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Black cumin (Nigella sativa L.) – a review

  • A. B. N. Seal College, Cooch Behar

Abstract and Figures

Black cumin (Nigella sativa L., Family: Ranunculaceae) is an annual herb possessing wide range of medicinal uses apart from its commercial significance as a spice yielding plant. Black cumin seeds are used in folk (herbal) medicine all over the world for the treatment and prevention of a number of diseases. Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) said: "Use this Black Seed; it has a cure for every disease except death" (Sahih Bukhari). The plant species is also important cytogenetically and may be used as a model plant for better understanding of gene and chromosome relationship. Despite the major advancement of modern medicine in human health-care, it is still intangible and beyond reach to ailing humanity, especially the destitute and therefore in recent years plant based system has been utilized for traditional medicine and phytotherapy. 'Medicinal plants are gift of nature' and black cumin is one such plant with potential uses, which can be explore for safe and effective herbal medicine for human benefit. Considering nearly all essential aspects of the species (synonym(s), common names, origin of the name, distribution, varieties, plant description, floral biology, pollination biology, scanning electron microscopy of seed surfaces, cultivation, economy, diseases, pest, microscopical and powdered characteristics, biochemical constituents, extraction methods of essential oils, therapeutic uses, insecticidal activity, other uses, clinical trials, biosafety, tissue culture and patents), a monograph is prepared on the laid formulation of WHO (World Health Organization) as well as on other significant parameters (cytogenetics and molecular genetics) with the following objectives: to provide an unabridged repository of references regarding the species for its effective and safe utilization as a 'Potential Medicinal Herb'; for creating awareness regarding the use of plant based medicine; understanding economic status, biosafety and patents for regulating herbal medicinal market Nationally and Internationally and exploration of cytogenetical and genetical aspects.
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Journal of Plant Development Sciences Vol.4 (1): 1-43. 2012
Animesh K. Datta1*, Aditi Saha2, Arnab Bhattacharya1, Aninda Mandal1, Rita Paul3
and Sonali Sengupta4
1. Department of Botany, Cytogenetics and Plant Breeding Section, Kalyani University,
Kalyani 741235, West Bengal, India
2. Department of Botany, Narasinha Dutt College, Howrah 711101
3. Charuchandra College, Department of Botany, Kolkata 700029
4. P.G. Department of Botany, Hooghly Mohsin College, Hooghly 712101
*Corresponding author email:
Abstract: Black cumin (Nigella sativa L., Family: Ranunculaceae) is an annual herb possessing wide range of medicinal
uses apart from its commercial significance as a spice yielding plant. Black cumin seeds are used in folk (herbal) medicine
all over the world for the treatment and prevention of a number of diseases. Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) said:
"Use this Black Seed; it has a cure for every disease except death" (Sahih Bukhari). The plant species is also important
cytogenetically and may be used as a model plant for better understanding of gene and chromosome relationship. Despite the
major advancement of modern medicine in human health-care, it is still intangible and beyond reach to ailing humanity,
especially the destitute and therefore in recent years plant based system has been utilized for traditional medicine and
phytotherapy. 'Medicinal plants are gift of nature' and black cumin is one such plant with potential uses, which can be
explore for safe and effective herbal medicine for human benefit. Considering nearly all essential aspects of the species
(synonym(s), common names, origin of the name, distribution, varieties, plant description, floral biology, pollination
biology, scanning electron microscopy of seed surfaces, cultivation, economy, diseases, pest, microscopical and powdered
characteristics, biochemical constituents, extraction methods of essential oils, therapeutic uses, insecticidal activity, other
uses, clinical trials, biosafety, tissue culture and patents), a monograph is prepared on the laid formulation of WHO (World
Health Organization) as well as on other significant parameters (cytogenetics and molecular genetics) with the following
objectives: to provide an unabridged repository of references regarding the species for its effective and safe utilization as a
'Potential Medicinal Herb'; for creating awareness regarding the use of plant based medicine; understanding economic status,
biosafety and patents for regulating herbal medicinal market Nationally and Internationally and exploration of cytogenetical
and genetical aspects.
Keywords: Black cumin, Herbal medicine, Nigella sativa
igella sativa L. (Family: Ranunculaceae;
commonly known as Black Cumin) is an annual
herb possessing a wide range of medicinal uses1,2 not
withstanding its commercial significance as a spice
yielding plant3. Black cumin seeds are most revered
(Holy herb of the Middle East Yarnell and
Abascal4; can heal every disease except death
Islamic prophet Mohammad; stimulates body’s
energy and helps recovery from fatigue and
dispiritedness – The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna;
included in the list of natural drugs of ‘Tibb-e-
Nabavi’; valuable remedy for number of diseases –
Unani Tibb system of medicine) medicinally. WHO
(World Health Organization) is providing emphasis
on the exploration of medicinal plant species for
benefit of human care system. Emphasis has been
laid mainly on scientific information, on the safety,
efficacy, quality control / quality assurance, dosage,
toxicity description of the plant species, therapeutic
uses, clinical trials, drug interactions amongst other
but genetic resources and its induction must also be
taken into consideration for significant utilization of
a plant species under consideration. Effective
utilization of N. sativa for therapeutic purposes as
well as for trade will vastly depend upon yield (raw
plant product- seeds; bioactive compounds- essential
oil) and its quality. Existing germplasms may not
substantiate the need for future, if not, at present.
Therefore, it is of utmost essentiality to raise
desirable plant type(s) in N. sativa through induced
genetic variations and efficient breeding endeavour.
Considering nearly all essential aspects of N. sativa,
a monograph is conducted with the laid formulation
of WHO as well as with other significant parameters
which will provide unabridged repository of
references for present and future researchers who are
looking to eugenize the species as a ‘potential
medicinal herb’ for human benefits.
Nigella indica Roxb. ex Flem., Nigella truncata
Common names
English: fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman
coriander, blackseed or black caraway, black sesame;
India: Assamese - kaljeera or kolajeera, Bengali -
kalo jeeray, Kannada – Krishna Jeerige, Tamil -
karum jeerakam, Hindi/Urdu - kalaunji/mangrail;
Russian: Chernushka; Hebrew: Ketzakh; Turkish:
çörek out; Arabic: habbat al-barakah; Persian: siyâh
dâne; Indonesian: jintan hitam; Bosnian: urekot6;
Reveiw Article
French: nigelle de Crète, toute épice; Germany:
Schwarzkümmel; Portuguese: cominho-negro;
Spanish: ajenuz, arañuel; Swedish: svartkummin7.
Origin of the name
Originally black cumin was the common name for
Bunium persicum and later named as Carum
bulbocastanum, which is now near extinction and
slowly Carum carvi graduated to the name and due
to inability of the species to all over India, later N.
sativa was adopted from Portuguese or Turkish
The species is cultivated and distributed all over
India especially in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh,
Gangetic plains, Bihar, Bengal, Assam and
Maharashtra. Apart from India, the species is also
grown in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and South Europe8
as well as in Bangladesh, Turkey, Middle-East and
the Mediterranean basin9.
Following varieties of cultivated Kala-Zira reported
with seed yield (g/plant) from Zira and Saffron
Research Station, Sangla, district Kinnaur (Himachal
Pradesh), India: Rarang (1.7), Pangi (1.4), Stang
(2.1), Barang (1.3), Sanji (1.9), Rispa (2.0), Kanam
(2.4), Kilba (1.7), Ribba (1.8), Singla (2.3), Telangi
(1.4), Thangi (1.9), Lobsang (2.1), Maiber (2.4),
Rogi (1.5), Kothi (1.8), Spillow (2.4), Morang (1.7),
Purbani (1.8), Sharboo (1.8) and Sunam (1.8)10.
Variety NRCSS AN 1 to different agrotechniques is
also reported11. Cheikh-Rouhou et al.12 also reported
varieties namely, Tunisian and Iranian.
Plant description
The species is an erect annual herb (Fig. 1) attaining
30.0 cm to 67.6 cm (mean: 52.18 cm ± 4.42) at
maturity. Number of primary branches per plant
ranges from 4 to 10 (mean: 7.0±0.71); leaf
arrangement alternate, leaf phylotaxy 1-2, pinnae of
leaves broad, number of pinna per rachis 5-6; total
branches per plant 22.5±4.1 (6-48); flower
hermaphrodite with determinate flowing patterns,
main axis terminate with a solitary flower (Fig. 1),
delicate; flower size 2.74 cm × 2.78 cm; color (Fig.
2) - french blue (43/3 – Horticultural Color Chart);
flowers without any involucre of bracts, pedunculate;
peduncle long, erect; petalloid sepals broad, ovate in
a single whorl, 4-6 mostly 5 and characterized by the
presence of nectaries; flower fertility 89.89%;
stamens in 3 to 4 whorls (Fig. 3), numerous (32 to
66; 49.6±2.7) and shed their pollen as the filament
bent outward during male phase; gynoecium 5,
completely united follicles, each with a long
indehiscent style and composed of variable number
of multi ovule carpel, developing into a follicle after
pollination; fruit single partially connected to form a
capsule like structure (capsule 5 to 45; mean
20.0±3.37; capsule fertility 94.5%) dehiscence
through suture; fruits (length – 0.4 to 1.7 cm, mean
1.03 cm ± 0.13; seta per capsule 4 to 8, mean
5.10±0.10) with numerous seeds (59.29±3.2; average
seed production/plant - 935±177.9; seed yield – 1.91
gm; seed viability 80% to 90%); seeds ovate,
tetrangular, angles sharp, acute, more tapering at the
end (Fig. 4), color black (000021 – British Atlas of
Colour, 2007); seed size 2.33 mm ± 0.1 × 1.14 mm ±
The quantitative data of the species were provided
from plants grown in the Experimental garden of
Department of Botany, University of Kalyani (West
Bengal plains, Nadia, latitude 22°50' to 24°11' N,
longitude 88°09' to 88°48' E, elevation 48 feet above
sea level, sandy loamy soil, organic carbon 0.76%,
soil pH 6.85 – Mandal et al.13) during the months of
November (15th Nov – sowing; 40 cm between rows
and 30 cm between plants) as rabi crop and harvested
in last week of March or in first week of April14.
Floral biology
Andersson15 suggested that increased allocation to
perianths leads to reduced allocation to direct
component of fitness. Plants both with and without
perianths did not differ in fecundity of total flower
number. Further, perianthless plants produced
heavier seeds with earlier germination dates than the
control plants. No detectable effect of perianth
removal was noted on seed viability or the fecundity
of plants in the progeny generation. High seed mass
and germination speed had positive and independent
effects on progeny fecundity. The author was of
opinion that it is necessary to determine whether
large conspicuous perianths enhance the amount of
cross pollination and in such case perianth is to be
under stabilizing selection, the optimum phenotype
being a compromise between pollinator-mediated
selection for larger floral displays and trade off with
seed size and/or germination speed. The species are
capable of setting seed without being cross
pollinated, an advantageous feature in seed crop
which should be under strong selection for increased
seed production. Finally, the author concluded that
resource trade-offs with seed mass and time to
germination may facilitate evolutionary reductions in
flower size.
Pollination biology
Self pollinated; onset of the male stage stamen stand
erect, curved outwards one by one, roughly in whorls
and strictly reflecting the order of initiation, pollen
grains released when anthers reach a horizontal
position; male phase initiated a few days before the
stigmas became receptive and lasted for five days;
anther receptivity occurred between 8.00 p.m. to
13.00 p.m. for one day only, male and female stages
synchronized on the last day of the flowering; weight
of pollen 0.064 mg/flower whereas the volume of
nectar 0.13 µl16; empty anthers curved up; pollinated
stigma erect and made an angle of 180º with the
ovary; style and anther length nearly equal 1.73 cm;
pollinator honey bee, one bee per flower, visited in
morning around 7.00 a.m.; high temperature effect
fertilization success by affecting stigma receptivity
and accelerating ovule degeneration17.
Scanning electron microscopy of seed surfaces
Datta and Saha14 studied seed surface ornamentation
and found that surfaces were with distinct
reticulation marks; reticulation more prominently
raised, pentagonal to polygonal, ovoid or irregular in
outline; reticulate rows consisting of smaller
tuberculate raised cells, cells either uni- or multi
seriate or in aggregation along corners or junction;
cells of reticulate lines showed shrinkage structure;
bound area with variable number of cells (2-5), each
cell comparatively larger, penta-, hexa-, polygonal or
rounded in outline; lumen floor depressed or shallow
glabrous (Figs. 5-10).
In India N. sativa is mostly grown once in a year as
rabi crop during the months of October (late)–
November to March-April in plains; while, rarely in
hills in May-June18.
1. Area of Cultivation and Production: Area of
cultivation and annual production (source –
Comparative Sales Report 2010, VDM Verlag
Dr. Muller AG & Co.) were reported to be
India: 6234600 ha, 254000 t; Turkey: 8122010
ha, 689350 t; USA: 16420 ha, 11200 t; UK: 500
ha, 10 to 20 t respectively.
