Meeting the world's food security challenge will require a multi-national, collaborative effort to integrate the best research from science, engineering and socioeconomics so that technological advances can bring benefits where they are most needed. The present book covers the effect of major environmental problems on crop production and how to cope with these issues for sustainable agriculture and improvements of crops. The world's population is predicted to hit 9.6 Billion by 2050, up from today's total of nearly 7.3 Billion, and with it food demand is predicted to increase substantially. The post-war `second agricultural revolution' in developed countries, and the `green revolution' in developing nations in the mid- 1960s converted agricultural practices and elevated crop yields spectacularly, but the outcome is levelling off and will not meet projected demand. Simultaneously, crop production is affected by many other factors, including industrial pollution, overuse of fertilizers and insecticides, heavy metal and radiation stresses etc. It has been noted that many pests are becoming resistant to insecticides. Estimates vary, but around 25% of crops can be lost to pests and diseases. Climate change associated with agriculture is also a global issue. Agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases and is estimated to account for 10-12% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Many of the issues highlighted are global problems and are addressed thoroughly in this work.
Natural remedies play an important role in curing ailments that happen by chance or adoptively. Adhatoda vasica is a natural Asian remedy that has the potential to treat respiratory disorders, among others. While existing literature does exist on this medicinal plant, it can be cumbersome to sort through for information relevant to academics, research, and practice. This work reframes and consolidates information on Adhatoda vasica so that it is easier to approach through academic, research, and practitioner perspectives.
Current research lays emphasis on exploring natural products for use in nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals to overcome various side effects of synthetic drugs. Fungi occupy an eminent position among natural sources of food and medicinal importance since ancient times. Many fungal species have been eaten as food and used in folk medicine for the treatment of many human ailments as mentioned in traditional medical literature. However, scanty information is available pertaining to the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical importance of fungi which merits an extensive review. This book spotlights the use value macrofungi in human health. Macrofungi with health benefitting properties largely belong to Basidiomycota followed by Ascomycota growing indoor (cultivated) and outdoor (wild). We endeavoured to throw light on the benefits of macrofungal taxa in relation to their food and medicinal significance in human life. We provided knowledge pertaining to the ethnomycological significance of macrofungi with respect to their uses as food and medicine by the people inhabiting different parts of the world. This book highlights the nutritional composition and bioactive compounds present in macrofungi. We also focused on the pharmacological activities of macrofungi contributing towards their medicinal value against several human disorders. We cited many commercially available nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products of macrofungal origin. This work will hopefully serve as a basic reference for general public, mycologists, researches and industry men, interested in consumption, research and marketing of macrofungi.
The improvement of crop species has been a basic pursuit since cultivation began thousands of years ago. To feed an ever increasing world population will require a great increase in food production. Wheat, corn, rice, potato and few others are expected to lead as the most important crops in the world. Enormous efforts are made all over the world to document as well as use these resources. Everybody knows that the introgression of genes in wheat provided the foundation for the "Green Revolution". Later also demonstrated the great impact that genetic resources have on production. Several factors are contributing to high plant performance under different environmental conditions, therefore an effective and complementary use of all available technological tools and resources is needed to meet the challenge.
To comprehend the organizational principle of cellular functions at diff erent levels, an integrative approach with large-scale experiments, the so-called `omics' data including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, is needed. Omics aims at the collective characterization and quantifi cation of pools of biological molecules that translate into the structure, function, and dynamics of an organism or organisms. Currently, omics is an essential tool to understand the molecular systems that underlie various plant functions. Furthermore, in several plant species, the development of omicsresources has progressed to address the particular biological properties of individual species. Integration of knowledge from omics-based research is an emerging issue as researchers seek to identify significance, gain biological insights and promote translational research. From these perspectives, we intend to provide the emerging aspects of plant systems research based on omics and bioinformatics analyses together with their associated resources and technological advances. Th e present book covers a wide range of omics topics, and discusses the latest trends and application area of plant sciences. In this volume, we have highlighted the working solutions as well as open problems and future challenges in plant omics studies. We believe that this book will initiate and introduce readers to state-of-the-art developments and trends in omics-driven research.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza) is one of the most widely used in foods, herbal medicine and one of the extensively researched medicinal plants of the world. In traditional medicine licorice roots have been used against treating many ailments including lung diseases, arthritis, kidney diseases, eczema, heart diseases, gastric ulcer, low blood pressure, allergies, liver toxicity, and certain microbial infections. Licorice extract contains sugars, starch, bitters, resins, essential oils, tannins, inorganic salts and low levels of nitrogenous constituents such as proteins, individual amino acids, and nucleic acids. A large number of biologically active compounds have been isolated from Glycyrrhiza species, where triterpene, saponins and flavonoids are the main constitutes which show broad biological activities.The present book will discuss the botany, the commercial interests as well as the recent studies on the phytochemistry and pharmacology of licorice. It will also describe the side effects and toxicity of licorice and its bioactive components, an underrepresented subjects of importance.It will be the first book to present global perspectives of licorice in detail. It will serve as a carefully researched introduction for students, healthcare practitioners, botanists and plant biochemists; full of historical background and bridges the gap between botany, ecology, pharmacology, as well as treatment of diseases.
