Ecosystems and Climate Change

1. Investigating The Snow Cover And Glaciers Variation Trend In The Gilgit River Basin, Using Satellite Remote Sensing

An agricultural country, Pakistan is highly dependent on the Indus irrigation system, one of the largest irrigation networks in the world. The Indus River catchment area upstream of Tarbela reservoir is called the Upper Indus River basin (UIB) which contributes the main inflow to the main course of the Indus River at high elevations as a result of snow and glacier melt. A large portion of the UIB is situated in the remote regions of Hindukush-Karakoram-Himalaya ranges. Seasonal variation of the snow and glacier cover influences directly the stream flow in the Upper Indus River. It is, therefore, important to monitor the seasonal snow cover in snow-fed catchments for several purposes such as hydrometeorology, flood forecasting and water resource management. The hydro-meteorological and snow cover investigations based on the ground data are very difficult in these regions. Satellite remote sensing is a powerful tool to estimate the snow and glacier (cryosphere) covered area in remote and inaccessible areas. MODIS snow cover products have been widely used to estimate the snow cover area by researchers (Maurer et al., 2003; Tahir et al., 2011; Tekeli et al., 2005) in several regions of the world. MODIS (MOD10A2) snow cover satellite product over a period of 12 years (2000 to 2011) will be used to estimate the snow and glacier cover trend in the Gilgit River basin (a sub-catchment of the UIB). Gilgit River basin nearly doubles the Indus River flow at Partab bridge so the snow cover estimation will help the water managers to manage the water resources in the UIB.


Project Funding
 Funding Body Funds
1 Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) no logo 0.5 Million Rupee


Project Members
  • Dr. Adnan Ahmad  Tahir
  • 2. Isolation And Identification Of Bacterial Grazer Nematodes: Their Effect On Rhizo-Bacterial Communities And Phosphorus Uptake By Pine Seedlings, 0.5 M PKR (HEC)

    Phosphorus (P) is of vital importance for plant production due to the plant metabolic requirements for growth and replication. However, P is taken up by plants and microorganisms only as orthophosphate (Pi). And soil microorganisms known to be more efficient for the assimilation of available P. Therefore, P limits the productivity of plants in many terrestrial ecosystems and is often the first or second element limiting aboveground net primary productivity of forests. Although the use of fertilizers is compensating the deficiency of phosphorus but it gives a worst impact on environment. An important strategy to overcome these problems is the use of natural renewable resources such as soil microorganisms which act as a sink and a source of available phosphorus (P) by mediating key processes in the biogeochemical P cycling. They can regulate the energy transfer processes with low input. In this context the microbial loop, based upon the predation of bacteria by their predator nematodes such as bacteria feeding nematodes, is thought to play a major role in the mineralization of nutrients such as phosphorus in terrestrial ecosystems. However, little is known about the impact of bacterial predation by nematodes on P nutrition of woody plants.
    My planned work is in the context of the forth-coming P crisis that will limit biomass production very soon. To face this crisis, I propose to find innovative strategies aiming at better exploiting the soil and microbial P pools. I plan to focus my research activities on using the potential microbial strains which can improve the plant growth in a cheap and renewable way as biofertilizer. My main strategy will rely on a better exploitation of the biological complexity existing between bacteria, their grazers such as bactivorous nematodes.
    Main objective of this study will be the establishment of the main factors regulating the effects of the microbial loop to the benefit of plant P nutrition in simplified conditions like a pot experimental study.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 Higher Education Commission of Pakistan no logo 500000 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Usman  Irshad
  • 3. Climate Change Impact On Cryosphere Melt And Hydrology Of A High-Altitude River Catchment - Use Of A Blend Of Remote Sensing And Ground Data

