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Importance of the Diversity within the Halophytes to Agriculture and Land Management in Arid and Semiarid Countries

  • Hans-Werner Koyro
  • Helmut Lieth
  • Bilquees Gul
  • Raziuddin Ansari
  • Bernhard Huchzermeyer
  • Zainul Abideen
  • Tabassum Hussain
  • M. Ajmal Khan
Chapter
Part of the Tasks for Vegetation Science book series (TAVS, volume 47)

Abstract

Freshwater resources will become limited in near future and it is necessary to develop sustainable biological production systems, which can tolerate hyper-osmotic and hyper-ionic salinity. Plants growing in saline conditions primarily have to cope with osmotic stress followed by specific ion effects, their toxicities, ion disequilibrium and related ramifications such as oxidative burst. This is an exclusion criterion for the majority of our common crops. In order to survive under such conditions, suitable adjustments are necessary. Beside the control of the entrance on root level, the ability to secrete ions (excreter) or to dilute ions (succulents) helps to preserve a vital ion balance inside the tissues.

Sadly, traditional approaches of breeding crop plants with improved abiotic stress resistance have met limited success so far. Failures were due to two problem areas, lack of easy to detect traits and too many genes that had to be transferred at a time. These arguments underline the advantage of utilizing suited halophytes as crops on saline lands and to improve their individual crop potential. Because of their diversity, halophytes have been regarded as a rich source of potential germplasm. A variety of halophytic plant species already has been utilized as nonconventional cash-crops. Lieth H, Mochtchenko M (Cash crop halophytes: recent studies. Tasks for vegetation science, vol 38. Kluwer, Dordrecht, 2003) described the utilization of halophytic species for the improvement of sustainable agriculture as well as sources of income.

However, knowing that saline irrigation always comprises the risk of increasing salinity up to levels where no plants (even no halophytes) can exist anymore, it is important to achieve sustainable conditions. Therefore it is essential to study the interaction among soil salinity, individual species (to study heterogeneity within the halophytes and plant diversity), biotic interactions, and atmosphere at distinct conditions before application.

The heterogeneity within halophytes (biotic factor) is often ignored but biotic interactions can be in this context an ideal accessory to stabilize sustainable populations on saline lands. The aspect, that dicotyledonous halophytes, when grown in saline soils, generally accumulate more NaCl in shoot tissues than monocotyledonous halophytes (especially grasses) has several consequences on their suitability as crops and their culture conditions (procedure to apply salinity). The implementation of an intercropping system (halophyte culture) is such a way to use saline land and brackish water for producing an economically viable and environmentally sound agriculture. It was estimated that 15 % of undeveloped land in the world’s coastal and inland salt deserts could be suitable for growing crops using saltwater agriculture. This amounts to 130 million hectares of new cropland that could be brought into human or animal food production chain - without cutting down forests or consuming more scarce freshwater for irrigation.

Keywords

Salt Stress Salt Marsh Salt Resistance Turf Grass Saline Land 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Werner Koyro
    • 1
  • Helmut Lieth
    • 2
  • Bilquees Gul
    • 3
  • Raziuddin Ansari
    • 4
  • Bernhard Huchzermeyer
    • 5
  • Zainul Abideen
    • 4
  • Tabassum Hussain
    • 4
  • M. Ajmal Khan
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Plant EcologyJustus-Liebig University GießenGießenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Systems Research (USF)University of OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization (ISHU)University of KarachiKarachiPakistan
  4. 4.Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization (ISHU)University of KarachiKarachiPakistan
  5. 5.Institute of BotanyLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany

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