International Center for Biosaline Agriculture

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

International Center for Biosaline Agriculture

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Ammar K.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture | McKee M.,Utah State University | Kaluarachchi J.,Utah State University
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management | Year: 2010

A new methodology is developed to analyze existing monitoring networks. This methodology incorporates different aspects of monitoring, including vulnerability/probability assessment, environmental health risk, the value of information, and redundancy reduction. A conceptual framework for groundwater quality monitoring is formulated to represent the methodology's context. Relevance vector machine (RVM) plays a basic role in this conceptual framework, and is employed to reduce redundancy and to create probability map of contaminant distribution, and accordingly to estimate the expected value of sample information. Disability adjusted life years approach of the global burden of disease is used for quantifying the health risk consequences. This is demonstrated through a case study application to nitrate contamination monitoring in the West Bank, Palestine. The results obtained from the RVM analysis showed that an overlap error of less than 30% were obtained based on using around 30% of the monitoring sites (170 relevance vectors). This reflects the importance of the RVM as a useful model for improving the efficiency of monitoring systems, both in terms of reducing redundancy and increasing the information content of the collected data. However, in this application, the results of health risk assessment and the evaluation of monitoring investments were less encouraging due to the minimal elasticity of the nitrate health effect with respect to monitoring information and uncertainty. © 2011 ASCE.


Ben Amar S.,University of Sfax | Ben Amar S.,CNRS Biochemistry and Plant Molecular Physiology Laboratory | Brini F.,University of Sfax | Sentenac H.,CNRS Biochemistry and Plant Molecular Physiology Laboratory | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2014

Plant tolerance to salinity constraint involves complex and integrated functions including control of Na+ uptake, translocation, and compartmentalization. Several members of the high-affinity K+ transporter (HKT) family, which comprises plasma-membrane transporters permeable to K+ and Na+ or to Na+ only, have been shown to play major roles in plant Na+ and K+ homeostasis. Among them, HKT1;4 has been identified as corresponding to a quantitative trait locus (QTL) of salt tolerance in wheat but was not functionally characterized. Here, we isolated two HKT1;4-type cDNAs from a salt-tolerant durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. subsp. durum) cultivar, Om Rabia3, and investigated the functional properties of the encoded transporters using a two-electrode voltage-clamp technique, after expression in Xenopus oocytes. Both transporters displayed high selectivity for Na+, their permeability to other monovalent cations (K+, Li+, Cs+, and Rb+) being ten times lower than that to Na+. Both TdHKT1;4-1 and TdHKT1;4-2 transported Na+ with low affinity, although the half-saturation of the conductance was observed at a Na+ concentration four times lower in TdHKT1;4-1 than in TdHKT1;4-2. External K+ did not inhibit Na + transport through these transporters. Quinine slightly inhibited TdHKT1;4-2 but not TdHKT1;4-1. Overall, these data identified TdHKT1;4 transporters as new Na+-selective transporters within the HKT family, displaying their own functional features. Furthermore, they showed that important differences in affinity exist among durum wheat HKT1;4 transporters. This suggests that the salt tolerance QTL involving HKT1;4 may be at least in part explained by functional variability among wheat HKT1;4-type transporters. © 2013 The Author.


Kameswara Rao N.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution | Year: 2013

The crop wild relatives constitute an important resource for improving agricultural production. An analysis of the floras from the Arabian Peninsula shows that there are over 400 wild relatives of some 70 food and forage crops. Because of their natural adaptation to the harsh environmental conditions, these species are expected to be extremely important sources of genes for the crop improvement programs targeting climate change and thus of potential value for global agriculture. However, these resources are under severe stress from both natural and anthropogenic factors. Considering that efforts for plant genetic resources conservation in the Arabian Peninsula are still meager, there is an urgent need to collect and conserve the crop wild relatives present in the region. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


El Battay A.,Gulf University | Mahmoudi H.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science | Year: 2016

