Concluding Remarks

Owing to its high morphological variability, the genus Artemisia is still under discussion with regard to its systematics and phylogeny. Even though the morphological taxonomic approach has often proved to be useful in subdividing Artemisia into subgenera and sections leading to systematic models which correlate well with phy-logenetic and paleobotanical studies, many problems still remain unresolved at the intrageneric, inter- and intra-specific level.

Today's use of chemical characteristics seems to be the most workable and natural taxonomic tool of investigation, having already been proven useful in many other instances. Furthermore, the impressive amount of therapeutic and pharmacological properties ascribed to Artemisia species, not only by their wide use in folk medicine but also as a result of biomedical research, prompts a world-wide chemical revision of this group of plants. Taking into account the great value of their chemical characteristics and related pharmacological activities, it is of primary importance to start research programmes utilising the great bulk of regional accounts on Artemisia species in order to search for valuable new varieties or chemotypes. From this viewpoint, a detailed study of the chemical properties of the genus with respect to the metabolic pathways of the biosynthesis of its more typical molecules is needed, not only for chemotaxonomic purposes, but also so that their industrial and therapeutic potential may be realised.

Cell genetics and the related tissue culture techniques, and notably those aimed at the genetic improvement of the genus, via protoplast hybridization or gene transformation are still limited in the family Asteraceae and should receive more attention in the future, especially as a result of the increasing importance of the antimalarial properties of A. annua.

In addition, we should not forget the great potential of the many species of Artemisia which have the ability to tolerate heat, drought and stress. These species may be suitable for use in regional agricultural renewal programmes (e.g. Artemisia spp. as aromatic alpine plants) as part of the environmental management of the arid regions of this planet.

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