2. Climate: Grows well in cool-dry with light
snowfall areas to warm-humid areas. Cool and
humid weather favors flowering and seed
3. Soil: Sandy, loam rich in microbial activity is
the most suitable soil for cultivation. The sloppy
soils of heavy rainfall areas and leveled and well
drained soils of moderate rainfall areas are quite
suitable for cultivation. Soil pH 7.0 to 7.5 is
favorable for cultivation10.
4. Preparation of Land: One ploughing followed
by 2-3 harrowing and leveling will be suitable10.
5. Method of Sowing: Seed sowing or by
replanting previous year root stocks. Seed
sowing is done during October-November by
broadcasting (1.5 kg/hectare) or seed drill
method or by line sowing keeping space
between lines (30, 40 or 50 cm) and at the depth
of 2 cm. After 20 days of sowing thinning of the
plant to a distance of 20 cm is done.
Sowing by bulbs (previous year root stock) is
possible when soil moisture content of the field
is favorable for deep ploughing i.e. neither too
wet nor too dry10.
6. Manure and Fertilizer: NPK (5:3:2) is
generally applied every year along the side of
the planted bulbs10.
7. Weed Control: Frequent weeding reduce weed
competition and produce good environmental
condition for growth and development. About 3-
5 weeding at an interval of 20 to 25 days is
recommended by hand hoe or khurpi10.
8. Irrigation: One or two irrigations at flowering
and seed formation stage are helpful to increase
grain size and oil content10.
9. Harvesting: Black cumin grown as rabi crop in
West Bengal Plains are generally harvested late
March to first week of April. The crop harvested
before shedding at little green stage gives high
aromatic oil contents providing good market.
Black cumin retains seed viability longer when it
is full ripe. It is rather essential that harvesting is
done before shedding (shattering of fruits is a
major problem) and therefore 2 to 3 or more
pickings can be done to avoid loss of seeds due
to shattering of the capsules. The harvested crop
is dried under sun and threshed by beating with
the stick10.
10. Post Harvest Management: N. sativa requires
extensive labor in collection and harvest as the
capsules (fruit) tend to shatter at maturity. Post
harvest management of the fruits usually
involves their harvest, one by one, by hand and
dry storage till natural dehiscence. The mature
fruits do not require much attention as they are
self-preserving and their essential oil is a great
deterrent to fungal attack, insect attack as well as
rodent infestation19.
Shelf life
The seeds of N. sativa store well for one year as
planting material and as a spice, they are stored in
airtight conditions to prevent the loss of aroma. As a
spice, it is recommended to be stored away from
other species as the species has a overbearing flavour
and aroma and disturb the flavour of other species10.
1. Rs. 275-300/kg in local market (Pakisthan-
Mingora, Din, Peshawar, Pindi, Lahore, Gilgit
and Astore), whereas in down country it cost Rs.
450-500. In Internatinal market it is sold for Rs.
2. Germany: Black cumin oil 1000 ml – 23.90
EUR + shipping cost21.
3. Black cumin MGS Heirloom Seeds; Product
code: NIG02:300 seeds – 1.90€22.
4. Black cumin USA. (i) Product No. 1130.F, 29.57
millilit. - $1.40. (ii) Product No 1130.G, 59.14
millilit. - $1.99. (iii) Product No. 1130.H, 118.29
millilit. - $2.46. (iv) Product No. 1130.I, 236.58
millilit. - $3.50. (v) Product No. 1130.J, 476.16
millilit. - $6.00. (vi) Product No 1130.K, 5lbs
minimum - $5.00. (vii) Product No. 1130.N,
10lbs min. - $4.50. (viii) Product No. 1130.O,
25lbs min. - $3.9523.
5. Black Seed 100 capsules - $9
Black Cumin Tea (Organic) 20 Bag - $624.
6. In Indian market Rs. 250-300/kg. Since its
cultivation fetches high income per unit area,
therefore, it is highly suitable for cultivation by
marginal farmers10.
Sinha and Singh25 reported Macrophomina
phaseolina infection in roots causing its deformation.
Wilt (causal organism grows along the seedling and
leaves and branches look light green in colour, leaves
shed and plant dries up; control: spray Dithane M-45
0.2% or Dithane Z-78 or Blitox 5 w.p. at 15 days
interval) and rotting of bulbs (emit a special odour;
control: dipping bulbs in 0.3% bavistin for 30 mins.
before planting, field kept free from stagnant water)
are diseases reported10. Early report by McRae and
Shaw26 also suggested Fusarium wilt in the species.
Prolonged survival of F. udum for upto 8 years was
reported in roots.
1. Caterpillar – Makes holes in the bulbs and cut
down seedlings.
Control: Dust the soil at the sowing or hoeing
with 5% Aldrine, 10% BHC at the rate of 25 kg
per hectare; application of well-decomposed
farmyard manure10.
2. Armyworm and semi-looper – Feed on the
flowers, seeds, and damage the crop.
Control: Spray with 0.05% methyl parathion – 1
ml/l water or Thiodian or Endosal 35EC, 1 ml/l
of water at 15 days interval10.
Microscopical and powdered characteristics
Transverse section of seed show single layered
epidermis, thick walled cells, covered externally by a
papillose cuticle and dark brown contents; 2-4
layered, thick, tangentially elongated
parenchymatous cells followed by reddish brown
thick walled rectangular cells; endosperm thin
walled, cells rectangular to polygonal filled with oil
globules; powdered characteristics brownish black,
parenchymatous cells and oil globules27,28.
Biochemical constituents
Constituents of N. sativa seeds are fixed oil – 32 to
40% (saturated fatty acids- about 30%; palmitic acid,
stearic and myristic acid; unsaturated fatty acids:
arachidonic, eicosadienoic – 3%, linoleic – 50 to
60%; oleic acid – 20%; dihomolinoleic fatty acids –
10%), volatile oil- 0.4 to 0.45% (nigellone,
thymoquinone, thymohydroquinone, dithymo-
quinone, thymol, carvacrol, and -pinene, d-
limonene, d-citrlnellol, p-cymene), proteins 16-
19.9% (arginine, glutamic acid, leucine, lysine,
methionine, tyrosine, proline, threonine), minerals
1.79-3.74% (calcium, phosphorus, potassium,
sodium, iron), carbohydrate 33.9%, fibre 5.50% and
water 6.0%29. Ramadan and Morsel30 reported that
apart from physical constants: 2% w/w, foreign
matter; 6% w/w, total ash; 0.2% w/w, acid insoluble
ash; 20% w/w, alcohol soluble extractive; 15% w/w,
water soluble extractive; 3.91% w/w organic matter;
4% w/w, loss on drying31. The seeds contain
carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in liver32.
Acetylated triterpene saponin (penta hydroxyl
pentocyclic triterpene) has been isolated from the
Phytochemical Compounds: Categorically different
phytochemical compounds of seeds are nigellone34,
nigellicine, nigellimine, nigellimine-N-oxide,
avenasterol-5-ene, avenasterol-7-ene, campesterol,
cholesterol, citrostadienol, cycloeucalenol, 24-ethyl-
lophenol, gramisterol, lophenol, 243-
methyllophenol, obtusifoliol, sitosterol, stigmastanol,
stigmasterol, stigmasterol-7-ene, beta-amyrin,
butyrospermol, cycloartenol, 24-methylene-
cycloartanol, taraxerol, tirucallol, 3-O-[-D-
(14)--D-glucopyranosyl (16)--D-
glucopyranosyl] hederagenin, volatile oil (0.5-1.6%),
fatty oil (35.6-41.6%), oleic acid, esters of
unsaturated fatty acids with C15 and higher
terpenoids, esters of dehydrostearic and linoleic acid,
aliphatic alcohol31,35,36, nigellidine37, carvone, d-
limonene, cymene, , -unsaturated hydroxy ketone,
steroids, hederagenin glycoside, melanthin,
melanthigenin, bitter principle, tannin, resin, protein,
reducing sugar, glycosidal saponin, 3-O-[-D-
28-methylolean-12-enoate, stigma-5,22-dien-3--D-
glucopyranoside, cycloart-23-methyl-7,20, 22-triene-
,25-diol, nigellidine-4-O-sulfite38, nigellamines
A3, A4, A5, C39, nigellamines A1, A2, B1, and B240.
Seed Oil: The seed oil contains cholesterol,
campesterol, stigmasterol, -sitosterol, -spinasterol,
(+)-citronellol, (+)-limonene, p-cymene, citronellyl
acetate, carvone41, nigellone, arachidic, linolenic,
linoleic, myristic, oleic, palmitic, palmitoleic and
stearic acids. Fixed oil: linoleic acid (55.6%), oleic
acid (23.4%) and palmitic acid (12.5%). Volatile oil:
trans-anethole (38.3%), p-cymene (14.8%), limonene
(4.3%), and carvone (4.0%)42, 2-(2-methoxypropyl)-
5-methyl-1, 4-benzenediol, thymol and carvacrol43.
Root and shoot are reported to contain vanillic acid44.
Extraction methods of essential oil
1. Conventional method – extraction by hexane in
2. Enzymatic extraction46.
3. Ultrasound assisted extraction47.
4. Microwaves assisted extraction48.
5. Supercritical solvent extraction49.
6. Surfactant assisted method; based on the use of
aqueous solution polyethylene glycol sorbitan
monolaurate (Tween 20)50 amongst other
Oil extracted were analyzed and characterized by
using classical analytical procedures, spectroscopic
and chromatographic methods.
Therapeutic uses
Traditional Uses: In traditional system of medicine
black cumin seeds are effective against cough,
bronchitis, asthma, chronic headache, migraine,
dizziness, chest congestion, dysmenorrheal, obesity,
diabetes, paralysis, hemiplegia, back pain, infection,
inflammation, rheumatism, hypertension, and
gastrointestinal problems such as dyspepsia,
flatulence, dysentery, and diarrhea51. It has also been
used as a stimulant, diuretic, emmenagogue,
lactagogue, anthelmintic and carminative52 as well as
it is applied to abscesses, nasal ulcers, orchitis,
eczema and swollen joints51. Seed oil is considered to
be local anesthetic53,54.
Pharmacological Significance: The species
possesses antimicrobial (diethyl ether extract and
methanol and chlorophyll extract and plant extract as
well as seed oil were found to inhibit Staphylococcus
aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli
and a pathogenic yeast Candida albicans – Hanafy
and Hatem55, Hosseinzadeh et al.56, Chaieb et al.57,
Khalid et al.58), anti-malarial59, antioxidant
(thymoquinine constituent of seed oil, enhance the
oxidant scavenging system – Salem60), anti-
inflammatory (the oil and thymoquinone – Salem60;
thymoquinone has the ability to attenuate allergic
airway inflammation by inhibiting Th2 cytokines and
eosinophil infiltration into the airways and
exploratory effects Isik et al.61), anticancerous
(methanolic extract of plant exhibits potent inhibition
of cancerous cell growth against HL-60 and U-937
cell lines with IC50 value 13.50 µg/ml and 28.31
µg/ml respectively – Raval et al.62), antitumerogenic
(active components thymoquinone and
dithymoquinone; tymoquinone kill cancer cell by a
process that involved apoptosis and cell cycle arrest
with little effect in non-cancerous cells
Buyukozturk et al.63), anti-hypertensive64, antiviral
(Infections Laryngotrachietis virus – Zaher et al.65),
anti-asthmatic (crude seed extracts exhibits
spasmolytic and bronchodilator activities mediated
possibly through calcium channel blockade – Kalus
et al.66), anti-allergic (oil is an important adjuvant for
the treatment of allergic disease – Dahri et al.67),
anti-diabetic, antilipidemic, antiobesity9,
anticonvulsant43,68, antitoxic69 properties apart from
having immunomodulatory (extract inhibit human
neutrophil elastase activity which is mainly attributed
to carvacrol – Mansi70), hematological (oil play role
in modulating the balance of fibrinolysis/thrombus
formation by modulating the fibrinolytic potential of
endothelial cells Gilani et al.71, Zaoui et al.72),
gastro-protective (thymoquinone protect gastric
mucosa against injurious effect of absolute alcohol
and promote ulcer healing – Naz9),
nephroprotective73,74,75, diuretic76, cardiovascular
(active ingredient thymol has shown to lower blood
pressure through blockade of calcium channels -
Gilani et al.71, Paarakh8) properties as well as the
species is protective against heavy metal77,78, effects
nitric acid production79, possesses analgesic activity
(volatile oil Ramadhan et al.80) amongst others.
Moreover, essential oil was found to be effective
against Cr(VI) hazard and may be a promising
candidate against different environmental
pollutants81,82 reported that the species is a good
absorbent for the removal of cationic metals coming
from wastewater. Tasawar et al.82 reported that black
cumin (tested on 80 subjects, divided randomly into
2 groups) is effective to change the lipid profile
significantly in a way which is beneficial to heart.
