Vetiver Identification Program
Identification Program was a research plan for investigating the
diversity of vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash;
synonym = Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty). DNA
fingerprinting has shown that most hedge vetivers in most countries are
genetically identical. These are superb for field application anywhere
that vetiver will grow. See below for information
on activities and research papers,
including a 1998 summary article
from Diversity Magazine and detailed
DNA analyses for individual clones submitted by Vetiver Network
members during our first rounds of testing.
unaffiliated with TVNI
have since concluded that this germplasm is noninvasive and
well-behaved, most recently (2007) a rigorous and comprehensive
Risk Assessment was performed by the trans-Pacific collaboration
“Pacific Island Ecosystems
at Risk (PIER)” program of the Hawaiian Ecosystems
at Risk (HEAR) project. Any plant with a score
of +1 or less is considered suitable for introduction to new
environments; vetiver scored -8,
the minimum assignable score! This "green light"
reaffirms that the Sunshine type of vetiver prevalent throughout the
can be used with confidence, and without the need for additional plant
introductions with their attendant
Summary of Results
shows that most hedge vetivers in most countries seem to be a
nonfertile clone. In our first international survey (1996-1998),
of 60 samples from 29 countries outside South Asia
proved to be genetically almost identical, traditional germplasm. This
nonfertile, heritage clone, called 'Sunshine' in the United States,
throughout the tropics long ago, and is well-known to growers and
Subsequent analyses (n >150) have reinforced this finding, have
additional nonfertile diversity, and have shown there is a clear
distinction between these vetivers and the wild, seedy Khus type of
native to the Ganges region of India.
If you are interested in vetiver's genetic diversity, you might want
start with this short 1998
summary article, "Lessons in
Diversity" , from Diversity magazine.
If you are curious about vetiver because it is not native to your
great deal of background information is offered in a 1996
presentation, "Know Your Hedge Vetiver", from the First
International Vetiver Conference. The
traditional cultivated vetivers have never shown seediness or
everything we have learned in the ten years since then only confirms
Based on the
results of the "Vetiver Identification Program", numerous groups are
now performing regional and national research on local vetiver
diversity and adaptability. This is particularly true in South Asia
(especially India), vetiver's region of diversity. Because this
research is tied into the global DNA findings of this program, their
results will also serve to inform vetiver use throughout the tropics.
In addition, both Dr.
Adams and a consortium of Italian researchers are delving more deeply
into the symbiotic relationships of vetiver genotypes with mycorrhiza,
especially as it relates to the quantitative and qualitative production
of secondary metabolites that nuture and protect the plant, as well as
produce it's famous essential oil, "Oil of Vetiver". Although
preliminary and not yet published in peer-review journals, it appears
that, rather than a single endophytic cyanobacteria, vetiver health and
adaptability is dependent on a broader spectrum of the multitude of
microbial organisms that live around and within the root system of
vetiver ... this exciting research is of general interest in plant
physiology, and results will be noted here as they become available.
Adams' DNA fingerprinting had
uncovered that almost all vetivers outside southern Asia were the
clonal, nonfertile types, confidence was established for the
pantropical use of local vetiver grass "ecotypes" so long as they
showed the traits of the Sunshine Group of vetiver genotypes. Numerous
groups unaffiliated with TVNI have since concluded that this germplasm
is noninvasive and well-behaved, most recently, rigorously, and
comprehensively an independent Vetiver
Risk Assessment was performed by the trans-Pacific
collaboration “Pacific Island Ecosystems
at Risk (PIER)”
program of the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project.
Vetiver has been cleansed
of all associative fungi and bacteria, and grown out to maturity.
Surprisingly, very little oil was produced, and it was qualitatively
distinct from "Oil of Vetiver". The results hint that, all along,
vetiver grass has not produced vetiver oil but, rather, has merely
served as a nurturing home for cyanobacteria residing in oil vacuoles
in the roots. While in the short term this probably doesn't
affect vetiver users, it does provide an insight into potential
pathways for secondary metabolite creation in grasses, the most
important family of plants. In the long run, it may lead to
greater understanding of vetiver's profound resistance to pests and
plagues, as well as development of novel types of farmer-friendly
Adams, R.P., M. Habte, S. Park, and M.R.