The soils of the GCC countries are dominantly sandy which is typical of arid regions such as the Arabian Peninsula. Such soils are low in nutrients and have a poor water holding capacity associated with a high infiltration rate. Soil amendments may rehabilitate these soils by restoring essential soil properties and hence enable site revegetation and revitalization for crop production, especially in a region where food security is a priority. In this study, two inorganic amendments; AustraHort and Zeoplant pellet, and one organic locally produced compost were tested as soil amendments at the experimental field of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai, UAE. The main objective is to assess the remote sensing ability to monitor crop growth, for instance Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), having these amendments, as background with the soil. Three biomass spectral vegetation indices were used namely; NDVI, TDVI and SAVI. Pure spectral signatures of the soil and the three amendments were collected, using a field spectroradiometer, in addition to the spectral signatures of Okra in two growing stages (vegetative and flowering) in the field with a mixed F.O.V of the plant and amended soil during March and May 2015. The spectral signatures were all collected using the FieldSpec® HandHeld 2 (HH2) in the spectral range 325 nm - 1075 nm over 12 plots. A set of 4 plots were assigned for each of the three amendments as follow: three replicates of a 1.5 by 1.5 meter plot with 3kg/m2 of each amendment and 54 plants, one plot as control and all plots were given irrigation treatments at 100% based on ETc. Spectra collected over the plots were inversed in the range of 400-900 nm via a Linear Mixture Model using pure soil and amendments spectral signatures as reference. Field pictures were used to determine the vegetation fraction (in term of area of the F.O.V). Hence, the Okra spectral signatures were isolated for all plots with the three types of amendments. The three vegetation indices were then calculated and compared in the vegetation fraction of the entire F.O.V. The key outcome of this analysis was that a considerable bias was induced when using a mixed F.O.V. In fact, the compost as an organic soil amendment containing dead vegetation affects similarly the sensitivity of the three vegetation indices in the vegetative stage of Okra compared to AustraHort and Zeoplant pellet amended plots. However, the TDVI is very sensitive to vegetation presence even with unmixed crop spectra. AustraHort amendment led to better status of Okra both in March and May with values of 0.19 and 0.28 respectively. Bias induced by some soil amendments can be misleading when upscaling spectral information to satellite imagery with low spectral and spatial resolutions. The results obtained are encouraging for further use of spectral information for crop monitoring in soil containing amendments.


Rao N.K.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture | Shahid M.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Journal of Applied Horticulture | Year: 2011

The performance of Gaillardia aristata Pursh, irrigated with saline water was studied with the objective to identify herbaceous ornamentals for saline landscapes. Seeds were sown directly into field plots of sandy soil and irrigated with saline water at electrical conductivity (EC W) of 2 (control), 5, 10 and 15 dSm -1. Increase in salinity reduced the plant stand by 38% at 5 dSm -1, 50% at 10 dSm -1 and 67% at 15 dSm -1, in comparison with the control. Increased salinity also decreased the mean height, number of branches and dry weight of the plants, but the differences among treatments lower than 15 dSm -1 salinity were statistically insignificant (P≥0.05). Compared with the control, the number of flowers per plant declined by 57% at 5 dSm -1, 61% at 10 dSm -1 and 67% at 15 dSm -1. The differences in flower production among 5, 10 and 15 dSm -1 treatments were not significant (P>0.05). The flower diameter was significantly reduced at 15 dSm -1, but was not affected at the lower salinities. The results show that G. aristata could be successfully cultivated upto irrigation water salinity level 10 dSm -1 in sandy soils.


Al-Dakheel A.J.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture | Iftikhar Hussain M.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Frontiers in Plant Science | Year: 2016

