Traditional Knowledge of Tribal Communities in Islands of India with reference to Medicinal Plants (TRaMP)

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The Project

One of the thrust areas of research targeted by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is “studies on conservation and enhancement of biological diversity including rare, endangered, threatened, endemic, economically and ecologically important taxa”. Based on this, the present study has been formulated to focus on medicinal plants of island environment used by tribal communities.  The tribal communities of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) are a reservoir of vast knowledge. The tribal people of the ANI are neither ‘primitive’ nor living in the ‘stone age’. The tribal people live in evergreen forest inside and are dependent on many medicinal plants growing nearby areas for their remedies. Living close to nature (pristine environment), the tribal people have acquired knowledge on the natural resources that exists around their habitat in the forest ecosystem.

They have been using medicinal plants including mangroves for treatment of various diseases since ages. Research into the scientific validation of medicinal plants used by tribal communities in ANI to treat various diseases has not been attempted so far. Very little knowledge has been documented on this aspect. An attempt will be made, through this study, to analyse the scientific basis of this knowledge by encouraging some studies on bioactive compounds of different mangrove species. This will receive attention of the pharmaceutical and scientific communities to develop new effective drugs.


To understand the scientific basis on the use of traditional and herbal medicines that are being practiced by the tribal populations of Andaman and Nicobar for ages for treating a wide variety of ailments.


  • Documenting from literature collection of Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Traditional Practice (TP) of Islands Communities.

  • Sample collection of the mangroves plant species used for medicinal purpose by the tribal communities of ANI.

  • Analysis of bioactive compounds of mangrove species that are having medicinal properties.

  • Analysis of antimicrobial activity

  • Analysis of anticancer activity

  • Analysis of antioxidant activity

  • DNA barcoding, conservation genetic and functional gene finding studies on mangroves of ANI used for medicinal purpose by tribal populations.

Key Findings

Sl. No.Bioactive Compound NameBioprospecting Study of Medicinal values of Mangrove plants of Islands
1Gallic acid from Ceriops tagal  Anticancer Activities

Antioxidant Activities

Antimicrobial activities


(Rhizophora mucronata)

Anticancer Activities

Antioxidant Activities

Antimicrobial activities

37- Hydroxy flavone

(Avicennia officinalis)

o   Antioxidant

o   Antimicrobial

o   Anticancer

o   Antidiabetic

o   Anti-inflammatory

o   Antifouling

4Ellagic acid

(Rhizophora apiculata)

o   Anticancer

o   Anti-inflammatory

o   Antifouling

o   Antioxidant


(Excoecaria agallocha)

o   Anticancer

o   Antioxidant

Anticancer activity of Bioactive compound of Gallic acid

The anticancer activity of isolated bioactive compound of Gallic acid was  evaluated by in vitro assays against two human cancer cell lines namely, HeLa (Cervical) and MDA-MB231 (Breast) cancer cells revealed that IC50 values of gallic acid (HeLa: 4.179197 ± 0.45 µg/ml; MDA-MB231: 80.0427 ± 0.19 µg/ml at 24 h), respectively.

Antioxidant properties of Gallic acid are found to be IC50 value of 0.77 ± 0.41 µg/ml.

Docking Study of Gallic acid

Molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulation studies:

Bcl-B is a novel member of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein, this protein has two BH domains (BH1: 86-105 and BH2: 156-167) and a carboxyl transmembrane domain (183-200).

Ligand molecules bind to the binding groove of Bcl-B protein, which is very important for the activity of the protein. Gallic acid is showing higher binding affinity (ΔG: -5.4 kcal/mol) towards drug target protein.

The present study provides key insights about the importance of polyphenols, and thus leads to open the therapeutic route for anticancer drug discovery process.


  • Scientific Validation: Analysis of natural products studies and compound extraction and purification from indigenous knowledge on medicinal values of mangrove plants of ANI.
  • Report preparation and documentation on web for conservation and management of medicinal values mangroves plants.
  • DNA barcode, phylogenetic, of medicinal values mangrove plant of ANI used by tribal population – baseline data gathering for genetic resources development for future drug development, conservation and management plan propose.
  • Locality of Islanders would be involved to cultivate/gardening the medicinal plants for their economic uplift and betterment of the society.