Dafforn. 2004. Preliminary
comparison of vetiver root essential oils from cleansed (bacteria- and
fungus-free) versus non-cleansed (normal) vetiver plants.
Biochemical Systematics and Ecology32(2004):1137-1144.
trials" of select germplasm on several continents, with preliminary
results presented in the 2003 paper, "Vetiver DNA-Fingerprinted Cultivars: Effects
of Environment on Growth, Oil Yields and Composition";
though some differences were found in environmental response, the
different genotypes were not sufficiently different to encourage anyone
to use anything except the material they have in-hand. The
would not be significant, and the potential for unwittingly
transporting pests or plagues too great.
Adams, R.P., R.N. Pandey, M.R. Dafforn, and
James. 2003. Vetiver
DNA-Fingerprinted Cultivars: Effects
of Environment on Growth, Oil Yields and Composition.
Journal of Essential Oil Research 15
Also see Bob Adams' paper presented in China
in 2003, "DNA Analysis of the Genetic Diversity of
Vetiver And Future Selections for Use in Erosion Control".
This 2000 lecture (published in 2002)
Vetiver: A Genetic and Intellectual Heritage", outlines a basis for
public "ownership" of vetiver germplasm ... like wheat or
today's materials were created long-ago, by whom we do not know.
is no legal (or ethical) basis for anyone to make a proprietary claim
to control its use (and we have the DNA profiles to prove it).
Dafforn, M.R. 2002.
Hedge Vetiver: A Genetic and Intellectual Heritage.
Pp. 361-371 in Proceedings of the Second
International Conference on Vetiver: Vetiver and the Environment. Office of the Royal Development Projects
of the research results up to this time were incorporated into a comprehensive
overview of the genus by CRC
M., ed. 2002. Vetiveria: The Genus Vetiveria
(Medicinal & Aromatic
Plants-Industrial Profiles. Taylor & Francis (CRC Press),
London & New York. 191 pp.
Taxonomy: "A revision of Chrysopogon
Trin. including Vetiveria Bory ..." (Word .doc
format) (commentary) by Dr. JeF
Veldkamp has been
peer-reviewed and published in Austrobaileya
5 (1999): 503-533 (140KB html file posted with permissions). The published
scientific name for the species of vetiver grass used in soil
and water conservation is now Chrysopogon
The paper also includes identification
keys for Thailand and Malesia. Dr. Veldkamp is a classical
taxonomist and editor of grasses for the Flora Malesiana (a
long-term project begun by Cornelis Steenis in the 1940s) at the Rijksherbarium at Leiden
University in the Netherlands. Vetiver has a new
botanical name: Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty. It
is no longer the 20th Century's Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash
(1903-1999) or even the long-traditional Andropogon muricatus
Retz. (1783-1903). As the author noted, Vetiveria zizanioides
"...doubtlessly will continue to be widely used with the usual
complaints about taxonomists always changing names. Unfortunately,
science means progress, and progress means changes....". Revising
scientific names is not done lightly: improving our understanding of
evolutionary relationships is serious science. See for yourself in taxonomist J.F.
Veldkamp's 30-page peer-reviewed article (posted
with permission of the publisher and author) justifying a change of
genus Vetiveria to genus Chrysopogon (the boundaries of the species V. zizanioides
itself are unchanged). Dr. Veldkamp has done vetiver users a notable
service by providing vetiver grass a modern phylogeny ... how it
relates to other species.
There was a Call for Samples
for participants in the Second
International Conference on Vetiver
in Thailand in January. Over 50 different vetiver leaf samples were
submitted by participants at the Conference for DNA "fingerprinting",
and results have been disseminated to participants..
A summary of
research findings (Word .doc format) was published in 1998 in Diversity
13(4):27-28 (posted with permission). It provides a general overview of
results so far, and suggests future research directions.
analysis of DNA research findings examining the
species and genus was published by Dr. R.P.