Black seed has also been used externally where it is
applied directly to abscesses, nasal ulcers, orchitis,
eczema and swollen joints51. N. sativa is also a
potential source for antidermaphytic drugs. The ether
extract of seeds and its active principle
thymoquinone are found to be effective after clinical
trials against many species of three important genera
of dermatophytes: Trichophyton, Epidemophyton and
Microsporum83,84. The volatile oil inhibited the
spontaneous movements of rat and guinea pig uterine
smooth muscle and also the contraction induced
oxytocin suggesting its anti-oxytocic potential69. Hot
water extract of NS as well as whole seeds in large
oral doses causes abortion in human pregnant
females85. The species is also used in long term
treatment of opioid defense86. Thymoquinone has
been reported to exhibit effect on dopaminergic
neurons against Parkinson’s disease87.
Insecticidal activity
Essential oil from dried fruits was isolated by
hydrodistillation and tested for its repellent, toxic and
developmental inhibitory activities against wheat
flour pest Tribolium castaneum88. Results indicated
that the essential oil reduced the oviposition potential
and increased the developmental period of T.
castaneum in comparison to control group.
Fumigation of essential oil inhibited development of
larvae to pupae and the pupae to adults and also
resulted in the deformities in the different
developmental stages of the insects. All the
responses were found concentration-dependent.
Other uses
N. sativa seed cakes in the feed of buffalo and lambs
improved their body weight and reproductivity as
well as seeds in the food of broiler chicks improved
their immunity and feed conversion efficacy89,90.
Clinical trials
Significance of the species has been documented
from some clinical trial experiments. Al-Ghamdi91
administered aqueous suspension of the seeds orally
at two dose levels (250 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg) for
five days to assess carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-
induced liver damage. CCl4 (250 microl/kg
intraperitonelly/day in olive oil) was given to the
experimental group on days 4 and 5, while the
control group was only treated with the vehicles.
Animals treated with CCl4 showed remarkable
centrilobular fatty changes and moderate
inflammatory infiltrate in the form of neutrophil and
mononuclear cells when compared to the controls.
This effect was significantly decreased in animals
pretreated with N. sativa. Histopathological or
biochemical changes were not evident following
administration of N. sativa alone. Serum levels of
aspartic transaminase (AST), L-alanine
aminotransferase (ALT) were slightly decreased
while lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was significantly
increased in animals treated with CCl4 when
compared to control group. LDH was restored to
normal but ALT and AST levels were increased in
animals pretreated with N. sativa. In conclusion, it
appeared that seeds are possible safe and protective
against CCl4-induced hepatoxicity.
Ali and Blunden92 examined the hypolipidemic and
antioxidant effects of dietary black seed in
hyperlipidemic rabbits (24 male rabbits were fed
with 0.5% cholesterol diet for 1 month, randomly
assigned to two groups – control group received the
hypercholesterolemic diet and the black seed group
was fed 7.5 g/kg b.w/day crushed black seed + 0.5%
cholesterol diet, each for 2 months). Fasting blood
samples were obtained at baseline, after
hyperlipidemia, 1 month and 2 months of treatment
to determine serum lipid profile, malondialdehyde
(MDA) level, total antioxidant status (TAS),
superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione
peroxidase (GPX). Results indicated that black seed
can favorably decrease serum lipid profile and lipid
peroxidation levels in hyperlipidemic rabbits, thereby
indicating that seeds may be considered as a useful
therapy for hyperlipidemia.
Abbas et al.93 reported that N. sativa oil possesses
anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator activities.
Clinical trial with mouse model suggested that N.
sativa significantly reduced blood eosinophil count;
IgG1 and IgG2a levels, cytokine profiles and
inflammatory cells in lung tissue. These effects were
comparable to the effects of dexamethasone except
unchanged IFN-y level.
Abou-Gabal et al.94 studied the effect of the oral
administration of aqueous suspension of N. sativa
(50 mg/kg.b.wt) against chromosomal aberrations
and ultrastructural changes of the bone marrow cells
in mice treated with carbon tetrachloride CCl4 (two
dose level: 1.9 ml/kg.b.wt and 3.8 ml/kg.b.wt).
Mitotic activity decreased in bone marrow cells of
animals treated with CCl4 as well as significant
increase in the number of bone marrow cells with
different types of chromosomal aberrations was
recorded. Ultrastructural changes were also dose-
dependent including both nucleus and cytoplasm of
erythroid and myeloid elements of the bone marrow
cells. Treatment of the animals with N. sativa
improved both genotoxicity and ultrastructural
changes induced by CCl4.
Al-Kubaisy and Al-Noaemi95 reported protective role
of seed oil against effect of CCl4 on the liver cells.
Samir Bashandy96 reported that administration of NS
oil to hyperlipidemic rats improved their
reproductive efficiency (increase in seminal vesicle
weight, testosterone level, sperm motility and sperm
count and a decrease in sperm abnormalities) and
produced additional protection against
hyperlipidemia induced reduction in fertility.
Najmi et al.97 performed clinical study (2 groups of
30 patients each) to evaluate the adjuvant effect of
seed oil on various clinical and biochemical
parameters of the metabolic syndrome. Group I
(standard group) patients were given Atorvastatin 10
mg once a day and tablet Metformin 500 mg twice a
day along with N. sativa seed oil 2.5 ml twice a day
for six weeks. Results indicated that Group III
patients showed significant improvement with
reference to total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein
and fasting blood glucose, thereby indicating that
seed oil is effective as an add-on therapy in patients
with metabolic syndrome and also possessing
therapeutic activity in diabetic and dyslipidemic
Al-Sa'aidi et al.98 determine the effect of alcoholic
extract of black seed N. sativa on fertility parameters
in white rat. A total of 60 mature males were divided
into 3 groups – the first group (control) intake
drinking water, while the other two groups (T1 and
T2) intake the extract in two doses (0.5 and 1.5 g/kg
respectively) daily for 53 days. The results revealed
that treatment with alcoholic extract of N. sativa led
to significant increase (P<0.01) in body weight gain
(g), reproductive parameters (seminiferous tubules
thickness and diameters, account of spermatogonia,
primary and secondary spermatocytes, spermatids,
free spermatozoa, account of sertoli and Leydig cells,
diameter of Leydig cells and the height of epithelial
cells entirely covered epididymal caudal), hormones
(testosterone and follicle stimulating hormone) as
well as protein concentration and significant decrease
(P<0.01) in leutinizing hormone and cholesterol
Mohammad et al.99 from clinical trial experiments
with male albino rats suggested that the aqueous
extracts of N. sativa have increased spermatogenesis
activity in seminiferous tubule.
Al-Attar and Al-Taisan100 reported the preventive
effects of black cumin seeds (seed extract – 300
mg/kg/day) on Spragu Dawley Rats (clinical trial
performed with 50 male rats, divided into four
groups) exposed to Diazinon. Results indicated that
seeds can be considered therapeutic agent against
hematotoxicity, immunotoxicity, hepatoxicity,
nephrotoxicity and cardiotoxicity induced by
diazinon and may be against other chemical
pollutants, environmental contaminants and
pathogenic factors.
El-Naggar101 investigated the cytotoxicity of N.
sativa dry methanolic extract on cultured cortical
neurons and its influence on neurotransmitter release,
as well as the presence of excitatory (glutamate and
aspartate) and inhibitory amino acids (gamma-
aminobutyric acid-GABA- and glycine). The
secretion of different amino acids was studied in
primary cultured cortical neurons by HPLC using a
derivation before injection with dansyl chloride. NS
modulated amino acid release in cultured neurons;
GABA was significantly increased whereas secretion
of glutamate, aspartate, and glycine were decreased.
Mohamed et al.102 investigated protective role of N.
sativa in DAB (dimethylaminoazobenzene) induced
liver carcinogenesis. The study included 140 Albino
mice weighing 40-50 gm divided into 4 groups:
Group I - normal control; Group II - N. sativa treated
control; Group III – treated with DAB; Group IV –
treated with N. sativa and DAB. Biochemical
investigations, flow cytometric analysis and
histopathological examination of the liver tissue were
performed and the results showed significant change
in the DNA content, histomorphology, and
antioxidant enzymes in liver tissues of the DAB
treated group. These changes were restored to normal
with N. sativa treatment. Further, it was noted that
treatment with N. sativa only showed comparable
result with control untreated group. Thus, it was
inferred that N. sativa lonely induce no harmful
effect on the liver rather it exerts hepatoprotective
effect against liver carcinogens.
Al-Naqeep et al.103 reported (experiment conducted
on HC rabbit) that N. sativa seeds powder or oil
showed hypocholesterolemic and antiatherogenic
cardioprotective properties.
Attia et al.104 performed experiment on male rats and
were of opinion that omega-3 polysaturated fatty acid
3) and seed oil of N. sativa might prevent oxidative
stress and attenuate the changes in the biochemical
parameters (levels of urea, creatine, total bilirubin
and uric acid contents and aminotransferase,
phosphatases, and lactic dehydrogenase) induced by
Lindane (r-HCH-r-hexachlorocyclohexane).
El-Gohary et al.105 studied the effect of carboplatin (a
synthetic antineoplastic agent used for cancer
treatment) and N. sativa oil alone or in combination
on human breast cancer cell (MCF-7) in vitro and
Ehrlich as cites tumor bearing female mice (in vivo).
The in vitro experiment on MCF-7 cells illustrated
that IC50 of carboplatin was 11.8 µg/ml, IC50 of N.
sativa oil was 39 µg/ml and IC50 of the combination
between carboplatin and black cumin oil was 3.78
and 40 µg/ml respectively. The in vivo experiment
illustrated that carboplatin (10 mg/kg) increased the
enzyme activity of aspartate amino transferase
(GOT) and aniline amino transferase (GPT) by
56.52% and 51.14% respectively as compared to
both healthy control (non-tumor transplanted mice)
and negative control. The activity of GOT and GPT
was increased by 14.75% and 19.84% respectively as
compared to healthy control under the effect of N.
sativa oil (12 ml/kg); while, the enzyme activities
decreased in comparison to negative control. The
combination of carboplatin and oil appeared to
increase the enzyme activity of GOT and GPT by
62.41% and 49.39% respectively compared to both
healthy control and negative control. Agarose gel
electrophoresis revealed that carboplatin induced
DNA damage of liver tissue but N. sativa oil showed
intact DNA without any damage.
Parhizkar et al.106 studied the estrogenic activity of
N. sativa by vaginal cornification assay using an
ovariectomized rat model (40 ovariectomized
Sprague Dawley rats, weighing 250 to 350 g were
used; NS powder given at 300, 600 and 1200 mg/kg
for 21 consecutive days; compared with 0.2 mg/kg
conjugated Equine estrogen as positive control). Data
obtained from vaginal smear suggested that NS
possesses estrogenic function which can be helpful in
managing menopausal symptoms as an alternative
for Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Rayan et al.107 studied the effect of black cumin oil
(BSO) against Toxoplasma gondii Me 49 strain in a
murine model of infection. After clinical diagnosis
with mice (35 mice were studied in 3 groups) and
assessment of survival rate and brain cyst burden,
brain histopathological lesions and
immunohistochemical expression of inducible nitric
oxide synthase (iNOS) it was noted that BSO in
prophylactic or therapeutic regimens significantly
enhanced protection of infected mice against death
(P=0.01) and reduced brain cyst burdens at 5, 7 and
12 weeks post infection compared to the infected
untreated control.
Antitumor- Ait et al.108 suggested that essential oil
(IC50=0.6% v/v) and ethyl acetate (IC50=0.75%)
extracts were more cytotoxic against P8-15 cell line
than butanol extract (IC50=2%). The authors further
suggested that TQ induced apoptosis and inhibited
proliferation in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
cells. TQ also increased P21WAF1 expression,
inhibited histone deacetylase activity and induced
histone hyperacetylation. TQ is reported that it acts
as a novel inhibitor of pro-inflammatory pathways
which combines anti-inflammatory and proapoptotic
modes of action. Banerjee et al.109 performed in vitro
studies on pancreatic cancer cells preexposed with
thymoquinone (25 µmol/l) for 48 h followed by
gemcitabine or oxaliplatin resulted in 60 to 80%
growth inhibition compared with 15 to 25% when
gemcitabine or thymoquinone was used alone which
suggested that the mechanism of thymoquinone
could potentiate the killing of pancreatic cancer cells
by down regulation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-
kappa B), Bcl-2 family, and NF-kappa B-dependent
antiapoptotic genes. Breyer et al.110 tested 4-
acylhydrazones and 6-alkyl derivatives of
thymoquinone for growth inhibition of human HL-
60, leukemia, 518A2 melanoma, KB-VI/Vbl cervix
and MCF-7/Topo breast carcinoma cells. The 6-
hencosahexaenyl conjugate was most active in all
resistant tumor cells, with IC50 (72 h) values as low
as 30 Nm in MCF-7/Topo cells. Nagi and Almakki111
investigated the effect of thymoquinone (TQ) in vivo
and in vitro male albino rats on fibrosarcoma induced
by 20-methylcholanthrene. It was found to inhibit
tumor incidence and tumor burden significantly.