This book covers studies on the systematics of plant taxa and will include general vegetational aspects and ecological characteristics of plant life at altitudes above 1000 m. from different parts of the world. This volume also addresses how upcoming climate change scenarios will impact high altitude plant life. It presents case studies from the most important mountainous areas like the Himalayas, Caucasus and South America covering the countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kirghizia, Georgia, Russia,Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Americas. The book will serve as an invaluable resource source undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers.
The interactions between the plant, soil, and microbes are very complex in nature and may be antagonistic, mutualistic, or synergistic, depending upon the types of microorganisms and their association with the plant and soil. The multi-trophictactics are involved in these types of interactions to nourish the plants in various habitats and conditions. Understanding the mechanisms of these interactions is highly desired to utilize the knowledge in such an eco-friendly and sustainable way, which may not only resolve the upcoming food security issues but also make the environment green by reducing the chemical inputs. Plant, Soil and Microbes: Mechanisms and Molecular Interactions, along with the recently published Plant, Soil and Microbes: Implications in Crop Science, provide detailed accounts of the exquisite and delicate balance between the three critical components of agronomy. Specifically, these two titles focus on the basis of nutrient exchange between the microorganisms and the host plants, the mechanism of disease protection and the recent molecular details emerged from studying this multitropic interaction. Together they provide a solid foundation for the students, teachers, and researchers interested in soil microbiology, plant pathology, ecology and agronomy.
Agricultural biomass is abundant worldwide and it can be considered as alternative source of renewable and sustainable materials which can be used as potential materials for different applications. Despite this enormous production of agricultural biomass, only a small fraction of the total biomass is utilized for different applications. Industry must be prepared to take advantage of the situation and utilize the available biomass in the best possible manner. Agricultural biomass such as natural fibres has been successfully investigated as a great potential to be used as a renewable and sustainable materials for the production of composite materials. Natural fibres offer excellent specific properties and have potential as outstanding reinforcing fillers in the matrix and can be used as an alternative material for biocomposites, hybrid composites, pulp, and paper industries. Natural fibre based polymer composites made of jute, oil palm, flex, hemp, kenaf have a low market cost, attractive with respect to global sustainability and find increasing commercial use in different applications. Agricultural biomass based composites find applications in a number of fields viz., automotive industry and construction industry. Future research on agricultural biomass-natural fibre based composites should not only be limited to its automotive applications but can be explored for its application in aircraft components, construction industry, rural housing and biomedical applications. In this book we will cover the chemical, physical, thermal, electrical, and biodegradability properties of agricultural biomass based composite materials and its different potential applications. The main goal of this volume is to familiarize researchers, scientists and engineers with the unique research opportunities and potentials of agricultural biomass based materials.Up-to-date information on alternative biomass utilizationAcademic and industry leaders discuss unique properties of biomass based composite materials Direct application of agricultural biomass materials as sustainable and renewable alternatives
Soil is the most important natural non-renewable resource developed over a longer period of time due to weathering of rocks and subsequently enrichment of organic matter. Soil provides habitat for numerous microorganisms and serves as a natural medium for plant growth, thereby providing the plants with anchorage, nutrients and water to sustain the growth. Soil also serves as a universal sink for all types of pollutants, purifies ground water and is a major reserve of carbon in the universe. The role of soils to provide ecosystem services, maintenance of environmental/human health and ensuring the food security makes it as the most important and basic natural resource. Soil Science helps us to elaborate and understand how the soils provide all these services. Soil Science also provides us the basic knowledge dealing with the origin of the soil parent material, weathering of parent material and the formation of soils, morphological, physico-chemical and biological features of soils, classification of soils and role of soils in the provision and maintenance of ecosystem services, food security and environmental quality. This book encompasses the various processes, functions and behaviour of soils very comprehensively to acquaint the students of soil, plant and environmental sciences about their role to perform different agricultural and environmental functions.
