Photo credit: CGIAR
New book on fruits and seeds preservation of desert plants in Central Asia
by Sherzod Shoasilov
Central Asia is an arid to semi-arid region with more than half of its territory covered by deserts, grasslands, and shrublands with sparse vegetation. In this context, the desert and semi-desert plant communities represent a valuable reserve of fodder, forage, medicinal and edible plants. Among them, halophytes (‘salt loving plants’) can be used as a tool for desalination and restoration of salt affected lands. For example, they could be used to ameliorate saline soil, to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems, or be cultivated on a commercial scale for specific end uses. By developing such strategies, unused or marginal lands can be brought under cultivation, and existing agricultural lands made more productive, which will open a new door to sustainable crop production.
The fruits and seeds (germplasm) are vessels for these species’ genome, and preserving them is essential in a stressed desert environment that is more susceptible to climate change, desertification and land degradation. Given the right conditions, disappearing species can be preserved for future generations through seed banks. Therefore, good knowledge of fruit morphology, germplasm conservation and seed germination techniques is necessary for creating seed conservation and production schemes for salt, drought, and heat-tolerant plants. Their use in saline land reclamation requires information on salt tolerance of mature plants, seeds and seedlings, and knowledge of their germination strategies under saline environments.
However, there are few publications on the biology and ecology of seeds and fruit morphology of desert flowering plants in Central Asia, making it difficult to plan their use in restoration and land improvement programs.
Read the full article: CGIAR