Adams, et al. in Molecular
(491KB .pdf file posted with
permissions) as "DNA
fingerprinting reveals clonal nature of Vetiveria zizanioides
(L.) Nash, Gramineae and sources of potential new germplasm". This
paper clearly delineates among nonfertile and fertile V. zizanioides
as well as separating it from related species and genera. A degree of
among several nonfertile genotypes is documented. This peer-reviewed
paper also notes that "[t]he fact that [the] two Chrysopogon
species [C. fulvus and C. gryllus] are each more similar
to Vetiveria taxa than to each other indicates that some
taxonomic revision is warranted between Chrysopogon and Vetiveria."
from Adams, et al., including genetic clustering by vetiver specimen
accession number, are presented in a 1997 report to The Vetiver
Network. If you submitted useable DNA samples in 1996-97, your
results are in this article. This article was updated with a postscript
and published as:
Based on over a hundred samples provided by vetiver users around the
world, initial DNA-fingerprinting results and tentative conclusions
were described in
Adams, R.P. and Dafforn, M.R.
DNA Fingerprints of the Pantropical Grass
2(4)(Apr. 1999): 173-180. Assumption
University Journal of Technology, Hua Mak, Bangkok.
A paper entitled Know Your Hedge
Vetiver: Environmental Concerns About Vetiveria zizanioides,
presented by Mark Dafforn
at the First International Conference on Vetiver in Chiang Rai,
Thailand, outlines current knowledge of vetiver reproduction as well as
susceptibility to pests and plagues and other related information. This
paper also highlights the importance of learning more about vetiver
diversity, and outlines a "Vetiver Identification Program". Vetiver
samples were solicited from conference participants and other members
of The Vetiver Network.
Dr. R.P. Adams,
Director of the Plant Biotechnology Center at Baylor University in
Texas, offers to perform DNA fingerprinting for The Vetiver Network.
A series of DNA tests on vetiver was performed by Pattana Srifah,
et al. of Kasetsart University in Thailand. Their goal was to develop
RAPD classification and identification of vetiver "ecotypes" collected
from different areas of Thailand. Their results, presented at the First
International Conference on Vetiver (Srifah, P., N. Sangduen, and V.
Ruanjaichon. 1998. The use of random amplified polymorphic DNA for
classification of Vetiveria spp. in Thailand. Pp. 141-146 in N.
Chomchalow and H.V. Henle, eds., Proc. First International
Conference on Vetiver.
Chiang Rai, Thailand, Feb. 4-8, 1996. Office of the Royal Developments
Project Board, Bangkok.), showed that RAPDs are a "simple, quick, and
reliable alternative to identify 9 Vetiveria grass ecotypes"
from various sites in Thailand. The broad diversity uncovered by this
research is encouraging for future explorers in other regions!
The first vetiver DNA analysis was undertaken by Steve
et al. while he was at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Results in
1993 (published as Kresovich, S., W.F. Lamboy, R. Li, J. Ren, A.K.
Szewc-McFadden, and S.M. Bliek. 1994. Application of molecular methods
and statistical analyses for discrimination of accessions and clones of
vetiver grass. Crop Science 34:805-809) showed that three
essential-oil types from different localities are genetically almost
while all three were clearly distinct from wild, uncultivated North
India types of vetiver. (A major section of Dr. Kresovich's paper also
easily different genotypes grown in the same greenhouse can become
How to Contact the Vetiver Identification Program and the
you want more information or have questions, comments, corrections,
suggestions, or feedback, please contact:
If you have questions
about finding or using vetiver grass, or the Vetiver Network itself,
Network is a
non profit and tax exempt organization, managed by professionals, with
objective of disseminating information on the use of VETIVER GRASS for
water conservation, land rehabilitation, embankment stabilization and
You can learn an enormous amount about other research and about
using vetiver in field agriculture, environmental remediation, and
civil engineering by exploring the Vetiver Network Home Page.
Vetiver Network Home Page
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