Scarcity of irrigation water and increasing soil salinization has threatened the sustainability of forage production in arid and semi-arid region around the globe. Introduction of salt-tolerant perennial species is a promising alternative to overcome forage deficit to meet future livestock needs in salt-affected areas. This study presents the results of a salinity tolerance screening trial which was carried out in plastic pots buried in the open field for 160 buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.) accessions for three consecutive years (2003-2005). The plastic pots were filled with sand, organic, and peat moss mix and were irrigated with four different quality water (EC 0, 10, 15, and 20 dS m−1). The results indicate that the average annual dry weights (DW) were in the range from 122.5 to 148.9 g/pot in control; 96.4-133.8 g/pot at 10 dS m−1; 65.6-80.4 g/pot at 15 dS m−1, and 55.4-65.6 g/pot at 20 dS m−1. The highest DW (148.9 g/pot) was found with accession 49 and the lowest with accession 23. Principle component analysis shows that PC-1 contributed 81.8% of the total variability, while PC-2 depicted 11.7% of the total variation among C. ciliaris accessions for DW. Hierarchical cluster analysis revealed that a number of accessions collected from diverse regions could be grouped into a single cluster. Accessions 3, 133, 159, 30, 23, 142, 141, 95, 49, 129, 124, and 127 were stable, salt tolerant, and produced good dry biomass yield. These accessions demonstrate sufficient salinity tolerance potential for promotion in marginal lands to enhance farm productivity and reduce rural poverty. © 2016 Al-Dakheel and Hussain.


Hussain M.I.,University of Vigo | Hussain M.I.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture | Reigosa M.J.,University of Vigo
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Artemisinin, a potent antimalarial drug, is phytotoxic to many crops and weeds. The effects of artemisinin on stress markers, including fluorescence parameters, photosystem II photochemistry, photon energy dissipation, lipid peroxidation, reactive oxygen species generation and carbon isotope discrimination in Arabidopsis thaliana were studied. Arabidopsis ecotype Columbia (Col-0) seedlings were grown in perlite and watered with 50%Hoagland nutrient solution. Adult plants of Arabidopsis were treated with artemisinin at 0, 40, 80, 160 μM for one week. Artemisinin, in the range 40-160 μM, decreased the fresh biomass, chl a, b and leafmineral contents. Photosynthetic efficiency, yield and electron transport rate in Arabidopsis were also reduced following exposure to 80 and 160 μM artemisinin. The NPQ and NPQ were less than control. Artemisinin treatment caused an increase in root oxidizability and lipid peroxidation (MDA contents) of Arabidopsis. Calcium and nitrogen contents decreased after 80 and 160 μM artemisinin treatment compared to control. δ13C values were less negative following treatment with artemisinin as compared to the control. Artemisinin also decreased leaf protein contents in Arabidopsis. Taken together, these data suggest that artemisinin inhibits many physiological and biochemical processes in Arabidopsis. © 2015 Hussain Reigosa.


Inayatullah S.,Tamkang University | Elouafi I.A.,International Center for Biosaline Agriculture
Foresight | Year: 2014

Purpose–The purpose of this paper is to present findings, based on a report for the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), of the preferred visions, scenarios and strategies of stakeholders articulated at a workshop held in Dubai from November 25 to 26, 2012.Design/methodology/approach–The “six pillars” approach to foresight was used to articulate visions of preferred futures of over 50 international stakeholders, including representatives from the UAE Government, national and international donors, the private sector and leading scientists from universities and international scientific institutions. These visions were then translated into a strategic and business plan for ICBA.Findings–The research center was successfully able to use foresight methods to develop a long-term strategic plan, continuing its history of innovation in knowledge-based research relating to saline and marginal environments. Novel visions and strategies for water and food futures were developed. A risk assessment of each vision was conducted.Research limitations/implications–This case study presents visions with scenarios and strategic pathways. It illustrates the utility in setting long-term visions first and then linking with strategic plans. Limitations include that the success of such a venture cannot be judged for at least five to six years. While in the short run, resources – human, partnerships, capital and leadership – have been mobilized, it is too soon to gauge real success of the foresight workshop, project.Practical implications–The study shows links between visions, scenarios and strategic pathways. Social implications–The study includes valuable discussions by leading scientists of water and food futures as well as the organizational and leadership capabilities required to deliver alternative futures.Originality/value–One of the few workshop-oriented interventions in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) region using the anticipatory action learning six pillars framework is included. The study contrasts normal expert-based conferencing in the MENA region. © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.


