Harnessing the biodiversity of Mediterranean plants for mitigating the effects of climate change and desertification

tree seedlings

The main objective of this project was to select plant material of the native tree species Populus euphratica, and to develop sustainable technologies for afforestation and carbon sequestration in arid regions. The genus Populus is largely used as a model for research on biology of tree species, and it is of economic interest for production of wood materials and bio-energy. To be able to identify suitable plant material, we studied the ecophysiological basis of natural populations of P. euphratica in Israel. This species is adapted to extreme conditions, mainly related to extreme temperatures and salinization of soils and water. In this project, we characterized trees for their tolerance to salt stress, and developed ecophysiological “markers” for identification of such tolerance responses in natural populations. Unraveling the natural diversity among P. euphratica populations that have developed stress tolerance mechanisms allows to select the best plant material for afforestation purposes relying on irrigation with marginal water, such saline and reclaimed waste water.

Collaboration: Arie Altman, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

Co-workers: Eliad Sassoni (MSc student) Tamar Weinberg (MSc student)

Partner organizations: The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Tel Aviv University