Nuruozak (Salvia leriifolia Benth), is a perennial herbaceous plant that is endemic to Iran and has recently been introduced as a medicinal plant. Artificial polyploidy is an efficient method to increase the production of secondary metabolites and can result in a whole spectrum of genetic, molecular and physiological modifications. In order to produce an autotetraploid population of nuruozak, various concentrations of colchicine (0.00, 0.05, 0.10, 0.20 or 0.50 % w/v) were applied to the seeds and shoot apical meristems of young seedlings at the fourth leaf-stage. Microscopic studies, flow cytometry analysis and chromosome counting were conducted to select tetraploid nuruozak plants. Furthermore, the effects of ploidy level on the essential oil content and composition and biomass production of nuruozak plants, as well as selected structural and physiological characteristics were studied. Based on the number of the obtained tetraploids, treatment of shoot apical meristems was more efficient than seed treatment. Structural and phytochemical characteristics, chlorophyll content and photosynthetic rate were affected by the increase in ploidy level. In addition to the higher potential in biomass production, tetraploid plants produced eight new compounds which were absent in diploids.
Keywords: Salvia leriifolia, colchicine, flow cytometry, tetraploidy