Salt-Tolerant Plant Offers Hope

Seeking solutions to a salty predicament.

By: Jeremy Veverka

March 19, 2016 / Dr. Ashwani Pareek, Professor at the School of Life Sciences Jawaharlal Nehru University, examines a plant that grows naturally by the shores of Sambhar Lake, a salt lake in Rajasthan, India.

March 19, 2016 / A farmer near Sambhar Lake describes how drought and increasing salinity of the soil in the local area has made his land unsuitable for growing vegetable crops. Instead of vegetables, he now grows barley and wheat in these marginal soils. But even these crops are impacted by the increasingly poor soil and water quality in the village.

March 20, 2016 / Dr. Ashwani Pareek, and his wife Dr. Sneh Pareek, are scientists who have both dedicated their scientific research to studying how plants can adapt to the stresses of drought and salinity. Here, they peruse the local vegetable market in the village of Sambhar. In the past, many of these vegetables would have been grown locally, but due to increasing drought and salinity in the region, these vegetables must now be shipped in from elsewhere.

March 20, 2016 / Dr. Ashwani Pareek stands in front of his family property in the village of Sambhar. When Pareek was a boy, this field was green with vegetables and other crops his father used to grow. The land is now inhospitable to agriculture due to the salinity of the soil.

March 20, 2016 / Suaeda Fruticosa, commonly known as Shrubby Seablite, is one of few plants that thrives in the dry, saline conditions near Sambhar lake. Dr. Ashwani Pareek studies this plant to understand how it is able to tolerate these extreme conditions, or "stresses."

March 23, 2015 / In his laboratory at the School of Life Sciences, JNU, India, Dr. Ashwani Pareek and post-doctoral student Priyanka Das examine a variety of rice developed by his lab that is tolerant to drought and salinity. Dr. Pareek hopes to one day use this technology to help farmers in his home village of Sambhar and elsewhere grow the traditional crops that they can no longer grow due to increasingly poor soil in area.

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