    An agricultural country, Pakistan is highly dependent on the Indus irrigation system, one of the largest irrigation networks in the world. The Indus River catchment area, upstream of Tarbela reservoir, is called the Upper Indus River basin (UIB), which contributes the main inflow to the Indus River at high elevations as a result of snow and glacier melt. Seasonal variation of the snow and glacier cover (resulting from change in climate variables) influences directly the stream flow in the Upper Indus River. It is, therefore, important to monitor the impacts of climate change on the cryosphere melt in snow-fed catchments for several purposes such as hydrometeorology, flood forecasting and water resource management. The hydro-meteorological and snow cover investigations based on the ground data are very difficult in these regions. Satellite remote sensing is a powerful tool to estimate the snow and glacier (cryosphere) covered area in remote and inaccessible areas. MODIS (MOD10A2) snow cover satellite product over a period of 14 years (2000 to 2013) and hydro-meteorological data of various gauging stations will be used to estimate the climate variability impacts on snow and glacier cover trend and hydrology of the Shigar River basin (a sub-catchment of the UIB), situated in the Karakoram range – Northern Pakistan.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 CIIT Research grant no logo 160000 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Muhammad  Bilal
  • Dr. Adnan Ahmad  Tahir
  • 4. Utilization Of Complex Network Of Microbial Interactions For Mobilization Of Soil Phosphorus Inaccessible For Plant Growth. Dr. Usman Irshad Principal Investigator, 2.7MPKR (HEC NRPU)

    Purposed work is in the context of the forth-coming P crisis that will limit biomass production. To face this crisis and to increase the sustainability of agricultural production, especially in the developing countries where the access at mineral P is extremely limited, the present study proposes to find innovative strategies aiming at better exploiting the soil organic/inorganic P pool. The focus of this research activity will be on unavailable P either mineral/organic, which constitutes a major fraction of soil P and that is very poorly usable by plants because plants are hardly able to secrete acids/phytases, required to hydrolyse/solubilize insoluble inorganic/organic P compound to release free phosphate (Pi), the sole source of P taken up by living organisms. In contrast to plants, bacteria can be able to use both unavailable P sources in pure culture, either by releasing organic acids/phytases and Pi in the external medium (Gram+ bacteria, such as Bacillus sp.) or in the periplasmic space (Gram- bacteria, such as Pseudomonas sp.).

    Our main strategy will rely on a better exploitation of the biological complexity between those bacteria, their grazers such as bacterivorous nematodes known as the microbial loop, together with the role of the mycorrhizal symbiosis. After the establishment of the main factors regulating the effects of the microbial loop to the benefit of plant P nutrition in simplified conditions in the laboratory. The effort will be to find indicators (i.e. nematofauna description) and possible drivers for ecological intensification of plant P nutrition in ecosystems with low availability P.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 2.7 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Usman  Irshad
  • 5. Metabolic Bases Of Soil-Biota Interactions And Their Biocontrol Potential For Host Plants, 0.5 MPKR (HEC)

    Phosphorus, an essential element for life, is continuously depleting from soils and thus demands
    sustainable management particularly in agriculture and forestry. Inorganic P constitutes the major
    proportion as tricalcium phosphate in soils of lower Himalayan region of Pakistan. We sampled these soils
    and screened for P-solubilizing microbes. A range of culturable microbial community (bacteria and fungi)
    was isolated and molecularly characterized which make the P available from mineral phosphates. There
    was an increase in abundance of phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) at a 6-inch depth of the pine
    rhizosphere compared to the surface soil samples. Moreover, the isolates from lower Himalaya have
    higher abundance and better efficiency to solubilize the inorganic P than the ones from non-Himalaya.
    Most likely the P-solubilization done by our P-solubilizing microbes is via acidification as we observed the
    decrease in pH of the medium of microbial growth. Furthermore, the majority of isolated PSB belong to
    gammaproteobacterial class of Gram negative bacteria. Most interestingly, 13% of our isolated PSB were
    psychrotolerant (physiologically active at cold environment, i.e., 4C) and able to solubilize inorganic P as
    efficiently as at ambient temperature. This study is unique in reporting the P-solubilizing microbes,
    particularly the psychrotolerant bacterial strains, of Lower Himalaya. Therefore the isolated bacterial and
    fungal strains have potential and may serve as biofertilizers in the region to increase the P availability in
    soils.

    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 0.5 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Rashid Nazir
  • Dr. Usman  Irshad
  • 6. P-Solubilizing¬† ¬†Microbial Consortia From Lower Himalayas And Their Potential¬†For Bioethanol Production. 2016. Funding Agency- HEC

    P-solubilizing   Microbial Consortia from Lower Himalayas and their Potential for Bioethanol Production.  2016.  Funding agency- HECP-solubilizing   Microbial Consortia from Lower Himalayas and their Potential for Bioethanol Production.  2016.  Funding agency- HEC


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 4.4 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Akhtar Iqbal
  • Dr. Rashid Nazir
  • 7. Nitrogen Cycling In Different Soil Ecosystems And Influence Of The Size Of Nosz Denitrifers On Overall Budget Of The Greenhouse Gas-Nitrous Oxide.

