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Photography: Biology Student

Photography: Courtesy Sebastián Herrera Marulanda

200 million years ago, in the Mesozoic period, when the first human being on earth was still delayed and the world was dominated by fascinating dinosaurs, a group of ancestral plants reigned among the vegetation that still have representatives in contemporary times: the Cycadas.

This group of plants, which survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, includes the Zamias, a genus of these plants that has 81 species registered in the American continent of which 24 are in Colombia and 17 are endemic, indicating that only they can be found in the territory of the country.

One of these species, the Zamia Melanorrhachis, is being investigated by Sebastián Herrera Marulanda, a student of the Biology program of the Faculty of Sciences and Biotechnology of the CES University, who seeks with his studies to sow and control the growth of this plant in a monitored environment where factors such as temperature are regulated , vitamins and minerals that help its proper growth and disinfectant agents that protect it from possible pests.

My research, which is also my graduate work, seeks to reproduce this species with in vitro techniques, that is, to collect plant material from this plant and bring it to controlled conditions where we can regulate the soil pH, temperature, supplements (vitamins and minerals) and have them stored in a growth chamber, with the hope that they will be reintroduced into natural populations as an alternative for their conservation”Explained the eighth-semester biology student.

According to the Colombian Society of Cycadas, an organization focused on the conservation of these plants, most of the Zamias species found in Colombia are classified at levels of danger that threaten their ancestral stay on earth. This mainly due to factors such as deforestation, improper use of soils and illegal trade, since they are often used for ornamentation.

Regarding the methodology to carry out his research, Sebastián indicated that he hopes at the beginning of the year 2021 to be able to bring some seeds from the Cuba farm, a company in agreement with the CES University located in the municipality of Montelíbano, Córdoba, which has Zamia species registered within its territory.

After collecting them, they would be taken by the University's Plant Biotechnology Unit (UBI) and the process for their controlled growth would begin there, which hopes to have its first results in the middle of that same year.

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