Shafi et al.112 reported methanol (IC50-2.28 µg/ml),
n-hexane (IC50-2.20 µg/ml) and chloroform (IC50-
0.41 µg/ml) extracts of the seeds effectively killed
HeLa cells by inducing apoptosis.
Diabetic and Cardiovascular Activities- Meddah et
al.113 observed improvement of glucose tolerance and
body weight in rats after chronic oral administration
in vivo, which validate the traditional use of black
cumin seeds against diabetes. Chandra et al.114
reported that HIV protease inhibitors, nelfinavir (5-
10 µM), saquinavir (5-10 µM) and atazanavir (5-20
µM) with N. sativa seed extract decreases glucose
stimulated insulin secretion from rat pancreatic beta-
cells. Altan et al.115 were of opinion that combined
treatment with NS and hPTH alone in improving
bone mass, connectivity, biomechanical behavior and
strength in insulin-dependent diabetic rats. NS
treatment alone or in combinations significantly
increased the area of insulin immunoreactive beta-
cells in diabetic rats suggesting that NS might be
useful in the treatment of diabetic osteopenia. Kanter
et al.116 and Kaleem et al.117 suggested that oral
administration of ethanol extract of black cumin
seeds (300 mg/kg body weight/day) to streptozotocin
induced diabetic rats for 30 days significantly
reduced the elevated levels of blood glucose, lipids,
plasma insulin and improvement altered levels of
lipid peroxidation products and antioxidant enzymes
like catalase, superoxide dismutase, reduced
glutathione and glutathione peroxidase in liver and
kidney. Meral et al.118 suggested that NS might be
used in diabetic patients to prevent lipid
peroxidation, increase in anti-oxidant defense system
activity and also to prevent liver damage. al-Awadi et
al.119 reported the significance of NS seeds for its use
in non-insulin dependent diabetic mellitus. An
aqueous decoction of a plant mixture containing NS
was found to lower blood glucose level after oral
administration120. Al-Hader et al.121 suggested that
intraperitoneal administration of volatile oil of seeds
produced a significant hypoglycemic effect in normal
and alloxan induced diabetic rabbit.
Oral supplement of N. sativa seeds to normal rats
was investigated and the results showed intrinsic
cardiac properties without evidence of an increased
cardiac work load or energy consumption in vivo
which makes the seeds an isotropic agent with
hemodynamic profile77,122,123. Shafei et al.124
examined the effects of aqueous and macerated
extracts from N. sativa on heart rate and contractility
of the isolated heart. Results showed a potent
inhibitory effect of both extracts on both heart rate
and contractility of guinea pig heart that was
comparable and even higher than that of diltazem
which may be due to calcium channel inhibitory or
an opening effect for the plant on potassium channels
of the isolated heart. Dichloromethane extract of
seeds (0.6 ml/kg/day), essential oil and
unsaponifiable matter of oil, volatile oil and
thymoquinone found to be cardioprotective125,126,76,67.
Gilani et al.127 reported that thymol has shown lower
blood pressure through blockade of calcium
channels. The effect of oral treatment of Wister
albino rats with different doses of powdered seeds
(100, 200, 400 and 600 mg/kg/day) for four weeks on
the levels of serum lipid was investigated, and it was
found that it causes significant decrease in low
density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels, triglyceride
levels and increase in high density lipoprotein-
cholesterol level128.
Pulmonary Activity- Nigellone was found to inhibit
effectively the histamine release from the mast cells
suggesting its use in asthma129. Padmalatha et al.130
studied the antinaphylactic effect of a polyherbal
formulation containing NS on mesenteric mast cells.
The antinaphylactic activity was possibly due to the
membrane stabilizing potential, suppression of
antibody production and inhibition of antigen
induced histamine release. Gilani et al.127 suggested
that bronchodilatory effect of NS seeds was mediated
possibly through calcium channel blockade.
Keyhanmanesh et al.131 studied the prophylactic
effect of TQ on tracheal responsiveness and WBC
(white blood cell) count in lung lavage of sensitized
guinea pigs. The results suggested the preventive
effect of TQ on tracheal responsiveness and
inflammatory cells of lung lavage of sensitized
guinea pigs. Suddek132 was of opinion that TQ-
induced relaxation of the precontracted pulmonary
artery is probably by the activation of ATP-sensitive
potassium channels and possibly by non-competitive
blocking of serotonin, alpha-I and endothelin
Immunomodulation- Islam et al.133 studied the
effect of volatile oil of N. sativa seeds (NSVO) for its
immunomodulating and cytotoxic properties in rats
and it was found that there was a significant decrease
in splenocyte and neutrophil counts, but a rise in
peripheral lymphocytes and monocytes in rats. LC50
values for NSVO were 155.02±10.4, 185.77±2.9,
120.40±20.5, 384.53±12.1 and 286.83±23.3 micro
g/ml respectively against the SCL, SCL-6, SCL-376,
NUGC-4 cancer lines and 3T6 fibroblast line.
Results indicate NSVO as a potential
immunosuppressive cytotoxic agent. Swamy and
Tan134 performed in vitro cytotoxicity of seed
extracts (in ethyl acetate fraction) in different cancer
cell lines P388, Molt 4, Wehi 164, LL/2, HePG2, SW
620 and J82 as measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-
2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay
and the ethyl-acetate column chromatographic
fraction (CC-5) showed selectivity against HePG2,
Molt 4 and LL/2. CC-5 was relatively non-toxic
against human umbilical cord endothelial cells at 50
µg/ml. Results therefore indicated that CC-5
possesses a potent cytotoxic effect as well as a
potentiating effect on the cellular immune response.
Contraceptive Activity- Hexane extract of the seeds
prevented pregnancy in Sprague-Dawley rats treated
orally at 2 g/kg daily dose on day’s 1-10 post –
coitum. The active hexane extract exhibited only
mild euterotrophic activity comparable to ethinyl-
estradiol, but was devoid of any estrogenicity in the
immature rat bio-assay135. Agarwal et al.136 reported
that ethanolic extract of seeds possesses antifertility
effect in male rats which is probably due to inherent
esterogenic activity.
Nephroprotective Activity- Ali137 investigated the
effect of oil (oral treatment: 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0 ml/kg/day
for 10 days) on gentamycin induced nephrotoxicity
in rats. A dose-dependant amelioration of the
biochemical and histological indices of GM
nephrotoxicity that was statistically significant at the
two higher doses. Treatments enhanced antioxidant
status in plasma and also reduced glutathione
concentrations in renal cortex and enhanced growth.
Badary et al.138 studied the effect of TQ on the
nephropathy and oxidative stress induced by
doxorubicin (DOX) in rats (10 mg/kg/day
supplemented with drinking water for 5 days before
DOX and daily thereafter) and found that TG, TC
and serum urea lowered significantly. TQ has been
suggested to be protective agent for protienuria and
hyperlipidemia associated with nephritic syndrome.
Effectiveness- Qidwai et al.139 performed clinical
trial experiment (study design was randomized,
double-blind trial) to assess effectiveness, safety, and
tolerability of powdered N. sativa seeds in capsules
on serum lipid levels, blood sugar, blood pressure,
and body weight in adults (123 patients were
recruited; 64 and 59 patients were randomized to the
intervention and the control arms respectively; 39
patients in the intervention group and 34 in the
control group completed the study). Favourable
impact of powdered N. sativa seed in capsule was
noted on almost all variables; however, larger study
with adequate sample size was recommended.
1. Seed powder did not produce any toxic effects at
very high doses (28 gm/kg orally) in rabbits140.
2. Seed oil safe when given orally to rats (LD50 of
28.8 ml/kg)72.
3. Oral thymoquinone was found safe (LD50 of 2.4
4. Oral thymoquinone (LD50 of around 1000mg/kg)
and intraperitoneal (LD50 of around 100 mg/kg)
in mice/rat, safest142.
Cytological and cytogenetical studies
Karyomorphology: Gregory143 was pioneer to
enumerate the number of chromosomes (2n=12) in
somatic complement of N. sativa. Bhattacharyaya144
revealed five pairs of very long (L1) to long (L)
chromosomes with median to sub median primary
constrictions and a single pair of medium-sized (M)
chromosomes with sub-terminal primary
constrictions in the species. Secondary constrictions
were located in two of the long pairs of
chromosomes and karyotype formula was suggested
as 2n=12=2L1+4LS+4L+2M.
Saha and Datta145 reported four morphologically
distinct chromosome types (A, B, C, D) in N. Sativa
(2n=12) on the basis of chromosome length (very
long 15.0 to 20 µm; long 10.0 to 14.9 µm; median
5.0 to 9.9 µm), nature of primary constriction and
presence or absence of secondary constriction (Figs.
11-12). The somatic complement possessed one pair
AA (very long, 19.13 µm; F% 44.01), one pair BB
(very long, 16.70 µm; both primary- F% 44.88 and
secondary constriction were present), three pairs CC
(C1C1- very long, 15.31 µm; C2C2- long, 14.86 µm
and C3C3- long, 13.80 µm; F% 44.04 to 45.42) and
one pair DD (medium 6.64 µm, F% 7.23)
chromosomes (TF% 41.38, haploid chromatin length
86.50 µm ± 3.3). The somatic chromosome types
could easily be marked in meiotic plates (Figs. 13-
Ghosh and Datta146 karyotyped N. sativa through
Image Analyzing System (Micro Image TM Lite
Software, Version 4.0 for windows, 47N40155 2000
0515 MAN VG MIX) and revealed four
(2n=12=4A+4B+2C+2D; karyotype formula:
2Lsc1sm+2L1m+2Lsm+2St) morphologically distinct
chromosome types (L1= very long15.0 µm, L= long
13.0 to <15.0 µm, M= medium 7.0 to <13.0 µm, S=
short <7.0 µm; m= metacentric, sm= sub-
metacentric, t= telocentric and sc= satellites). The
somatic chromosome complements in the species
formed graded karyotype which was symmetric in
nature (TF% 42.90). Total haploid chromatin length
was noted to be 78.62 µm ± 2.87.
Meiotic Analysis and Pollen Fertility: Saha and
Datta145 reported regular 6 bivalents formation at
diplotene and metaphase I (MI) in most PMCs (Figs.
15-17); while, the rest demonstrated 5II+2I
formations (175 meiocytes assessed). Frequency of
bivalent and univalent per cell varied from 5.88 to
6.0 and 0.00 to 0.23 respectively. Frequency of
bivalent and univalent per cell was 5.95 and 0.10
respectively. The bivalents formed rings (range-
2.85±0.51 to 3.58±0.24/cell) and rods (range-
2.41±0.24 to 3.15±0.51/cell). Average frequency of
ring and rod per cell over the plant was 3.18 and 2.77
respectively. Chiasma per nucleus range between
8.87±0.21 and 9.62±0.32 (average: 9.34±0.28).
Frequency of bivalents, ring and rod configurations
per cell and chiasma per nucleus showed random
distribution over the plants (p>0.05) but univalents
per cell was non-random (p<0.01) as evidenced from
2 test of heterogeneity. Mostly (99.49%- pooled
over the plants) anaphase I (AI) cells manifested
equal 6/6 separation (Fig. 18) of chromosomes, rare
often unequal separation (5/7), lagging chromosome
and bridges were also noted. Pollen fertility among
black cumin plants varied from 95.2% to 100.0%
(average: 98.06%). Saha and Datta145 were further of
opinion that the meiotic chromosomes could easily
be identified and marked in meiotic plates.
Pachytene Chromosome Analysis: Datta147
reported that the length of pachytene chromosomes
(Fig. 19) in the species ranged from 51.86 µm to
140.55 µm with mostly median primary constrictions
(F%: 41.60 to 47.56; arm ratio: 0.71 to 0.91). A
telocentric (F%: 12.36; arm ratio: 0.41) was also
marked in the pachytene complement. Four
(chromosome type A- 140.55 µm; type B- 109.75 µm
and 97.89 µm; type C- 94.93 µm and 89.32 µm; type
D- 51.86 µm) morphological types were suggested
with 2 bivalents (B type) documenting secondary
constrictions. However, further studies on the
somatic complement has suggested that one pair of
chromosome were with secondary constriction145,146.
Accessory Nucleoli: Rang and Datta148 revealed
consistent presence of single nucleolus (size 8.36 µm
± 0.08) in PMCs (pollen mother cells) of N. sativa
and it is in accordance to the number of chromosome
with secondary constriction in the
complement145,14,146; however, nucleolus is not
commensurable to the number of secondarily
constricted chromosomes and it has been proven that
those chromosomal regions which code for 18S and
24S RNA are nucleolar organizing in nature149.
Rang and Datta148 found 1 (48.39% to 65.57%
PMCs; size: 8.30 µm ± 0.18) to 5 (size variation
between 1.67 µm and 8.30 µm) nucleoli (Figs. 20-
25) in different mutant (1-2: Lax branching and
viridis; 1-5: bushy, chloroxantha, crinkle leaf,
feathery leaf, narrow leaf) lines of N. sativa.