     

    This work will investigate the nitrogen cycling processes across different terrestrial ecosystems and will give an insight into the various ecological aspects of N cycling such as nitrous oxide emissions. Here, we will focus on both the nitrification and the denitrification.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 IFS Sweden (International Foundation For Science) no logo 1 Million Rupee


    Project Members
  • Dr. Farhan  Hafeez
  • 8. Ecological Aspects Of Nitrogen Cycling In Terrestrial Ecosystems And The Emission Of Nitrous Oxide, An Important Greenhouse Gas.

    This work will investigate the nitrogen cycling processes nitrification and denitrification across natural and disturbed soil ecosystems


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 0.5 Million Rupee


    Project Members
  • Dr. Farhan  Hafeez
  • Dr. Muhammad  Shahzad
  • 9. Identification And Characterization Of Lead (Pb) Responsive Genes In Wheat (Triticum Aestivum L.)

    Plants are the target of a wide range of pollutants that vary in concentration, specification and
    toxicity. Pollution of heavy metals is a global threat to the environment as they are widely present in the
    earth’s crust, in air, water and food. Studies showed that the metals like lead, cadmium, copper and
    chromium are found at toxic levels in soils of Pakistan (Ghafoor and Rasool, 1999). The areas where
    industries are concentrated or so called industrial zones, have contributed to a great extent in
    aggravating the problem. The situation becomes grim as the effluents and wastewater discharged from
    industries is often untreated and mostly used for irrigation purpose as well. Heavy metal pollutants are
    stable in the environment and highly toxic to biological organisms posing a major hazard to animals
    and human health by entering to the food chain. Therefore, the environmental pollution with heavy
    metals is a matter of great concern worldwide.
    Among the heavy metals, Lead (Pb) is one of the hazardous anthropogenic heavy metals. Pb pollution
    in the environment has resulted mainly from natural weathering processes, but apart from these mining
    and smelting activities, Pb containing paints, gasoline and explosive and disposal of municipal sewage
    sludge are main sources of Pb pollution in the environment. Pb has highly disruptive effects for many
    developmental as well as metabolic processes in human and plants. It has been reported that Pb binds
    strongly to a large number of molecules like amino acids, several enzymes, DNA and RNA; thus it
    disrupts many metabolic pathways. Pb also effects many other processes including seed germination,
    seedling growth, root growth, photosynthesis, plant water status, nutrient uptake, chromosomal
    abnormalities, the rate of cell division, membrane permeability as well as the clastogenic and mutagenic
    effects in higher plants (Pinero et al., 2002; Akinci et al., 2010; Liu et al., 2009). Pb threshold in blood
    is 10 μg/dl. However, Pb was found at 48 μg/dl and 27 μg/dl in Karachi and Islamabad respectively.
    Moreover, over 80% children have elevated blood Pb levels (Yakub et al., 2010; Agha et al., 2005).
    Wheat is the most important grain and a staple food for more than one third of the world population.
    In Pakistan, wheat is cultivated on the largest acreages in almost every part of the country and accounts
    for nearly 37 % of the total cropped area. Therefore, increased levels of Pb could be potential threat to
    limit the wheat production awell as could be serious problem for human health by entering into the
    food chain

    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 500000 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Rafiq  Ahmad
  • Dr. Sabaz  Ali Khan
  • 10. Synergistic Mycorhizodegradation For Remediation Of Different Contaminated Soils

    Synergistic mycorhizodegradation for remediation of different contaminated soils


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 TWAS-CIIT no logo 500000 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Rafiq  Ahmad
  • 11. Investigating The Symbiotic Relationship Of Ectomycorrhizal And Pine Trees Grown On Different Soils Under Elevated O3 And High Nitrogen Load

