasminum fruticans, Jasminum grandiflorum, Nerium oleander, and Pyracantha coccinea. Results indicated that E. alte is a strong competitive for light and can completely smother plants supporting its growth. A. communis, F. carica, R. palaestina, and C. azarolus were most frequently attacked.
Plants were, and still are, widely used for a number of conditions affecting women in California. This article discusses traditional remedies of the Chumash for dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, feminine hygiene, heavy menstruation, urinary tract infections, parturition, lactation, infant care, menopause, sexually transmitted diseases, fertility, contraception and abortions. Many plants are presented including Artemisia douglasiana, Paeonia californica, Trichostema lanatum, Salvia apiana, Ephedra viridis, Leymus condensatus, Vitis californica, Eschscholzia californica, Rosa californica, Scirpus acutus, Anemopsis californica and Phoradendron macrophyllum. By providing the specific uses of plants for specific diseases and discussing chemistry, efficacy and safety concerns for each plant, we hope that this article gives direction to women seeking to use plants in their health care.
Artemisia douglasiana; childbirth; dysmenorrhea; menopause
Four medicinal plants (Chrozophora hierosolymitana Spreng, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum L., Ephedra gerardiana Wall. ex Stapf, and Quercus dilatata L.) used by indigenous healers to treat various infectious diseases were selected for the present study. The major objective of the present study was isolation and characterization of antimicrobial components from the crude plant extracts using bioassay guided fractionation.
Seven methanolic extracts of the four plants were screened to identify any antimicrobial agents present in them. The active crude plant extract was fractionated first by solvent partitioning and then by HPLC. Characterization of the active fractions was done by using spectrophotometer.
All the seven methanolic extracts showed low antifungal activity, however, when these extracts were tested for antibacterial activity, significant activity was exhibited by two extracts. The extract of aerial parts of Q. dilatata was most active and therefore, was selected for further analysis. Initially fractionation was done by solvent-solvent partitioning and out of six partitioned fractions, ethanol fraction was selected on the basis of results of antibacterial activity and phytochemical analysis. Further, fractionation was carried out by RP- HPLC and purified active subfractions were characterized by comparing their absorption spectra with that of the known natural products isolated from the plants of Quercus genus.
Discussion and conclusion
The results suggest that this is the first report of the isolated antibacterial compounds from this genus.
Absorption spectrum; Antibacterial activity; Phytochemical analysis; RP-HPLC analysis; Solvent partitioning
The extant Gnetales include three monotypic families, namely, Ephedraceae (Ephedra), Gnetaceae (Gnetum), and Welwitschiaceae (Welwitschia), all of which possess compound female cones that comprise a main axis and 1 to multiple pairs/whorls of bracts subtending a female reproductive unit or having lower pairs/whorls of bracts sterile. However, the evolutionary origin of such a reproductive architecture in Gnetales is controversial in the light of the competing anthophyte versus gnetifer hypotheses of seed plant relationships. Hence, macrofossils demonstrating the structure of compound female cones of the Gnetales should be important to decipher the early evolution of the order.
A new ephedroid plant Chengia laxispicata gen. et sp. nov. is described from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, Northeast China. The fossil represents a part of a leafy shooting system with reproductive organs attached. The main shoot bears internodes and swollen nodes, from which lateral branches arise oppositely. Reproductive organs consist of female spikes terminal to twigs or axillary to linear leaves. Spikes are loosely arranged, having prominent nodes and internodes. Bracts of the spikes are decussately opposite and comprise 4—8 pairs of bracts. Each bract subtends an ellipsoid seed. Seeds are sessile, with a thin outer envelope and a distal micropylar tube.
Chengia laxispicata gen. et sp. nov. provides a missing link between archetypal fertile organs in the crown lineage of the Gnetales and compound female cones of the extant Ephedraceae. Combined with a wealth of Ephedra and ephedroid macrofossils from the Early Cretaceous, we propose a reduction and sterilization hypothesis that the female cone of the extant Ephedraceae may have stemmed from archetypal fertile organs in the crown lineage of the Gnetales. These have undergone sequentially intermediate links similar to female cones of Cretaceous Siphonospermum, Chengia, and Liaoxia by reduction and sterilization of the lower fertile bracts, shortenings of internodes and peduncles as well as loss of reproductive units in all inferior bracts. The basal family Ephedraceae including Ephedra of the extant Gnetales was demonstrated to have considerable diversity by the Early Cretaceous, so an emended familial diagnosis is given here. The Jehol Biota in Northeast China and adjacent areas contains a plethora of well-preserved macrofossils of Ephedra and ephedroids that show different evolutionary stages including primitive and derived characters of Ephedraceae, so Northeast China and adjacent areas may represent either the centre of origination or one of the centres for early diversification of the family.
Biogeography; Chengia; Early Cretaceous; Ephedraceae; Ephedroid; Evolution; Female cone; Gnetales; Jehol biota; Reduction and sterilization hypothesis; Yixian Formation
Partial 16S ribosomal DNAs (rDNAs) were PCR amplified and sequenced from Frankia strains living in root nodules of plants belonging to the families Elaeagnaceae and Rhamnaceae, including Colletia hystrix, Elaeagnus angustifolia, an unidentified Elaeagnus sp., Talguenea quinquenervia, and Trevoa trinervis. Nearly full-length 16S rDNAs were sequenced from strains of Frankia living in nodules of Ceanothus americanus, C. hystrix, Coriaria arborea, and Trevoa trinervis. Partial sequences also were obtained from Frankia strains isolated and cultured from the nodules of C. hystrix, Discaria serratifolia, D. trinervis, Retanilla ephedra, T. quinquenervia, and T. trinervis (Rhamnaceae). Comparison of these sequences and other published sequences of Frankia 16S rDNA reveals that the microsymbionts and isolated strains from the two plant families form a distinct phylogenetic clade, except for those from C. americanus. All sequences in the clade have a common 2-base deletion compared with other Frankia strains. Sequences from C. americanus nodules lack the deletion and cluster with Frankia strains infecting plants of the family Rosaceae. Published plant phylogenies (based on chloroplast rbcL sequences) group the members of the families Elaeagnaceae and Rhamnaceae together in the same clade. Thus, with the exception of C. americanus, actinorhizal plants of these families and their Frankia microsymbionts share a common symbiotic origin.