In several crop breeding programs, high selection pressure has been applied since its domestication which resulted in narrowing in the genetic variability. Therefore, obtaining new crop cultivars has become a difficult task for breeders. Development of strategies to increase the genetic variability has now become the prime area of research in crop breeding for several research groups. Mutation breeding is able to create lot of genetic diversity in the crops naturally as well as through induced mutagenesis. Mutation breeding is an important tool in plant breeding which has proven highly successful in improving crop varieties globally to feed an ever increasing and nutritionally demanding human population. Moreover, it has the advantage of improving a defective, but an elite cultivar, for a single trait without significantly affecting its acceptable phenotype. Till date, induced mutagenesis has been used in several crops including cereals, pulses, flowering plant, medicinal and aromatic plants for their many physical and biochemical trait improvement. Several physical and chemical mutagens like ethyl methane sulfonate, X-rays, or γ-rays have proven their importance in plant mutation breeding. After mutagenesis, selected superior mutants are recommended for large-scale production or further breeding in similar or different environments. Mutation breeding has been successfully applied in release of nearly 3,000 plant varieties especially in cereals, pulses, and flower and has a limited role in improvement of medicinal and aromatic plants. This review discusses the prospective effects of induced mutation in many medicinal and aromatic plants using different mutagens for their improvement in both quantitative and qualitative traits.
Key words: Mutagenesis, medicinal plants, mutagens, plant breeding, EMS, γ-rays