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and published literatures have shown that the concentrations of ozone (O3) at ground level has increased 60–100% during last century due to industrialization, climate change and other anthropogenic sources and expected to increase upto 18% by 2100. Similarly, Nitrogen (N) deposition at ground level has increased 25 kg N ha-1 year-1 in Europe, 50-100 kg N ha-1 year-1 in the Netherlands and 3.1 to 18.2 kg N ha-1 year-1 in Japan. The high levels O3 and N in atmosphere are considered as pollutants and decreased the growth of both agricultural crops and forest trees worldwide and particularly in Asian countries. The majority of forests’s rhizospheres are symbiotically colonized by ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) and ECM help the host in uptake of water and nutrients. Although many studies have been conducted worldwide on physiological responses of forest trees to elevated O3but this topic is neglected by pakistani researchers. Therefore, in this study, the effects of different level of O3 and nitrogen on pines tress will be studied at molecular and genetic level. The possible outcome of this research will help us  in the afforestation of pine trees, as climates change and the risk of O3 pollution and/or nitrogen deposition increases. 


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 6.51 Million Rupee


    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshid  Pervez
  • Dr. Rafiq  Ahmad
  • Dr. Sabaz  Ali Khan
  • 12. Intercropping Systems, (6.25 M PKR (300000 Chinese Yuan, Local Sichuan Govt. CPEC Initiative)

    Cereal-legume intercrops, a typical model for using biodiversity to enhance the resources use efficiency (i.e. phosphorus), was commonly adopted in Sichuan province. For a long time, the studies on microbial processes for improving phosphorus use focused on microbial community level because of the limited  molecular tools. Studies carried out so far on the improvement of rhizosphere phosphorus availability by plants have neglected to take into account the relationships between the roots and soil microorganisms, especially the bacterial communities. We proposed to explore the importance of the interactions between microbial processes and root-soil interface processes, together with the effect of microbial loop occurring in the rhizosphere between bacteria and their microfaunal grazers (protozoa or nematodes). The present study focuses on multiple trophic interactions between bacteria and their microfaunal grazers (protozoa or nematodes) and microbial strengthening effects of root-soil interaction in terms of efficient phosphorus acquisition and use for cereal/legume intercropping system in purple and paddy soil of Sichuan province through field trials and pot experiment in green house. Some key methods and techniques for monitoring dynamic processes and related parameters in the root-soil interface are adopted, including in situ research methods for rhizosphere processes, new generation gene sequencing technology, a novel non-invasive optical method for quantitative visualization of pH dynamics and fluorescence probe detection combined with molecular biological techniques. The main objectives of the present study are to systematically investigate the spatio-temporal changes of rhizosphere microbial community and its effect on microbial biomass phosphorus, clarify mechanisms of the predations of microfanua on microbial P turnover for efficient use of phosphorus, reveal the mechanisms of rhizosphere functional microbial groups that mediate or modify root growth on efficient use of phosphorus, thus develop the strategies for rhizosphere/root zoon management to enhance phosphorus use efficiency in cereal/legume intercrops. This study will provide scientific basis for improving phosphorus use efficiency in intercropping and achieving sustainable production of saving fertilizer and increasing efficiency in farmlands.

     

     


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 Sichuan Agricultural University, and local Sichuan Government China no logo 47000 $


    Project Members
  • Dr. Usman  Irshad
  • 13. Glacier Changes And Associated Hydrologic Impact Under Warming Climate In Hunza Valley Along The Sino-Pakistan Economic Corridor. (30 M PKR)

    The Hunza Valley, a tributary of the Indus River, is a highly glacierized river basin providing an ample amount of water to the Indus River and its tributaries. The river ultimately contributes large agriculture area in the downstream part for agrarian based economy of Pakistan. Global warming caused significant changes of glaciers with an average clear glacier mass loss worldwide. However, recent studies revealed the balanced mass budgets or even mass gain on investigated glaciers in Karakoram, eastern Pamir and western Kunlun Mountains and the occurrence of many surging glaciers. The Phenomenon is termed as the "Karakoram anomaly". The mechanism of the anomaly of glaciers and their future trend as well as potential impact on water availability in the region are key to the downstream economic development both in China and Pakistan. The purpose of the project, taking the case study of the Hunza Valley in close collaboration with the ICIMOD and its member country scientists, is to -analyze the spatiotemporal characteristics of glacier area change during the past decades by comparison of an up to date glacier inventory and the existing previous glacier inventories, and mass changes by digital elevation model (DEM) differencing from the early map DEMs or that from declassified satellite images as well as that generated from the most recent satellite data. Snow cover dynamics is also analyzed by integration of AVHHR, MODIS, Fengyun, SMM/R, SSM/I, AMSR-E snow products with careful refinement of the cloud cover influence. The response mechanism of snow and glacier to climate change is discussed with a mass-balance-dynamic model. -model meltwater runoff processes with a conceptual hydrological model coupling with a glacier module for benchmark glacier watersheds with in-situ hydro-meteorological observations and detailed glaciological observations. -project the water availability of the Hunza Valley under changes of snow and glaciers with the hydrological model forced by CMIP5 climate ensemble scenarios. The outcome of this project will be a systematic assessment of the spatial and temporal variability of glacier area and mass changes in Hunza Valley, its influence on hydrologic regimes and natural disasters, and its control by local and regional climatic forcing. This will be realized with the aid of ground data collection, satellite image archives, and available hydro-meteorological network run by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), Water, Pakistan
    Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Karakoram International University as well as glacio-hydrologic modeling through bilateral cooperation of China and ICMOD scientists (member country scientists).