Nucleoli was either free or found in association to
different bivalents but occasionally two nucleoli of
different or same sizes were seen attached to a single
bivalent. Multiple and variable sized nucleoli
formation were presumed as an outcome of disturbed
genetic state of the plant types caused by gene
mutation and the mutant genes possibly have induced
changes in the regulatory system of the cell thereby
activating various latent loci capable of synthesizing
tiny nucleoli. Hiko-Lchi and Chen-Hui Kao150
attributed size variation of nucleolus on the basis of
difference in the intensity of nucleolar forming
Mitotic and Meiotic Abnormalities Arising out of
Irradiations: Kumar and Nizam151 assessed the
effect of X-rays on dry and pre-soaked seeds of N.
sativa and noted that the frequency of mitotic and
meiotic aberrations in the pre-soaked seeds was
higher than that of the dry seeds. The aberrations
encountered were mostly related to spindle
organization and formation of dicentrics, rings,
micronuclei and acentric fragments. Mandal and
Basu152 studied X-ray induced chromosomal
aberration from leaf meristems, pollen mother cells
and endosperm and reported that aberration
percentage increased with an increase in doses and
decrease with time lapse from 2 to 24 hours after
irradiations. Most resistant tissue was endosperm
though it had the largest Interphase Chromosome
Volume (ICV).
Datta and Biswas153 (X-irradiations to dry seeds,
doses- 6, 8, 10, 20, 30 kR, LD50- lie between 8 kR
and 10 kR), Datta et al.154 (gamma irradiations- 5,
10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 kR doses, seed moisture-
1.8%, LD50- lie between 20 kR and 30 kR, treatments
beyond 30 kR were lethal) and Mukherjee and
Datta155 (gamma irradiations- 50, 100, 150 and 200
Grey, moisture content- 19.04%, LD50 lie between 50
Gy and 100 Gy) reported physiological (germination
and seedling growth under petriplate conditions) and
chromosomal disturbances (mitotic and meiotic
including pollen fertility) in irradiated samples.
Frequency of total mitotic anomalies enhanced in
treatments but the percentage of dividing cells
decreased with an increase in the radiation doses, and
it was suggested that mitotic disturbances have
affected physiological processes like germination and
seedling growth. Apart from normal chromosome
configuration 2n=12 (Fig. 26), irradiations (X-
irradiation as well as gamma irradiations) have
induced chromosomal aberrations like fragments,
ring configuration of chromosome, pseudochiasma
like configurations, diplochromosomes, cells with
polyploid and aneuploid chromosome number and
deformed cellular configurations at metaphase (Figs.
27-31), and bridges (single, double, criss-cross, inter-
locked and incomplete) with or without fragments (2
to 4 identical sized and rare often with one fragment-
Figs. 32-41), and multipolar organization of
chromosomes at anaphase (Figs. 42-43). At resting
cells micronuclei (1-4 variable sizes; condensed as
well as uncondensed) and giant cells were also noted
(Figs. 44-47). Meiotic abnormalities studied
following irradiations (apart from normal 6II
formation- Figs. 48-49) were univalents (2-8, Figs.
50-52), fragments (paired identical sized- Fig. 53),
multivalents (Figs. 54-57), stickiness (Fig. 58) and
cell fusion (Fig. 59) at metaphase I (MI); while,
fragments, bridges with or without an accompanying
fragment were observed in anaphase I and II cells
irrespective of normal segregation of chromosome at
AI153,154,155 (Figs. 60-65). Mukherjee and Datta155
noted enhanced frequency of quadrivalents (mostly
ring- 89.79%, rest were of chain configuration) was
noted in higher doses of treatments. Most of the ring
quadrivalents were of adjacent orientation (63.64%);
while, the rest were alternate (34.09%) and rare often
non co-oriented (2.27%). A PMC at 200 Gy was
observed to posses 6II + two nearly identical sized
(2.93 µm and 2.59 µm) fragments (1.21%) thereby
suggesting localized breakage in chromosome due to
irradiation. Paired identical sized fragments (5.38
µm) at AI was also studied in one of the two
telocentric chromosomes (one telocentric is marked
intact at one pole). Pollen sterility and meiotic
anomalies studied have shown dose dependent
increasing tendencies thereby indicating that former
is an outcome of the latter.
Rang and Datta156 exposed dry, pre-soaked (12 hours
in distilled water), totally dehydrated and stored (one
year six months stored under desiccation; one season
stored seed) seed samples (moisture content: 7.5%)
of N. sativa to gamma irradiations (5, 10 and 20 kR
doses) and also that some amount of the dry
irradiated materials were treated with ethyl methane
sulfonate (EMS) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for
six hours at 0.25 percent to evaluate the cytogenetic
changes that might occur due to gamma-irradiation
influenced by the physical and chemical factors.
Assessment of radio-sensitivity has been made from
attributes like seed germination, rate of seedling
growth, mitotic index, frequency and spectrum of
chromosomal aberrations in root tip cells and pollen
and seed sterilities of M1 plants as well as M2
mutation (macromutants) frequency. Results
indicated that the factors (physical and combined
treatments) have influenced gamma radiation
sensitivity in inducing cytogenetical and genetical
changes along with M2 mutation frequency.
Mitotic Abnormalities Induced by Chemical
Treatments: Biswas and Bhattacharyaya157 studied
the effect of some mutagenic chemicals like mateic
hydrazide (MH), acridine orange (AO), ethyl
urethane and ethylene-diamine-tetracetic acid
(EDTA) at variable concentrations and durations on
the root tip mitosis of the species. The chemicals
induced cytological aberrations viz., fragments,
laggards, micronuclei, grouping and stickiness of
chromosomes and reduced mitotic index in
prolonged treatments and in higher concentrations.
The authors were of opinion that the chemicals
possibly affect nucleic acid synthesis in differential
manner which ultimately causes hazards in
replication thereby inducing chromosome breakage.
Kumar and Nizam158 studied induced somatic pairing
of homologous chromosomes from root tip mitosis
following treatment with mitomycin C. It was
observed that the homologous chromosomes become
juxtaposed to each other with remarkable regularity
in the prometaphase cells following treatment for 40
minutes, whereas the untreated cells showed no such
associations. It was presumed that these movements
may be due to kinetochore activity which normally
causes congregation of chromosomes towards the
equatorial plate of the spindle but which does not
occur contemporaneously in all chromosomes. In
view of the observation, the authors were inclined to
believe that kinetochores were responsible for
placing homologues near each other and stickiness
has been attributed to be a factor for association of
homologous chromosomes.
Chand159 reported that pentachlorophenol (PCP)
inhibited mitosis in shorter duration of treatments
and cytological abnormalities were formed.
Incorporation studies revealed that PCP inhibited
DNA synthesis. The chemical was found to affect
nuclear membrane cycle, chromosome division
cycle, spindle organization and chromosome
movement, condensation and spiralization of
chromosomes and DNA and protein synthesis.
Induced mutagenesis
Variants in M1 Generation: Datta and Biswas160
reported that as compared to the erect nature of the
stem in untreated control plants, stem anomalies
including bifurcation (Fig. 66), trifurcation (Fig. 67-
68), twisting (Fig. 69), unbranched (Fig. 70) and
twining nature of stem (Fig. 67) were observed at 4,
10 and 30 kR of X-ray doses and 2 and 4 hours
treatment with 0.75% and 0.50% EMS respectively.
Interesting floral anomalies were found to occur in
all treated doses of EMS and only 20 kR X-
irradiation. In relation to control flower (Fig. 71)
interesting floral variations like adnation of sepals,
elongated and strap shaped petals, two gynoecium in
the same flower and presence of bract like structures
(incompletely forked) similar to that of the petalloid
sepals were observed (Figs. 72-78). The
abnormalities studied at M1 have not recurred in M2
generation and these were non-inheritable changes
(chimeric in nature) possible arising out of somatic
Macromutants and Their Inheritance Pattern:
Kumar and Nizam161 induced (X-rays and gamma
rays) few viable mutants such as multicolor capsular
fruits and color fruit coat with ornamentations
including mutation affecting branching pattern and
fertility at M2. Datta and Biswas160 induced (X-ray
and EMS) several chlorophyll (albina > xantha >
chlorotica > chloroxantha > albescens > albino-
terminals > xantha-terminals > lutea > viridis =
marginata = coeruleovirens) and morphological (13
different types; 9 viable – lax branching - Fig. 80,
feathery leaf, bushy, male sterile, crumpled leaf,
dwarf, early flowering, prostrate - Fig. 81, and
brown seed coat; 4 non-viable types– cup - Fig. 85,
needle leaf, crinckle leaf and cotyledonary leaf)
mutants in relation to normal trait (Fig. 79).
Threshold doses were effective and efficient and
0.5% EMS, 2 hours treatment was the best among all
the treated doses. Chlorophyll mutatuions occurred
predominantly than other types and among them
viridis and chloroxantha were the viable types and
were found to be controlled by two pairs of recessive
genes; while, the mutant trait(s) of bushy, dwarf,
feathery leaf, lax branching and early flowering
mutants were controlled by a single pair of recessive
gene. Datta and Biswas162 assessed different mutants
(lax branching, feathery leaf, bushy, early flowering,
prostrate, dwarf, brown seed coat and viridis) for
different quantitative traits at M2, M
and M
generations (ANOVA performed in mutant lines with
control at M4) and were of opinion that the mutants
have exhibited superiority over the control plants in
some of the characters only but not in all the
parameters. This observation was significant as it
offered scope of improvement through hybridization
and selection.
Mitra and Bhowmick163 induced ten different types
of chlorophyll mutation in two cultivars of N. sativa
following treatments with gamma irradiation and
EMS. Higher doses of gamma-rays and lower
concentration and duration of EMS were reported to
be most efficient. Mitra and Bhoumick164 studied the
mutagenic effects (gamma irradiation and EMS) of
some biological parameters in M1 generation and
suggested that gamma irradiations were more
effective than EMS and the cultivar KS-1 was more
sensitive to mutagens under the tested doses and
Datta and Rang165 screened seven viable
morphological mutants (lax branching, feathery leaf,
bushy I - Fig. 82, bushy II - Fig. 83, lax pinnae - Fig.
84, needle leaf and crumpled leaf) from 7956 treated
plants at M2 following mutagen treatments (gamma-
rays, EMS and H2O2 and their combined treatments)
to dry seeds (moisture content: 7.5%). F2 segregation
(control × mutant, F1 normal) revealed that lax
branching, feathery leaf, bushy I (associated traits:
synchronous flowering, compact habit, thick dark
green pinnae of leaves), bushy II (thick dark green
pinnae of leaves) and lax pinnae (pinnae elongated)
mutant traits were controlled by a single pair of
recessive genes; while, selfed lines of needle leaf and
crumpled leaf mutants showed that the mutant traits
were controlled by two pairs of recessive genes.
Datta and Rang166 spotted a viable chloroxantha
mutant in EMS treated population at M2. The
seedlings of chloroxantha (Fig. 86) were pale
greenish yellow in color (2012 – “Dictionary of
Colour” by Maerz and Paul 1950) and the mutant
could be easily marked at the very seedling stage.
The mutant plants showed delayed flowering (17 to
29 days from control plants) and maturity, which
indicates that the mutant being deficient in
chlorophyll content might have utilized their
buffering capacity to maintain the photosynthetic
efficiency by increasing the number of branches
(consequently pinnae of the leaves increased in the
mutant) and duration of the crop to complete their
life cycle successfully. The inheritance of the mutant
trait was recessive and was under the control of two
gene loci. The mutant was compared with control at
M4 and results indicated that chloroxantha possessed
higher number of primary branches and capsules per
plant and had smaller seed (length) than normal;
although, other traits were more or less comparable
to normal plants. The authors presumed that the color
of chloroxantha may be exploited as genetic marker
for efficient breeding.
Rang and Datta167 spotted five dark reddish brown
(color code - 3/2), one yellowish brown (5/4) and one
peach (512/1) color (colors were confirmed from
Horticultural Color Chart 1968 and Munsell Soil
Color Chart 1975) seeded plants at M2 following
different treatments of gamma irradiations and EMS.
Mutation frequency of dark reddish brown color
(Fig. 89), yellowish brown color (Fig. 88) and
bicolor (peach color was associated with blackish
tinge at the base and the apical region – therefore
designated as ‘bicolor’ - Fig. 90) was estimated to be
1.92, 0.055 and 0.54 percent respectively (7956
plants scored). Dark reddish brown and yellowish
brown seed-coat color traits were monogenic
recessive to black seeds (Figs. 87-90); while, the
inheritance of bicolor trait of seeds was under the
control of two pairs of recessive genes (mutant ×
normal – reciprocal crosses were performed, F1
black and F2 segregation analyzed following 2 – test
analysis). Crossing experiments suggested that black
coloration of seeds is dominant over other seed
colors and gene symbols assigned were B for black,
bdr for dark reddish brown and By for yellowish
brown colors and p for peach color of seeds, and the
dominant form (P) of this gene has no effect on B or
on any allelic forms of B (bdr/by) and the mutation
involving both the dominant genes (B-P) results to
bicolor seeds. Following genotypes were proposed
for the seed-coat colors – BBPP, bdr bdr PP, bybyPP
and bbpp for black, dark reddish brown, yellowish
brown and bicolor seeds respectively. The true
breeding mutant plants were evaluated at M4 in
comparison to control for several agronomic traits
and it was noted that dark reddish brown seed coat
mutant was as productive as normal; while the
bicolor and the yellowish brown seed coat mutants
were sort sized and small seeded plants.
Polygenic Mutation: Datta and Biswas168 analyzed
variations for quantitative characteristics (plant
height, number of primary and total branches per
plant, total capsules, capsule chamber/fruit, capsule
length and seed per capsule) from 10 randomly
selected plants of each of the M2 (X-irradiated and
EMS treated) lines and computed mean and
coefficient of variations and also determined student
t-test between control and treatment. The magnitude
of variability released (as evidenced from C.V.)
through induction of mutation was both positive as
well as in negative direction, thereby suggesting
random nature of mutation.
Biochemical Studies on Induced Mutants:
Electrophoretic characterization and evaluation of
seed protein in control and EMS induced mutant line
of the species were performed from seed samples169
and the qualitative as well as quantitative variations
in banding pattern among the plants were noted. The
authors were of opinion that electrophoretic
characterization of the mutant lines may be used as
an additional parameter to supplement cytogenetic
data in understanding genetic variations. Das et al.170
extracted protease from germinating seeds of wild
type and seven EMS induced mutant lines of N.
sativa and the activity was assayed with casein as
substrate in the pH range 3.5-8.0. Results indicated
that most protease types showed pH 3.6-7.0 and
more than one protease enzyme in the plant types
tested. Amylase activity and variation of amylase
isozyme pattern were also studied and it was reported
that gene(s) controlling enzyme production/activity
have been affected differentially in different mutants.
Cytogenetical consequences of induced
Translocation Heterozygosity: Datta and Biswas171
isolated a cytologically marked plant (phenotypically
indistinguishable) from the R1 population of gamma
irradiations, which showed ring or a chain
quadrivalent in 49.38% meiocytes at MI (241 cells
scored). Although normal 6II formation was noted
predominantly (50.72%) at MI, the most common
type of configuration studied in the marked plant was
4II+1IV (34.25%); while in the remaining meiocytes
the quadrivalent appeared in association with 2
univalents. PMCs with ring of four chromosomes
(41.08%) occurred more frequently than those with
chain quadrivalent (8.3%). Among the meiocytes
showing interchanged configurations, 65.55% were
alternate and 34.45% were with adjacent
orientations. Anaphase I separation was mostly
(82.0%) balanced (6/6) although pollen sterility was
high (55.8%) with extremely poor seed setting
(12.2±5.7) per capsule as compared to normal (pollen
sterility – 2.2 to 3.6%; seed setting 65.6±4.2/capsule)
Datta and Biswas172 screened four extremely dwarf
plants at M3 having identical leaf phenotype as their
progenitor from the selfed M2 feathery leaf mutant
(0.50%, 2 hour EMS treatment). Meiotic studies
revealed the characteristic presence of paired
fragments in the parent (M2) and multivalents in the
dwarf mutant plants (M3 as well as M4). The dwarf
plants were designated as telescopic mutants as the
leaves were found to be clustered around the stem
forming a crown-like appearance. Out of four
telescopic mutant (Fig. 91), one of which showed
prevalence of ring quadrivalent. The cytogenetically
marked telescopic mutant was semisterile and the
possible origin of the mutant lines has been ascribed
due to deficiency of genes as an outcome of
chromosomal deletion in the parent.
Saha and Datta145 induced 5 translocation
heterozygotes (P-14 and P-26 from 5 kR and P-32, P-
36 from 10 kR) following gamma irradiations (5, 10
and 20 kR) to dry seeds (moisture content 7.5%). P-
14 (possessing long drooping floral shoot), P-32 (lax
branching) and P-36 (semi-dwarf with thick and non-
shattering capsules) were viable translocations;
while, P-26 and P-37 yielded only abortive seeds at
R1 following selfing and on open or controlled
pollination. The translocation heterozygotes
exhibited the formation of either a ring or a chain of
4 chromosomes in 38.7% to 77.7% meiocytes apart
from 6II formation (Figs. 92-101). Predominance of
rings occurred in all translocation heterozygotes
excepting P-26 where rings and chains were nearly
equal. P-14 and P-26 had more adjacent orientation
of quadrivalents than alternate; while, P-32, P-36 and
P-37 demonstrated random orientations. The
quadrivalent behavior was found to be persistent in
all generations (R1, R2 and R3) of P-14, P-32 and P-
36. The rings showed preponderance of adjacent
orientation and the chains demonstrated frequent
alternate orientation. Though normal 6/6 separation
of chromosomes at AI was observed in 85.8, 83.3,
69.4, 82.3 and 86.4% cells of P-14, P-26, P-32, P-36
and P-37 respectively (rest showed unequal
separation of chromosomes and bridge formation
with a lagging fragment - Figs. 102-103), pollen
fertility was reduced in the heterozygotes (8.2 to
37.5%). F1’s raised from intercrossing of P-14, P-32
and P-36 were meiotically assessed and the results
indicated that same 2 non-homologus chromosomes
were involved in translocation and the 2 longest pairs
were suggested to be associated.
Desynapsis (Synaptic Mutants): Datta and
Biswas173 noted desynaptic behavior of
chromosomes in a bushy mutant (M2 generation,
0.5% EMS, 2 hour treatment) and the mutant trait
was reported to be controlled by a single pair of
recessive genes. The bushy mutant plant could
always be characterized by their delayed
germination, flowering and maturity, high frequency
of sterile pollen grain formation, poor seed setting
and univalent formation in the meiocytes. Desynapsis
studied in the mutant was partial or weak because of
high frequency of bivalents per cell (4.70 to 5.24)
than univalent per cell (1.53 to 2.59). Compared to
controls (5.24 ± 0.41 chiasma/cell), frequency of
chiasma has been found to be decreased in M2 bushy
mutant (4.57 ± 0.49 /cell). Univalents formed in the
mutant line were found to be distributed randomly in
most of the cases, which were not affected by the
number of bivalents per cell. Less frequently,
however, occurrence of univalent in close proximity
to each other could be marked, which may be an
indication of their belonging to same pair and their
very recent separation. Anaphase I separation was
irregular (34.44% to 44.23%) in the mutant line
leading to the formation of laggards and unequal
separation of chromosomes. Lagging chromosomes
at anaphase II and unequal size of microspores in tri-
and polysporous condition were also noted.
Saha and Datta174 reported two synaptic mutants
(DS-1, 5 kR gamma irradiations; DS-2, 10 kR) at M2
(screened from 6582 M1 plant progenies) possessing
distinctive phenotypic marker trait (lax branching).
The synaptic mutants (medium strong type)
demonstrated fuzzy appearance of chromosomes at
early prophase I (Figs. 104-105) along with univalent
frequency ranging from 0 to 12 (enhanced frequency
- Figs. 106-112) per cell (control: 0.10, DS-1: 2.47,
DS-2: 3.50), reduced number of chiasma and bivalent
per nucleus (control: 5.95 II/cell, chiasma 9.34 ± 0.3;
DS-1: 4.77 II/cell, chiasma 7.40 ± 0.3; DS-2: 4.25
II/cell, chiasma 5.59 ± 0.4), few meiocytes with
unequal separation (5/7, 5-1-6 and 4/8) at AI
(control: 0.5%, DS-1: 15.6%, DS-2: 22.5%),
cytologically balanced AII cells and high pollen
fertility (control: 98.06%; DS-1: 96.57%; DS-2:
Male Sterility: Male sterile mutants with distinctive
phenotypic marker traits (bushy- EMS treatment;
Datta and Biswas175; chlorophyll deficiency- 6 hours
0.25% EMS - Fig. 113; Rang and Datta176; dwarf-
chlorophyll deficiency - Fig. 116, crumpled pinnae -
Fig. 115, bushy - Fig. 114 and lax pinnae, gamma
irradiation- 5, 10 and 20 kR and EMS- 0.25, 0.50 and
1.00%, 3 hours; Datta and Saha177) were isolated
from M2 mutagenized population. Concomitant
association of phenotypic marker trait(s) with male
sterility was unique as it not only give selective
advantage but will also be of immense value in the
breeding behavior of the crop.
Datta and Biswas175 isolated a male sterile mutant
which was indistinguishable at earlier stages of
growth, but the mature plant could be recognized by
its characteristics dark green, thick and leather like
pinnae of the leaves and synchronous flowering.
Although the mutant demonstrated normal behavior
of meiotic chromosome with 6 bivalents in MI cells
and usual formation of tetrads, none of the pollen
grains could be scored in the mutant which is an
indication of complete inhibition of pollen grain
development leading to male sterility. Post tetrad
developmental disturbances might be responsible for
arrestation of pollen formation.
Rang and Datta176 reported a male sterile plant which
exhibit broad elongated lax pinnae along with
yellowish green pinnae in the shoot apex of the
primary axis at the onset of floral bud initiation (Fig.
113), and non-dehiscent and pollenless anthers at
anthesis. The male sterile plant showed desynaptic
behavior of chromosomes and the chromosomal
association studied at diplotene, diakinesis and MI
(168 PMCs scored) were 6II (4.76%) - Fig. 117,
5II+2I (9.52%), 4II+4I (4.76%) and 12I (80.95%) -
Fig. 118-119. Mean frequency of univalents and
bivalents per cell was estimated to be 10.10 and 0.90
respectively, chiasma frequency per nucleus
observed in the male sterile plant was 0.31±1.2 as
compared to 9.9±0.74 in normal plants. Unequal
separation of chromosomes was studied in AI
(71.43%) and AII (42.62%) from 82 and 122 cells
respectively. The male sterile plant produced tetrads
mostly with unequal spory (Fig. 120) followed by
near complete degeneration of microspores (Fig.
121) compared to normal oval shaped fertile pollen
grains in control plants (Fig. 122).
Datta and Saha177 categorized male sterile mutant
plants into five (I to V) types on the basis of sterility
and morphology. The mutants were type I: mutant
dwarf, pollen grains 100.0% sterile and showed sign
of degeneration, pollen grains were round and small
sized 27.2 µm × 24.8 µm (Figs. 128-129) as
compared to oval shaped pollen grains (Fig. 130),
39.0 µm × 38.08 µm; type II: mutant yellowish green
color, 100.0% sterile pollen grains, small roundish
with thick wall; type III: mutant with crumpled and
deformed pinnae of leaves, anther small sized 3.74
mm ± 0.05, brownish, shrunken and indehiscent and
were completely pollenless at maturity. Meiotic
analysis revealed no clear bivalent formation, rather
the chromatin agglutinated into unequal masses
(Figs. 123-125). Agglutination of microspores was
also evident which consequently degenerated (Figs.
126-127); type IV: bushy, normal cytological
behavior, 100.0% sterile pollen grains; type V: the
mutant plants were with long elongated and dissected
pinnae of leaves and the pinnae were lax in nature.
The mutant plants demonstrated normal meiotic
chromosomal behavior and formed tetrads but the
pollen grains were completely sterile. The male
sterile mutants showed monogenic recessive (IV to
V) as well as digenic recessive (II) mode of
inheritance pattern. Type I and III were both male
and female sterile. The mutants arising out of gene
mutation and the mutant genes have favoured the
continuation of meiosis and thereafter they have
acted on microspores and on pollen grains. The
mutants were non-structural nuclear type as per
classification proposed by Gottschalk and Kaul178
and Johns et al.179.
Trisomic: Datta and Biswas180 isolated a trisomic
(detected after male meiotic studies) plant from the
selfed progenies of M2 lax branching mutant at M3.
Morphologically the trisomic plant was weak with
slender stem and drooping lamina at the seedling
stage. At maturity the plant attained a height of 19.7
cm. Flowering in the trisomic was delayed by 10-11
days as compared to normal plants. Only four flower
buds of the trisomic bloomed, while the rest dried up.
Flowers were smaller in size and at maturity the
stamens turned brownish in contrast to yellowish
green color in the control and ultimately rudimentary
capsules with abortive seeds were formed. The
trisomic showed 6II+1 (87.8%) and 5II+ 1III (12.2%)
chromosomal associations in 72 and 10 PMCs
respectively (Figs. 131-133). At AI, either the extra
chromosome appeared as laggard or has been
incorporated in any of the two poles (Fig. 134). The
aneuploid plant appeared to be a primary trisomic,
with 58.17% pollen sterility and it was completely
seed sterile.
Cytomixis: Datta and Biswas180 studied transfer of
nuclear materials from one PMC to another at
prophase I and MI while performing male meiotic
analysis in M2 mutants (observed in lax branching
mutant). Chromatin transfer between adjacent
meiocytes occurred through cytoplasmic links and
the migration was at random within a group of PMCs
(Figs. 135-137). The phenomenon of cytomixis was
restricted between/among few clusters of meiocytes
of a single microsporophyll squash preparation.