News Article | November 3, 2016
Site: www.PR.com

Addressing accurate and next-generation weather forecasting and climate-change measurement technologies and services. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 03, 2016 --( Dubai Municipality, Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Fujairah International Airport, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, and The Civil Aviation Department -Sharjah attended WeatherTech GCC. It featured many exciting presentations among which we can mention: “Linking strategy, policy and climate change modelling to create an adaptive strategy for mitigation of current and future climate risk” by Dr. Tarek Sadek from the United Nations, “Supporting collaboration between the public and private sector in the GCC” by Ehab Alshurafa from ArabiaWeather Inc., “How cognitive technologies can help to make the right business decisions utilizing critical weather data” by Yesim Taslioglu from IBM, in addition to 3 panel discussions and 2 case studies. The response to this event was hugely positive as delegates and sponsors enjoyed a stellar line-up of speaker as well as the opportunities to network with the industry’s key decision makers. “Impressive, informatic, well managed event. This type of conference should be continued,” stated a Superintendent of Meteorology at Fujairah International Airport. “Rich of useful information. Very good conference,” said a Chemical Engineer at Fujairah Municipality. “Very good and informative event,” said a weather forecaster at Fujairah International Airport. WeatherTech GCC was held with the participation of Arabia Weather, The Weather Company – An IBM Business, JinYang, Leosphere, Earth Networks, OTT Hydromet, CAE, EWR, SMG, Wx Risk Global, and Bayanat. WeatherTech GCC – Day 2 (November 2) hosted speakers from Dubai Municipality, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), AECOM, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Earth Networks, and featured 4 case studies and 1 panel discussion. For more information about the conference, please visit www.weathertechgcc.com Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 03, 2016 --( PR.com )-- Advanced Conferences & Meetings is proud to launch the 2nd Annual WeatherTech GCC at The Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel, Abu Dhabi. This edition is addressing accurate and next-generation weather forecasting and climate-change measurement technologies and services.Dubai Municipality, Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Fujairah International Airport, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, and The Civil Aviation Department -Sharjah attended WeatherTech GCC. It featured many exciting presentations among which we can mention: “Linking strategy, policy and climate change modelling to create an adaptive strategy for mitigation of current and future climate risk” by Dr. Tarek Sadek from the United Nations, “Supporting collaboration between the public and private sector in the GCC” by Ehab Alshurafa from ArabiaWeather Inc., “How cognitive technologies can help to make the right business decisions utilizing critical weather data” by Yesim Taslioglu from IBM, in addition to 3 panel discussions and 2 case studies.The response to this event was hugely positive as delegates and sponsors enjoyed a stellar line-up of speaker as well as the opportunities to network with the industry’s key decision makers. “Impressive, informatic, well managed event. This type of conference should be continued,” stated a Superintendent of Meteorology at Fujairah International Airport. “Rich of useful information. Very good conference,” said a Chemical Engineer at Fujairah Municipality. “Very good and informative event,” said a weather forecaster at Fujairah International Airport.WeatherTech GCC was held with the participation of Arabia Weather, The Weather Company – An IBM Business, JinYang, Leosphere, Earth Networks, OTT Hydromet, CAE, EWR, SMG, Wx Risk Global, and Bayanat.WeatherTech GCC – Day 2 (November 2) hosted speakers from Dubai Municipality, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), AECOM, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Earth Networks, and featured 4 case studies and 1 panel discussion.For more information about the conference, please visit www.weathertechgcc.com Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Advanced Conferences & Meetings


News Article | December 6, 2016
Site: www.prnewswire.co.uk

Leaders, scientists and experts from around the world gathered today at one of the biggest international conferences dedicated to quinoa since 2013 was declared the International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations. More than 150 leaders, policymakers, scientists, experts and professionals from over 46 countries came together to discuss and share the latest developments in quinoa research, production and trade around the world, and develop a set of recommendations for quinoa cultivation in marginal environments which are affected by water scarcity and salinity. The global population is forecast to increase to 9.7 billion in 2050 and there are concerns about the capacity of agriculture to produce enough food for the growing population. By some estimates, food production will need to go up by about 60 percent either through an increase in crop yields per unit area or an expansion in the arable land by 2050 to meet the demand. Furthermore, several regions already suffering from malnutrition, water scarcity and soil degradation are forecast to have a large population growth, which raises concerns about whether traditional agricultural methods and crop species will have the capacity to sustain global food production targets. People living in marginal environments are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change on agriculture. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify solutions to sustaining and possibly increasing agricultural productivity in areas where growing traditional crops has become difficult and sometimes uneconomical. Quinoa is widely considered a promising crop that can contribute to addressing these challenges. Addressing participants at the opening ceremony, His Excellency Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, said: "Climate change poses one of the greatest threats to humanity. Countries that already suffer from droughts, water shortages, and salinity are at an even greater risk. We urgently need to find solutions and adapt and where possible mitigate effects of climate change on different fronts, including agriculture. Ensuring future food security in marginal environments requires a shift in agricultural practices and innovative approaches to crop production systems. Quinoa can play a major role as a staple crop in marginal environments due to its adaptability to harsh environments including poor saline soils with annual rainfall as little as 200 mm." In his statement, Professor Reyadh AlMehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University, said: "We are pleased to host this international conference at Zayed University. It is a timely event as the world faces the implications of grand environmental challenges, and many countries experience food and nutrition insecurity as well as impacts from climate change. We believe that the conference will be an excellent platform for scientists and experts to look at these challenges and come up with a shared vision on how crops like quinoa that grows in marginal land can help address them." An Oxfam study in 2009 showed that 45.9% of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and 25.3% in Asia live in marginal environments. According to FAO's 'The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015', 793 million people are undernourished globally. Despite the growing global recognition of quinoa's potential, and positive research outcomes in pilot studies in recent years, there are still many constraints and issues to be addressed before quinoa becomes a crop of choice in marginal areas where major crops have long been dominant but are progressively failing to withstand increasing salinity and lack of water. Speaking at the conference, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), said: "There has been considerable research on quinoa in recent years. Scientists at ICBA have also evaluated and tested the performance of several quinoa cultivars for their productivity when grown in marginal conditions. However, there are still many areas to be researched and improved as we introduce quinoa into agriculture in marginal environments, in order to make sure its introduction and production systems are beneficial to the communities and their ecosystems now and in the future." These challenges include, among others, limited availability of genetic material for cultivation outside the Andes, limited knowledge of best management practices - especially nutrient and water requirements, pest and disease control, harvesting and processing under marginal growing conditions, and lack of suitable marketing channels where smallholder farmers could sell their produce. Mr. Abdessalam Saleh Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, said: "The United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa and this gave a renewed impetus to efforts to study nutritional, economic, environmental and cultural value of this food. We hope that this conference will be a turning point in raising awareness on the potential of quinoa for food and nutrition security in marginal environments." Held under the title of 'Quinoa for Future Food and Nutrition Security in Marginal Environments' and running through December 8, the conference seeks to find ways to implement research and development programs and initiatives to introduce and scale up quinoa in marginal environments. The conference is also aimed at building partnerships between public and private institutions, research and development organizations, and serving as a platform for the transfer of the latest innovation and knowledge on quinoa. Held under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance of the UAE and President of Zayed University, the conference is organized by the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed University, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), and with the technical contribution of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) is an international, non-profit research-for-development organization that aims to strengthen agricultural productivity in marginal and saline environments through identifying, testing and facilitating access to sustainable solutions for food, nutrition and income security. Zayed University is a national and regional leader in educational innovation and change. It has created and implemented a skills-rich, outcome-based general education program that systemically develops student skills, knowledge, and values associated with liberal learning and provides a solid foundation for pursuit of disciplinary majors and future careers. Zayed University welcomes national and international students, and provides them with a high quality education, offered by seasoned teaching scholars to prepare them to shape the future of the United Arab Emirates. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Headquartered in Rome, Italy and operating in over 130 countries, it provides development assistance aimed at strengthening agriculture, forestry and fisheries, improving nutrition, and reducing poverty. FAO focuses special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry. About the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment was established in February 2006 as the Ministry of Environment and Water. The ministry acquired its new name following the UAE Cabinet reshuffle in February 2016 and the subsequent integration of the climate change function. Under its redefined scope, the ministry has taken on a dual mandate. On the national level, the ministry aims to strengthen the UAE's efforts in preserving the environment and promoting food diversity in accordance with the nation's aspiration to emerge as a key benchmark for sustainable development. On the global level, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will join international stakeholders in combating climate change and profile the UAE's path-breaking achievements in the sector at thought leadership platforms worldwide.

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