Opuntia and Other Cacti: Applications and Biotechnological Insights
The cactus family is unusual among tropical plants. Cacti, known for their minimum water requirement, have been grown extensively in arid lands, for food, feeds and medicinal and therapeutic uses.Several food products have cacti as a main ingredient. Cacti biochemical analysis substantiate the high nutritive value of this plant family. Tissue cultures, including micropropagation, callus, and cell suspension cultures have been established for numerous cacti species. Genetic engineering has opened opportunities for gene isolation and integration of genes from other sources for cacti improvement. Cacti might be a store house of stress tolerant genes for other crops. Since cacti can be cultivated easily with minimum agriculture inputs, they hold great potential for cultivation and farming on degraded lands and for at least partial remediation of degraded lands. The present review outlines some of the older and more recent research on the properties and applications for Opuntia and other cacti especially as they might apply towards agricultural sustainability.