Biomass obtained from agricultural residues or forest can be used to produce different materials and bioenergy required in a modern society. As compared to other resources available, biomass is one of the most common and widespread resources in the world. Thus, biomass has the potential to provide a renewable energy source, both locally and across large areas of the world. It is estimated that the total investment in the biomass sector between 2008 and 2021 will reach the large sum of $104 billion. Presently bioenergy is the most important renewable energy option and will remain so the near and medium-term future. Previously several countries try to explore the utilization of biomass in bioenergy and composite sector. Biomass has the potential to become the world's largest and most sustainable energy source and will be very much in demand. Bioenergy is based on resources that can be utilized on a sustainable basis all around the world and can thus serve as an effective option for the provision of energy services. In addition, the benefits accrued go beyond energy provision, creating unique opportunities for regional development. The present book will provide an up-to-date account of non-wood, forest residues, agricultural biomass (natural fibers), and energy crops together with processing, properties and its applications to ensure biomass utilization and reuse. All aspects of biomass and bioenergy and their properties and applications will be critically re-examined. The book consists of three sections, presenting Non wood and forest products from forestry, arboriculture activities or from wood processing, agricultural biomass (natural fibers) from agricultural harvesting or processing and finally energy crops: high yield crops and grasses grown especially for energy production.
Early anthropological evidence for plant use as medicine is 60,000 years old as reported from the Neanderthal grave in Iraq. The importance of plants as medicine is further supported by archeological evidence from Asia and the Middle East. Today, around 1.4 billion people in South Asia alone have no access to modern health care, and rely instead on traditional medicine to alleviate various symptoms. On a global basis, approximately 50 to 80 thousand plant species are used either natively or as pharmaceutical derivatives for life-threatening conditions that include diabetes, hypertension and cancers. As the demand for plant-based medicine rises, there is an unmet need to investigate the quality, safety and efficacy of these herbals by the "scientific methods". Current research on drug discovery from medicinal plants involves a multifaceted approach combining botanical, phytochemical, analytical, and molecular techniques. For instance, high throughput robotic screens have been developed by industry; it is now possible to carry out 50,000 tests per day in the search for compounds which act on a key enzyme or a subset of receptors. This and other bioassays thus offer hope that one may eventually identify compounds for treating a variety of diseases or conditions. However, drug development from natural products is not without its problems. Frequent challenges encountered include the procurement of raw materials, the selection and implementation of appropriate high-throughput bioassays, and the scaling-up of preparative procedures. Research scientists should therefore arm themselves with the right tools and knowledge in order to harness the vast potentials of plant-based therapeutics. The main objective of Plant and Human Health is to serve as a comprehensive guide for this endeavor. Volume 1 highlights how humans from specific areas or cultures use indigenous plants. Despite technological developments, herbal drugs still occupy a preferential place in a majority of the population in the third world and have slowly taken roots as alternative medicine in the West. The integration of modern science with traditional uses of herbal drugs is important for our understanding of this ethnobotanical relationship. Volume 2 deals with the phytochemical and molecular characterization of herbal medicine. Specifically, It will focus on the secondary metabolic compounds which afford protection against diseases. Lastly, Volume 3 focuses on the physiological mechanisms by which the active ingredients of medicinal plants serve to improve human health. Together this three-volume collection intends to bridge the gap for herbalists, traditional and modern medical practitioners, and students and researchers in botany and horticulture.
The rapid thriving of industries, conversion of agricultural land to residential areas, habitat destruction, deforestation and use of recalcitrant synthetic substances enhanced the rate of degradation of the environment. Although there are various conventional techniques for degradation and cleaning of noxious pollutants from disturbed environs, they are energy inefficient and costly to install. Bioremediation has emerged recently as an alternative and novel approach to manage and control environmental pollutants. This volume focuses explicitly on the remediation of noxious substances in stressed environs. It includes expert-contributed chapters on bio-monitoring by way of evaluating the relationship of biota with the polluted/stressed environs, sustainable plant-based degradation of noxious pollutants, and the application of biotechnologies to achieve tailored responses.
Academicians, researchers, scientists and students will find this work essential for sustainable treatment of noxious pollutants. This book also serves as a core guide for training, teaching and research in conservation biology and environmental rehabilitation.
Oral health loss is one of the major problems existing all over the world and is one of the top causes of death when unmanaged. The oral cavity is home to numerous pathogenic microorganisms, some of which are responsible for the progression and development of various systemic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and myocardial infarction. Worldwide, 60-90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities, often leading to pain and discomfort. There are implications for the global economy as well, due to the continuous burden of investing resources to maintain oral hygiene. Not surprisingly, developing countries are disproportionally affected. There is thus an urgent need to develop economical solutions for the treatment of oral diseases. The trend of exploring plants or plant-derived compounds for the prevention and cure of death-causing diseases is on the rise. The use of traditional medicine for oral diseases is an ancient practice in which medicinal herbs play a major role. Medicinal plants have minimal side effects and no denigrating properties. Accordingly the use of medicinal plants to curtail oral pathogens has been reported by a number of studies.
The present book updates the issues related to oral health, oral diseases and the role of medicinal plants in overcoming orally-derived health problems. We also highlight the knowledge gaps in oral health related problems with medicinal plants as one of the solutions. Our ultimate goal is to encourage future research and application of medicinal plants for economical and efficient treatment of oral diseases.
?Plant signalling has emerged as an integrated field which has become indispensable in recent times to study any biological process. Over the last decade, an enormous amount of information has been generated in this field and the advances in information technology gave birth to bioinformatics which has helped greatly in managing the galaxy of information. It is now possible to view the different information's in a systems biology approach which has unravelled the association/ new processes and thus helped us enormously in understanding of the biological processes. The present book is an attempt at understanding the plant signalling processes with different perspectives. Even though the plants are sessile but there exists a tremendous interconnected network of perception at morphological, physiological and molecular levels. The impact of the surrounding environment in terms of abiotic and biotic stresses is significant in terms of its survival, adaptation and productivity for the human welfare. The plants possess a wide array of processes at the organ, tissue and cellular levels which are governed by a plethora of molecules. The molecules govern individual processes and these exists a cross talk between them to form a complex network of processes. The book tries to envision how different processes are operating at different points in the life cycle of the plant.
Allelopathic studies may be defined in various aspects; weed against weed/crop and vice versa. This book focuses on the ways to utilize the allelopathic potential of weeds or crops for controlling weeds in the agroecosystems. Vigorous use of herbicides is poisoning our environment at an alarming rate; allelopathy can be employed as a useful alternative to control weeds naturally under field conditions. The book contains chapters on the history of allelopathy; allelopathic potential of several important crops (rice, wheat, sorghum, maize, mustard, sunflower) and weeds (members of Solanaceae, Convolvulaceae, Asteraceae, Verbenaceae). Moreover, it highlights how the allelopathic potential of these weeds and crops can be employed effectively to suppress weeds under field conditions. The book also discusses topics on the role of allelochemicals in agroecosystems; impact on local flora; biotic stress induced by allelochemicals; mechanism of action of allelochemicals and future prospective of allelopathy. Prepared with basic concepts and importance of allelopathy, this book is intended for the agricultural community, botanists, students and researchers.
Bioinformatics is an integrative field of computer science, genetics, genomics, proteomics, and statistics, which has undoubtedly revolutionized the study of biology and medicine in past decades. It mainly assists in modeling, predicting and interpreting large multidimensional biological data by utilizing advanced computational methods. Despite its enormous potential, bioinformatics is not widely integrated into the academic curriculum as most life science students and researchers are still not equipped with the necessary knowledge to take advantage of this powerful tool. Hence, the primary purpose of our book is to supplement this unmet need by providing an easily accessible platform for students and researchers starting their career in life sciences. This book aims to avoid sophisticated computational algorithms and programming. Instead, it focuses on simple DIY analysis and interpretation of biological data with personal computers. Our belief is that once the beginners acquire these basic skillsets, they will be able to handle most of the bioinformatics tools for their research work and to better understand their experimental outcomes.
Our second title of this volume set In Silico Life Sciences: Medicine provides hands-on experience in analyzing high throughput molecular data for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of monogenic or polygenic human diseases. The key concepts in this volume include risk factor assessment, genetic tests and result interpretation, personalized medicine, and drug discovery. This volume is expected to train readers in both single and multi-dimensional biological analysis using open data sets, and provides a unique learning experience through clinical scenarios and case studies.
An increasing population has put tremendous pressure on agricultural productivity to fulfill the demands of human consumption. Numerous agricultural activities and techniques have been developed to raise annual crop production globally. While agriculture has succeeded in enhancing the yearly crop productivity, this achievement is at the cost of environmental degradation by applying synthetic persistent substances, such as industrial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Chemical fertilizers are nearly as destructive as they are productive, causing monocultures and consequences associated with elimination of diversity, nutrient pollution as evidenced by algae blooms, eutrophication, water quality issues, lower oxygen levels and dangers to fish stocks. Therefore, the scientific approach to maintain sustainable fertility in soil and plants is to switch over to biofertilisers.Biofertilisers are compounds of organic matter that are applied to crops for growth and health. Their constituent micro-organisms interact in an ecofriendly manner with the soil, root and seeds of plants, promoting the growth of micro-flora that enhances soil fertility. They are known to play a number of vital roles in soil fertility, crop productivity and production in agriculture. Application of biofertilisers results in increased mineral and water uptake, root development, vegetative growth and nitrogen fixation. They liberate growth promoting substances and vitamins and help to maintain soil fertility. They act as antagonists and play a pivotal role in neutralising the soil borne plant pathogens, thereby assisting in the bio-control of diseases. Application of biofertilisers in lieu of synthetic fertilizers could be the promising technique to raise agricultural productivity without degrading the environmental quality.