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 NSFC China and ICIMOD no logo 30000000 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Adnan Ahmad  Tahir
  • 14. Polymer Enhanced Biogas Production Through Co-Digestion Of Poultry Waste

    Methane is a strong green house gas (21 times that of CO2) and anaerobic decomposition of organic waste under natural conditions can lead to uncontrolled release of methane in the atmosphere. Controlled production of methane under anaerobic conditions from organic waste and its utilization as energy source can give two fold benefit- environmetal mitigation and energy capture. The current project aims at quantifying the biogas potential of poultry waste when co digested with food waste. Both food waste and poultry waste are abundantly available in Pakistan and thier biogas potential can be exploited for the energy needs of Pakistan.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 HEC no logo 484934 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Iftikhar Zeb
  • 15. Ecological Impact Of Transgenic Bt Cotton Hybrids On Soil Biological Attributes Of Varying Agricultural Soils In Pakistan

    Thsi project funded by ILSI Research Foundation, The Center for Environmental Risk Assessment (CERA) USA included three collaborative investigators (CI) and I worked as one of the CI of this project. The specific objectives of this project were to estimate the impact of Bt and non-Bt cottons, grown under three dominant soil textures (sandy loam, sandy clay loam and loam), on:

    • The diversity and abundance of the microbial communities by targeting soil microbial biomass carbon, culturable microbial populations (bacteria, fungi, yeast & actinomycetes) and the structure of microbial community.  
    • The nitrogen cycling by targeting and quantifying the nitrogen fixing bacteria, potential nitrification activity (PNA), urease activity and abundance of amoA gene (i.e. the gene coding the enzymes responsible for ammonia oxidation, the first and rate limiting step of nitrification).
    • The carbon cycling by targeting and quantifying the dehydrogenase activity and diversity of bacterial catA gene (i.e. gene coding for catechol 1,2-dioxygenase responsible for ring cleavage in many organic compounds).
    • The phosphorus cycling by targeting and quantifying the phosphatase activity and the diversity of organic phosphorus solubilizing bacterial populations

    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 ILSI Research Foundation, The Center for Environmental Risk Assessment (CERA) USA no logo 15700 $


    Project Members
  • Dr. Farhan  Hafeez
  • 16. Study On The Skin Care Efficacy Of The Local Medicinal Plants From Himalayan Region And The Construction Of The Related Industrial Pilot Platform

    Study on the skin care efficacy of medicinal plants from Himalayan region. Technology Development Project 


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 China no logo 4.5 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi
  • 17. Evaluation, Adaptation Studies And Popularization Of Kiwi Fruit In Different Ecologies (Upper And Lower Altitudes) Of Hazara Division

    Evaluation, adaptation studies and popularization of Kiwi Fruit in different ecologies (upper and lower altitudes) of Hazara division


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 PARC no logo 8 Rs


    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi
  • 18. Phytochemical Profiling And In Vitro Antioxidant Activity Of Selected Edible Wild Fruits Consumed By Local Communities Of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan

    Phytochemical profiling and in vitro antioxidant activity of selected edible wild fruits consumed by local communities of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan

    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi
  • 19. Impact Of Environment On Phytochemicals Content, Antioxidant And Antimicrobial Activities In Allium Cepa L

    Impact of Environment on Phytochemicals Content, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities in Allium cepa L

    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi