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Title Cryptic diversity of rainforest-plants used for self medication and nutrition in DR Congo

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Short title Cryptic diversity of rainforest-plants

Author(s) Bondjengo, N.(1); Kitengie, G.(1); Musibono, D.(2); Fruth, B.(1)

Presenting author Bondjengo, N.

Institution(s) (1) Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, D; (2) University of Kinshasa, Dept. of Environment, Kinshasa, DRC.

Keywords Cuvette Centrale, medicinal plants, food plants, secondary compounds, cryptic diversity

Abstract Among other mechanisms, plants evolved secondary metabolites to protect themselves from predators and infections. Serving as antifeedants in some cases, they may be ingested for self-medication in others.

Here, we chose >60 species of wild rainforest species of central Congo basin, known to be ingested for either medical or nutritional use, including trees, shrubs, lianas and herbs. All used plant parts such as bark, roots, fruit and leaves underwent semiquantitative analysis. Alkaloid and cyanide content revealed consistency in abundance within and across some individuals of one species, but not in others. Almost ¾ of all plants investigated showed a high degree of variability, providing insight into the cryptic diversity of some species and their influencing factors such as habitat characteristics and season. We will discuss the implications of cryptic diversity for the use and application of indigenous food and medicine and its significance for the protection of habitats with respect to biodiversity assessments.

Congress Topic Congo project

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Ref. No. 520