The mission of the Environmental and Chemical Biology (ECB) group is to explore and produce a novel understanding of desert ecosystem biodiversity, plant biological and physiological processes, demonstrate the significance of native plants and their role in combating desertification, the economic importance of medicinal plants and ecological complexity of desert ecosystems to the scientific community and public. The mission is also extended to assist people and institutions in their effort to promote biodiversity conservation, enhance the efficient and sustainable uses of natural resources, and protect environmental values and cultures.
Goals and Objectives
- The overall aim of the research group is to explore, exploit and conserve the natural resources of the UAE by establishing a research team in Sharjah specialized in all aspects of natural resources such as economically important plants, biodiversity, and conservation. The specific aims of the group can be summarized as follows:
- Exploration and utilization of the economic potentially important natural products of native plants
- Determination of candidate genes including their products (proteins and metabolites) that enable plants of hyper-arid deserts to tolerate abiotic stresses, such as drought, heat, and salinity
- Determination of the most important active chemical/biochemical constituents in native plants, environmental factors affecting such constituents, and their possible impact on the plant host, ecosystem, and our life including their medicinal uses.
- Studying foliar trichomes of selected medicinal plants and identifying their secreted substances including their biological activities.
- Using native plants in landscaping the UAE cities
- Barcoding/ fingerprinting of the UAE native plants by identifying unique short DNA sequences. An application includes the determination of natives from allied plants and possibly their sources.
- Establishing Palynotheca (pollen grains bank) and compiling a palynological Atlas for the UAE.
- Establishing a pollen calendar for Sharjah Emirate and linking the changes in pollen types and density to pollen allergenicity.
- Identifying and assessing the roles of potential natural engineer plants that could be used in combating desertification and rehabilitation/restoration of degraded desert ecosystems.
- Assessing and conserving floral diversity in the UAE. Special priority will be given to the conservation of fragile habitats, threatened and endangered plants, and keystone trees.
The ECB research group has the professional skills for providing a variety of services to the community. A brief summary of potential services is listed below.
Training, Consultancy, and Community Services:
- Specialized consulting services in the main research areas of the group
- Specialized research studies and natural product development
- All aspects of natural resources, such as medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation of indigenous plants, phytoremediation, and bioremediation, applications of pollen grains in medicine, agriculture, environment
- Support concerned governmental agencies and organizations
Outreach and Knowledge Transfer:
- Organize and deliver professional training, workshops, and conferences
- Provide updated knowledge and research findings to the community
- Tailored professional training courses designed to support biotechnologists, chemists, and pharmacists
- Short courses on environmental sustainability, and exploration and conservation of natural resources
- Organizing conferences and workshops on the different fields of the group disciplines
- Seminars and distinguished research lectures