Cytomixis resulted in hypo- and hyperploid variation
in chromosome numbers (19.87%) in meiocytes,
thereby producing aneuploid and polyploid PMCs.
The nucleolus of the meiocytes, undergoing
chromatin transfer, in most cases remained in the
donor cell; rarely it passed to the cytoplasm of the
recipient cell along with the chromatin materials.
Clumping and sticky nature of the nuclear materials
were also noted in certain PMCs.
Meiotic Instability: Datta and Biswas181 identified a
phenotypically aberrant and sterile plant at M3 in the
selfed progeny of EMS-induced M2 mutant (lax
branching), which showed aneuploid variation in
chromosome numbers. Phenotypically, the aberrant
plant exhibited lax branching nature (Fig. 138)
attaining a relatively shorter height (32.7 cm) at
maturity as compared to rather erect (43.65 cm ±
1.72) and compact habit of the normal plants. During
the initial growth period of the plant the pinnae of
lamina were represented by linear, thicker appendage
like structures and at the latter stages few normal
leaves developed. Most of the flower buds
terminated in rudimentary flowers excepting a few
which bloomed after 121 – 137 days after sowing
instead of 70 – 98 days in control plants. The flowers
had only 1–2 normal looking stamens, while rest of
the microsporophylls were represented as leafy
projections. These flowers produced only
rudimentary capsules with abortive seeds. Meiotic
analysis revealed distinct chromosomal instability -
Figs. 139-143 (2II+5I – 2.6%, 5II – 5.3%, 11I –
2.6%, 5II+1I – 7.9%, 4II+3I – 7.9%, 6II – 26.3%,
1IV+ 4II+2I – 5.3%, 7II – 5.3%, 12 II – 36.8%, 78
PMCs could only be analyzed) with remarkably
higher pollen sterility (78.5%). Both stained and
unstained pollen grains were considerably smaller
sized (10.05 µm ± 0.2; normal – 39.8 µm ± 0.6) than
control pollen grains (Figs. 144-145). Moreover,
functional instability of the stained (fertile) pollen
has been evidenced by the formation of only
rudimentary seeds in the marker plant. The aberrant
has been ascribed as the outcome of cytomixis noted
in lax branching M2 mutant.
Induced polyploidy
Biswas and Chatterjee182 induced tetraploid plants
following seed and seedling treatments with various
concentrations of colchicine and the plants were with
increased number of branches, enhanced size and
frequency of stomata, increase in the number of
flowers, variation in pollen size, fruit setting and the
rate of germination of seeds, increase in the number
of septa per fruit and seeds per septum and delayed
flowering. Biswas and Datta183 performed meiotic
analysis in colchicine induced (seedling treatments)
autotetraploid plants and found prevalence of
chromosome irregularities producing varying number
of quadrivalents (0-4), trivalents (0-2) and univalent
(0-10). The tetraploids were seed sterile.
Saha and Datta184 induced one autotetraploid (C0-1; 5
hour treatment with 0.5% aqueous solution of
colchicine for 3 consecutive days) following
treatment with colchicine at the apical meristematic
tips of young seedlings bearing only two
cotyledonary leaves. The autotetraploid at maturity
yielded 37 healthy seeds, 30 seeds were sown in C1
generation and 11 plants were obtained of which 4
were cytologically confirmed to be autotetraploids.
The seeds of C1 tetraploids were bulked and 25
randomly selected healthy seeds were sown in C2
generation from which 5 plants were obtained and all
were meiotically confirmed to be tetraploids. The
most prominent morphological changes of C0-1
tetraploid and its progenies at C1 and C
increase in flower and capsule sterility and reduction
in seed number per capsule and seed fertility
(expressed as per cent of control). Seed set in the
tetraploid plants varied from 0.64 to 12.62% of
control, thereby demonstrating negative selection
value of induced autotetraploids. However, one
autotetraploid (C2-2) possessed some useful traits
compared to the diploid and other tetraploids (Figs.
146-147). The C2-2 plant yielded 118 good seeds
(12.62% of control) and the flowers (significantly
larger than those of diploids) of the plant
(synchronous flowering) remained in blooming stage
for a considerably long period (25 to 32 days) than
the flowers of diploids (4 to 5 days) and the other
tetraploids (8 to 12 days) studied over two
generations. Compared to normal (Fig. 148) diploids
(2n=12) the induced tetraploids (2n=4x=24) formed
quadrivalents (0-4), bivalents (1-12) and univalent
(0-14) in varying proportion at MI (Figs. 149-151).
Trivalents (0-2) were only observed in C0-1 plant.
The induced tetraploids formed 0.80 to 2.08
quadrivalents per cell and the coefficient of
quadrivalent realization was low. Chi-square test of
heterogeneity revealed that the frequency of
bivalents and quadrivalents per cell among the
tetraploids was random (p>0.05) but number of
univalent per cell was non-random (p<0.001). The
mean chromosomal association in C2-2 was
1.37IV+9.00II+0.50I (32 PMCs scored). The
univalent frequency among tetraploids demonstrated
significant positive correlation with abnormal AI
(laggards, bridges, groupings and unequal separation
- Figs. 152-158) cells (r=0.81; p<0.05). Anaphase II
cells showed unequal and multisporic conditions
(Figs. 159-160).
The abnormal AI cells showed significant negative
correlation with pollen fertility (r=-0.99, p<0.001).
However, the correlation between frequency of
abnormal AI cells and seed set and between pollen
fertility and seed yield and between pollen fertility
and seed fertility were non-significant. Cytological
examination of induced autotetraploids leads to the
conclusion that reduction in pollen fertility was the
result of chromosomal disturbances arising from
pairing irregularities. Seed sterility seems to have a
genetical rather than cytological basis.
Genetic variability
Datta147 studied relationship between yield and its
attributes (plant height, number of primary
branches/plant, total capsules/plant and
seeds/capsules) and found significant positive
correlation in all cases excepting for seed/capsule.
Plant height was positively associated with primary
branches/plant (r=0.71, p<0.01) and total
capsules/plant (r=0.69, p<0.01); while, number of
primary branches/plant was significantly associated
with capsules/plant (r=0.80, p<0.01). However,
capsules/plant showed insignificant relationship with
seeds/capsule (r=0.04, p>0.05). Path coefficient
analysis revealed that the direct contribution of total
number of capsules/plant (P35=0.7460) was very high
and the trait indirectly contributed in high amount
through plant height and number of primary
branches. Direct contribution of plant height
(P15=0.2886) and seeds/capsule (P45=0.1296) to yield
was relatively low. Primary branches/plant (P25=-
0.3374) showed negative contribution to yield.
Results indicated that capsules/plant is the most
important trait for selection and crop improvement.
Iqbal et al.185 studied 34 accessions with 2 check
genotypes of black cumin for assessment of mineral
nutrients. High variation was recorded for Fe, Ca,
Cu, Mg, Pb, Zn, Co, Mn, Na, P, B, K and N amongst
genotypes suggesting sample selection based on the
composition of mineral nutrients. Correlation studies
revealed significant association between Cu and Ca,
and between Mg and Ca and Mg and Cu. Based on
principle component analysis (PCA) six clusters
were observed and it was suggested that the
genotypes may be utilized in various combinations
for genetic improvement of the species. Iqbal et al.186
recorded genetic variation for plant height, days to
first flower, days to 50% flowers, days to maturity,
biomass, capsule weight, yield, seed weight and
harvest index while studing 31 genotypes under field
conditions with 3 replications. Three accession
(MP00023, MP00111 and MP00120) were found
better for more than one character and are expected
to be a potential for improvement of N. sativa.
Tissue culture
Callus Induction: Banerjee and Gupta187 raised
calluses from leaf tissues and were of opinion that
induction of calluses depended on the balance
between auxin and kinetin in the medium and
coconut milk factor as a source of kinetin. Chand and
Roy188 used different concentrations of 2,4-D, NAA
and IAA to explore maximum callusing in the
species. The concentration of kinetin has been kept
constant throughout the experiments. The calluses
grown in medium containing NAA, have been found
to be friable, soft and green in color than in media
containing IAA and 2,4-D. It was suggested that
NAA was most favorable for producing callus tissue.
Ghosh and Gadgil189 initiated callus culture from
excised hypocotyl segment when cultured in MS agar
medium supplemented with IAA, NAA, IBA and
2,4-D. Chand and Roy190 observed that in presence of
GA in the media the seeds as explant grew into
plantlet and there was no callus formation; while in
the presence of NAA in the media seeds first
produced calli from which plantlet developed. In the
presence of IAA seeds grew into plants but at the
base callus formation took place. In all cases amount
of kinetin and coconut milk were kept constant. It
was also pointed out that in presence of 2,4-D,
kinetin and coconut milk seed proliferated into callus
tissue without formation of plantlets. Datta et al.191
reported calli formation from hypocotyl segment in
MS medium supplemented with 2,4-D (2 mg/l) and
kinetin (1 mg/l), and they were creamy white,
compact ones. Youssef et al.192 reported that 0.05 per
cent casein hydrolysate promotes callus growth;
however, growth was reduced by increasing salinity.
On the contrary, it was also suggested that
accumulation of primary products in callus cultures
is enhanced by salt stress. Al-Ani193 cultured roots,
hypocotyls and leaves in MS medium supplemented
with 2,4-D (0.0, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 mg/l) and kinetin
(0.0, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 5.0 mg/l) and best
callusing was obtained from leaf explants with 1
mg/l 2,4-D and 1.5 mg/l Kin. Such callus yielded
higher thymol concentrations after 75 days by HPLC.
Suspension Culture: Banerjee and Gupta194 reported
that in suspension culture 91% free cells of N. sativa
was obtained in WHITE’s medium supplemented
with casein hydrolysate, inositol and adenine. Ploidy
distribution pattern was similar in cell clumps of
different sizes and free cells. Chromosomal
irregularities were more in free cells. A number of
globular embryoid were formed when casein
hydrolysate, inositol and adenine were added in the
medium after subsequent omission of auxin and
coconut milk.
Embryogenesis: Banerjee and Gupta195 noted
embryogenesis in leaf callus (MS media
supplemented with casein hydrolysate; coconut milk
replaced). Casein hydrolysate suppressed the
differentiating capacity at a concentration of 100mg/l
after fifth subculture. It was reported that 2,4-D and
kinetin have inhibiting effect on morphogenesis. On
the histological examination of differentiated tissue,
it was observed that roots, shoots, buds and leaves
have originated from group of meristematic cells
whereas embryoids have initiated by the repeated
division of single cell.
Elhag et al.196 with an objective of inducing and
isolating somatic embryos for biosynthetic studies
callus cultures were initiated from leaf, stem and root
explants of axenic seedlings on MSB5 basal medium
supplemented with kinetin (0.46 µM) and 2,4-D (4.5
or 13.5 µM) or NAA (5.4 or 16.2 µM) in the dark.
Cultures initiated and subcultured on medium
containing NAA produced friable callus with
numerous roots regardless of explant type. These
cultures differentiated into somatic embryos on
medium containing NAA. The embryos developed
into leafy structures on basal medium devoid of
growth regulators. When the embryogenic callus was
transferred to liquid medium containing NAA,
numerous embryos and clusters of embryos were
released into the liquid medium but, in contrast to
solid medium, development remained arrested at the
early embryonic stages.
Chromosomal Instability: Chand and Roy188
reported very high number of chromosomes in media
containing 2,4-D and kinetin; while NAA resulted
very minor chromosomal variations. Ghosh and
Gadgil189 found shift in ploidy level from diploid to
higher polyploids in presence of 2,4-D and when
kinetin was mixed with 2,4-D or 2,4-D mixed with
coconut milk factor. Bansal and Sen197 reported that
polyploidy has been a common feature of occurrence
in calluses induced from root, shoot and leaf tissues
and their appearance did not show marked difference
in the tissues. Datta et al.191 studied numerical
variations in chromosome number including
polyploidy, aneuploidy and haploidy as well as
structural anomalies (Figs. 161-166) from callus
tissues raised from hypocotyl segment. Frequent
chromosome elimination in different cell lines was
noted; however, the marker chromosomes
(telocentric) were found constantly at different
ploidy level. Kumar and Roy198 were of opinion that
apart from occurrence of high frequency of aneuploid
and polyploid cells in callus tissues, structural
anomalies like binucleate cell, micronuclei,
diplochromosomes, multipolarity, sticky bridges and
ring chromosomes formation was also observed.
Anomalies might be due to endoduplication and
various mitotic disturbances.
Molecular genetics
Al-Huqail and Al-Saad199 performed DNA
fingerprinting in 4 accessions from Saudi Arabia,
Ethiopia, Egypt and Syria with an objective of
genotypic characterization between/among black
cumin taxa. Inter Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR)
method was employed in the PCR technique to detect
genetic polymorphism. The scored bands of the DNA
fingerprints (17 primers representing 3 types of
intermicrosatelites – di, tri and tetra of short tandem
repeats) were 108 in Saudi Arabia, 106 in Ethiopia,
100 in Egypt and 81 in Syria and the percentage of
dissimilarity was computed to be 21.5-36.3%.
