The mission of Environmental and Chemical Biology (ECB) group is to explore and produce novel understanding of desert ecosystem biodiversity, plant biological and physiological processes, demonstrate the significance of native plants and their role in combating desertification, economic importance of medicinal plants and ecological complexity of desert ecosystems to the scientific community and public. The mission is also extend 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.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 specialised 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 the hyperarid deserts to tolerate abiotic stresses, such as draught, 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 sequence. An application includes determination of native 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 link 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 conservation of fragile habitats, threatened and endangered plants and keystone trees.