In this issue
Indus writing is multilingual: ‘o’ from Indus text. The demographic instigating bumble-bees to move deep
a part-syllabic system at work details of the Dravidian and Aryan inside the labellum and the anther–
presence in Mohenjodaro and Harappa stigma column. Hence A. subulatum
Srinivasan et al. (page 147) have are also discerned from a sub-set of may be categorized as an obligate spe-
applied the information theory and en- Indus corpus. cialist as it recruits only the bumble-
tropy concept to decipher the Indus bee as the most effective pollinator,
script left behind by the Indus Valley Functional specialization in thereby giving evidence of pollination
Civilization. They mainly dwell upon Amomum subulatum syndrome.
the corpus on Indus writing brought
out by Iravatham Mahadevan (IM) for Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Characterization of
analysis and arrive at a conclusion that Roxb.) is one of the important spice inter-specific hybrids derived
the script underlying the writing sys- crops of north eastern Himalayan from Momordica species
tem belongs to part-syllabic and region of India. Its productive trait
abugida type. The scripts of all Indian (capsule) is the function of effective Momordica L. (Cucurbitaceae) com-
languages belong to part-syllabic sys- pollination carried out by bees. More- prises 60 species distributed chiefly in
tem of writing. The characteristic over pollination diversity, population Africa and Southeast Asia, of which
features of part-syllabic, namely the density, visitation frequency, and qua- seven species are distributed in India.
presence of initial-vowel and medial- lity and quantity of pollen that carries These species have a huge potential to
vowel signs are brought out from the to stigma are major biotic factors affect- be exploited as alternative crops not
Indus text. Ten medial-vowel signs ing pollination and fruit set in large only for their nutritive value, but also
identified that do not appear at the be- cardamom. Additionally, the role of for improving the livelihood of the
ginning position in words from Indus floral traits and rewards in recruiting tribal and poor farming communities.
text. Another corpus referred to by the pollinators and exhibition of functional A crossing programme involving seven
authors is available online and brought specialization are vital components for species of Momordica and two varie-
out by Bryan Wells. pollination. Kishore et al. (page 193) ties of Momordica charantia was un-
The Identical looking texts found report functional specialization in A. dertaken and 56 cross-combinations
from the two major metropolitan cities, subulatum in recruiting specific polli- were generated. Within the sect. Mo-
Mohenjodaro and Harappa reveal that nators and in exhibiting pollination mordica, high crossability and pollen
a common script was in practice and syndrome. Among diverse assemblages fertility was observed in the inter-
used to represent a multiplicity of lan- of animals only native bumble-bees varietal cross, whereas low crossability
guages. The authors could trace the (Bombus braviceps Smith and Bombus and moderate pollen fertility was ob-
origin of the ancient and modern haemorrhoidalis Smith) acted as effec- served in the inter-specific cross. No
Indian language scripts from Indus tive pollinators in terms of visitation crossability barriers were found within
writing. They believe that the short frequency, pollination efficiency, pol- the sect. Cochinchinensis, except for
text bearing seals were used for the lination potential index, pollen deliv- the combinations, viz. M. cochin-
purpose of propagating literacy among ery and fruit set, whereas Udapses chinensis × M. dioica and M. cochin-
people. A judicious grouping of one or folus and Macroglossum sp. acted as chinensis × M. sahyadrica. M. dioica
more of these medial-vowel signs to- nectar robbers and Apis cerena and and M. sahyadrica showed higher
gether with other signs representing Episyrphus balteatus were pollen- crossability with M. subangulata
consonants yield one-to-one corre- resource wasters. Moreover, native subsp. renigera (both directions) and
spondence with the consonant–vowel bumble-bees were the sole functional M. cochinchinensis (unidirectional).
sequence for the presence of Tamil, group that increased the plant’s fitness Cross between the sect. Momordica
Kannada, Telugu, Prakrit and Sanskrit by being the ‘most effective pollina- and Cochinchinensis yielded partheno-
like orthographic features. The genesis tors’. There was a clear indication that carpic fruits. M. cymbalaria (sect.
of Brahmi and Kharosthi script is also except bumble-bees, no visitor con- Raphanocarpus) was neither crossable
traced from Indus text. tributed differentially to the selective with sect. Momordica nor sect.
The conjunct consonants made up of pressure exerted via the reproductive Cochinchinensis. Based on cross-
more than one consonant also occur in success of the plant. Moreover, floral ability, a closer relationship was found
Indus text. A comparison with the actual traits respond differentially to selective between two varieties of bitter melon
number of consonant–vowel combina- pressure and contribute more towards (var. charantia and var. muricata) and
tion in Kannada agrees with the num- functional specialization and in turn also between M. charantia and M. bal-
ber of unique signs that precede with pollination syndrome. Medium tongue samina. All dioecious species included
the medial-vowel sign in Indus text. length and proficient nectar-foraging in this study appear to be closely re-
An indication of script reformation that behaviour made bumble-bees the most lated. The results sustain the recent
took place in Harappan province is effective pollen vectors. Whereas low taxonomic classification of the genus
also revealed. The semblance to the secretion rate of nectar during morning and present evidence on species rela-
Dravidian languages is ascertained by hours could be the strategy of plants to tionships within the genus Momordica.
identifying the short vowels for ‘e’ and bring about pollination effectively by See page 178.
122 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012