Twenty four genes representing 24 different enzymes
and isozymes were selected and scanned via PCR
technique using suitable SSR primers and the
obtained results showed some changes in the genetic
structure of some of these genes. Iqbal et al.200
carried out investigation to explore genotype specific
fingerprinting of 32 germplasms based on randomly
amplified polymorphic DNA markers. From 58
random primers used, 15 primers generated 249
reproducible and scorable amplification products
across all the genotypes, out of which 164 (66.0%)
fragments were polymorphic revealing a high level
of polymorphism among the genotypes. The
proportion of common bands was low (34.0%). In 13
genotypes, 27 bands of different masses (kilobases)
were recorded and were considered specific. The
specific/amplified PCR products were reported to be
used as molecular markers for identification of
germplasms and resource protection. The result of
genetic polymorphism was validated from UPGMA
and PCA.
1. APETALA 3 – like protein (AP3-3) mRNA,
746bp, linear, partial cds, accession
2. APETALA 3 – like protein (AP3-2) mRNA,
865bp, linear, partial cds, accession
3. PISTILLATA – like protein (PI-2) mRNA,
809bp, linear, partial cds, accession
4. PISTILLATA – like protein (PI-1) mRNA,
840bp, linear, partial cds, accession
5. microsatellite NIG_HSP 70 sequence, DNA,
345bp, linear, accession – HM803244.1202.
6. Nigella sativa voucher A. Guener, M. Vural and
H. Sagban 9189 internal transcribed spacer 1,
5.8S ribosomal RNA gene, and internal
transcribed spacer 2, complete sequence, DNA,
621 bp, linear, EU699463203.
7. Nigella sativa internal transcribed spacer 1, 5.8S
ribosomal RNA gene, and internal transcribed
spacer 2, complete sequence, DNA, 621 bp,
linear, EU699464203.
8. Nigella sativa beta-amyrin synthase (basl)
mRNA, complete cds, mRNA, 2430 bp, linear,
9. Nigella sativa beta-amyrin synthase (basl) gene,
complete cds, DNA, 4444 bp, FJ013229204.
10. Nigella sativa squalene epoxidase 1 (seq 1)
mRNA, complete cds, mRNA, 1566 bp, linear,
Nigella sativa currently has five FDA (Food and
Drug Administration) separate patents in the U.S.A.
for the treatment of:
1. Inhibition of cancer cell growth, Patent no.- US
5,653,981, Inventor- R. D. Medenica.
2. Diabetes, No.-US 6,042,834, Inventor – Wasif
3. Improvement of the Immune System, No.- US
5,482,711, Inventor – R. D. Medenica.
4. Viral Infections, No.- US 6,841,174, Inventor – S.
I. A. Shalaby and E. M. A. H. Allah.
5. Psoriasis, No.- US 6,531,164, Inventor – H. H. R.
Figs. 1-4. 1) Normal N. sativa plant. 2) Flower before pollination. 3) Flower after pollination. 4) Seeds of black
Figs. 5-10. Scanning Electron Microscopy of seed surfaces of black cumin. [Source: Cytologia 68, 2003]
Figs. 11-14. Chromosomes (2n=12) in Nigella sativa. 11) Mitotic chromosome. 12) Photoplate ideogram
showing 4 (AA, BB, CC, DD) chromosome types. 13-14) Diplotene plates where the bivalents are marked.
Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 67(4), 2002]
Figs. 15-18. Meiotic configurations (2n=12). 15-16) 6II at diplotene. 17) MI showing 6II. 18)6-6 separation of
chromosomes at AI. Bar=15 µm.
Fig. 19. Pachytene chromosome configurations.
Figs. 20-25. PMCs at prophase I showing variation in number and size of nucleoli in control and in mutant lines
of N. sativa. 20) One nucleolus. 21-22) Two unequal sized nucleoli, unattached to bivalents. 23) Three nucleoli.
24) Four nucleoli of which two are attached to a bivalent (a) and three unequal sized nucleoli (b). 25) Five
nucleoli. Bar=15 µm. [Source: J. Phytol. Res. 12(1-2), 1999]
Figs. 26-31. Mitotic consequences following irradiations at metaphase. 26) 2n=12 – normal configuration. 27)
Pseudochiasma like configuration. 28) Ring chromosome. 29) Diplochromatic nature of chromosomes in a
polyploid cell. 30) Abnormal shaped cell with chromosome bending. 31) Aneuploid cell with fragments and
unequal chromosome length. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 48, 1983; Cytologia 51, 1986; J. Plant Dev. Sci.
3(1), 2011]
Figs. 32-37. Anaphase bridge formation in irradiated samples. 32) Single bridge with a round globular fragment.
33) Double bridge. 34) Double bridge with equal sized round and rod fragments. 35-36) Criss-cross bridge. 37)
Interlocked bridge. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 48, 1983; Cytologia 51, 1986; J. Plant Dev. Sci. 3(1), 2011]
Figs. 38-41. Anaphasic events following irradiations. 38-39) Incomplete bridge with two identical sized
fragments. 40) Paired fragments. 41) Four fragments. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 48, 1983; Cytologia 51,
1986; J. Plant Dev. Sci. 3(1), 2011]
Figs. 42-47. Mitotic events following irradiations. 42) Polyploid cell at anaphase showing multipolar
organization. 43) Multipolarity at anaphase. 44) Two condensed nearly identical sized micronuclei in resting
cell. 45) Condensed and uncondensed micronuclei. 46) Four unequal sized micronuclei. 47) Giant cell. Bar=15
µm. [Source: Cytologia 48, 1983; Cytologia 51, 1986; J. Plant Dev. Sci. 3(1), 2011]
Figs. 48-53. Meiotic consequences of irradiations at metaphase I. 48-49) 6II. 50-51) 3II+6I. 52) 2II+8I. 53)
6II+2 identical sized fragments. Bar=15 µm. [Source: J. Plant Dev. Sci. 3(1), 2011]
Figs. 54-59. Meiotic events at MI. 54)1IV (adjacent orientation) + 4II. 55) 1IV (alternate) + 3II+2I. 56) 1IV
(adjacent) + 4II. 57) 1IV (non-co oriented) + 4II. 58) Sticky configuration of chromosomes. 59) Fusion of two
PMCs. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 48, 1983; Cytologia 51, 1986]
Figs. 60-65. Meiotic configurations in irradiated samples at AI and AII. 60) 6-6 separation at AI. 61) Two
fragments at AI. 62) Dicentric chromatid bridge with an acentric fragment. 63) Double bridge formation at AI.
64)Two lagging chromosomes at AII. 65) A bridge with a fragment at AII. Bar=15 µm. [Figs. 26-65. Ref.:
Cytologia 48, 1983; Cytologia 51, 1986; J. Plant Developmet Sci. 3(1-2), 2011]
Figs. 66-67. Stem anomalies. 66) Bifurcation. 67) Twining nature. [Source: Cytologia 50, 1985]
Figs. 68-70. Stem abnormalities. 68) Trifurcation. 69) Twining. 70) Unbranched. [Source: Cytologia 50, 1985]
Figs. 71-78. 71) A normal flower. 72-78) Floral abnormalities. 72) Unequally dissected petaloid sepal. 73)
Shield shaped sepal. 74) Triforked sepal. 75) Elongated and strap shaped petal. 76) Presence of two gynoecium
in a same flower. 77) Small sized sepal in addition to the normal complement. 78) Incompletely forked bract
like structure. [Source: Cytologia 50, 1985]
Figs. 79-84. Control and mutants of N. sativa. 79) Normal plant. 80) Lax branching. 81) Prostrate. 82) Bushy I.
83) Bushy II. 84) Lax pinnae. [Source: Cytologia 50, 1985]
Fig. 85.Cup leaf mutant.
Fig. 86. Chloroxantha with normal plants in field condition. [Source: Ind. J. Genet. Pl. Breed. 61, 2001]
Figs. 87-90. Seed-coat color in N. sativa. 87) Black in normal. 88) Yellowish brown. 89) Dark reddish brown.
90) Bicolor.
Fig. 91. Telescopic mutant in N. sativa. [Source: Cytologia 51, 1986]
Figs. 92-97. Meiotic configurations at MI (92, 94-97) and diplotene (93) in translocation heterozygotes. 92) 6II.
93)1IV+4II. 94) 1IV (chain, alternate) + 4II. 95) 1IV (chain, adjacent) + 4II. 96) 1IV (chain, alternate) + 4II. 97)
1IV (ring, alternate) + 4II. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 67, 2002]
Figs. 98-103. Meiosis in translocate heterozygotes. 98 and 101) 1IV(ring, alternate) + 4II at MI. 99-100) 1IV
(ring, adjacent) + 4II at MI. 102) 5-7 separation of chromosomes at AI. 103) Dicentric chromatid bridge with an
acentric fragment at AI. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 51, 1986]
Figs. 104-112. Meiosis in synaptic mutants. 104-105) Early prophase I cells showing fuzzy chromosomes and
lack of pairing. 106-112) MI chromosome associations. 106) 6II. 107) 5II+2I. 108-109) 4II+4I. 110) 2II+8I.
111) 1II+10I. 112) 12I. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Plant Archives 2, 2002]
Figs. 113-116. Phenotype of male sterile mutants. 113) Mutants showing chlorophyll deficiency in pinnae of the
apical part. 114) Bushy. 115) Crumpled pinnae. 116) Chlorophyll deficiency. [Source: Plant Archives 1, 2001]
Figs. 117-122. Meiosis in a male sterile mutant (117-121). 117) 6II at MI. 118-119) 12I at MI. 120) AII with
unequal spory (near complete degeneration of one pole). 121) Degenaration of microspores. 122) Fully stained
round to oval shaped pollen grains in normal plants. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Plant Archives 2, 2002]
Figs. 123-130. Meiosis in male sterile mutants. 123-125) Agglutination of chromatin into unequal masses. 126
and 128) degenerative pollen grains. 127) Agglutinated pollen grains. 129) Small sized round unstained pollen
grains. 130) Fertile pollen grains in normal plants. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Plant Archives 2, 2002]
Figs. 131-134. Meiosis in a trisomic plant (2n= 13). 131-132) 6II+1I at MI. 133) 5II+ 1III at MI. 134) 9-7
separation of chromosomes at AI. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 49, 1984]
Figs. 135-137. Chromatin bridge (Fig. 136) and fusion of meiocytes (Figs. 135 and 137) in chromosome/
chromatin transfer. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia 49, 1984]
Figs. 138-145. 138) Aberrant plant showing lax branching nature and leaf deformity. 139-143. Meiosis in the
aberrant plant. 139) 2II+5I (2n=9) at MI. 140) 6II (2n=12) at MI. 141) 4II+3I (2n=11) at MI. 142) 1IV+4II+1I
(2n=13) at MI. 143) MI showing 12II (2n=24). 144-145. Pollen grains. 144) Stained and unstained small sized
pollen grains in the aberrant plant. 145) Normal stained pollen grains in control. Bar=15 µm. [Source: Cytologia
50, 1985]
Figs. 146-147. 146) Normal diploid. 147) Autotetraploid showing synchronous flowering. [Source: Indian J.
Genet. Plant Breed. 62, 2002]
Figs. 148-151. Meiotic configuration at MI and AI (151). 148) 6II in diploid. 149-151. Meiosis in
autotetraploid. 149) 1IV+9II+2I. 150) 2IV+4II+8I. 151) 8-16 separation of chromosomes. Bar=15 µm. [Source:
Indian J. Genet. Plant Breed. 62, 2002]
Figs.152-155. AI configurations in the autotetraploid. 152) 11-13 separation. 153) 11-13 separation associated
with a fragment. 154) Tripolarity along with a lagging chromosomes. 155) Multiple bridges with fragments.
Bar=15 µm.
Figs. 156-160. AI (156-158) and AII (159-160) configurations in autotetraploids. 156-157) Unequal (11-13)
separation of chromosomes. 158) Tripolarity with laggards. 159) Unequal spory. 160) Multiple spory. Bar=15
Figs. 161-166. Chromosome variations and abnormalities in callus tissue. 161) 2n=6. 162) 2n=24. 164-165)
Enhanced ploidy level. 166) Bridge formation with higher ploidy. 167) Five extremely variable chromatin
masses. Bar=15 µm.
Despite the major advancement of modern medicine in human health-care, it is still intangible and beyond reach
to ailing humanity, especially the destitutes. In recent years plant based systems has been utilized for traditional
medicine and phytotherapy. Medicinal plants are ‘Gift of Nature’ and N. sativa is one such plant with potential
uses which can be explored for safe and effective herbal medicine for human benefit. Cytogenetical studies also
revealed that the species can also be used as a model plant for better understanding of gene and chromosome
This monograph is dedicated to those individuals who believe in herbal medicine and also to researchers
working in the field of Cytogenetics.
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