The present book focuses on the latest research approaches and updates from the microbiota ecosystem and their applications in agriculture industry. It also highlights the great potential and possible future of action of microbiota in the development of sustainable agricultural systems.
Bioinformatics is an integrative field of computer science, genetics, genomics, proteomics, and statistics, which has undoubtedly revolutionized the study of biology and medicine in past decades. It mainly assists in modeling, predicting and interpreting large multidimensional biological data by utilizing advanced computational methods. Despite its enormous potential, bioinformatics is not widely integrated into the academic curriculum as most life science students and researchers are still not equipped with the necessary knowledge to take advantage of this powerful tool. Hence, the primary purpose of our book is to supplement this unmet need by providing an easily accessible platform for students and researchers starting their career in life sciences. This book aims to avoid sophisticated computational algorithms and programming. Instead, it mostly focuses on simple DIY analysis and interpretation of biological data with personal computers. Our belief is that once the beginners acquire these basic skillsets, they will be able to handle most of the bioinformatics tools for their research work and to better understand their experimental outcomes.
Unlike other bioinformatics books which are mostly theoretical, this book provides practical examples for the readers on state-of-the-art open source tools to solve biological problems. Flow charts of experiments, graphical illustrations, and mock data are included for quick reference. Volume I is therefore an ideal companion for students and early stage professionals wishing to master this blooming field.
The interactions between the plant, soil and microbes are complex in nature. Events may be antagonistic, mutualistic or synergistic, depending upon the types of microorganisms and their association with the plant and soil in question. Multi-trophic tactics can therefore be employed to nourish plants in various habitats and growth conditions. Understanding the mechanisms of these interactions is thus highly desired in order to utilize the knowledge in an ecofriendly and sustainable way. This holistic approach to crop improvement may not only resolve the upcoming food security issues, but also make the environment greener by reducing the chemical inputs. Plant, soil and microbe, Volume 1: Implications in Crop Science, along with the forthcoming Volume 2: Mechanisms and Molecular Interactions, provide detailed accounts of the exquisite and delicate balance between the three critical components of agronomy. Specifically, these two titles focus on the basis of nutrient exchange between the microorganisms and the host plants, the mechanism of disease protection and the recent molecular details emerged from studying this multi-tropic interaction. Together they aim to provide a solid foundation for the students, teachers, and researchers interested in soil microbiology, plant pathology, ecology and agronomy.
Plants have to manage a series of environmental stresses throughout their entire lifespan. Among these, abiotic stress is the most detrimental; one that is responsible for nearly 50% of crop yield reduction and appears to be a potential threat to global food security in coming decades. Plant growth and development reduces drastically due to adverse effects of abiotic stresses. It has been estimated that crop can exhibit only 30% of their genetic potentiality under abiotic stress condition. So, this is a fundamental need to understand the stress responses to facilitate breeders to develop stress resistant and stress tolerant cultivars along with good management practices to withstand abiotic stresses. Also, a holistic approach to understanding the molecular and biochemical interactions of plants is important to implement the knowledge of resistance mechanisms under abiotic stresses. Agronomic practices like selecting cultivars that is tolerant to wide range of climatic condition, planting date, irrigation scheduling, fertilizer management could be some of the effective short-term adaptive tools to fight against abiotic stresses. In addition, "system biology" and "omics approaches" in recent studies offer a long-term opportunity at the molecular level in dealing with abiotic stresses. The genetic approach, for example, selection and identification of major conditioning genes by linkage mapping and quantitative trait loci (QTL), production of mutant genes and transgenic introduction of novel genes, has imparted some tolerant characteristics in crop varieties from their wild ancestors. Recently research has revealed the interactions between micro-RNAs (miRNAs) and plant stress responses exposed to salinity, freezing stress and dehydration. Accordingly transgenic approaches to generate stress-tolerant plant are one of the most interesting researches to date.This book presents the recent development of agronomic and molecular approaches in conferring plant abiotic stress tolerance in an organized way. The present volume will be of great interest among research students and teaching community, and can also be used as reference material by professional researchers.
Early anthropological evidence for plant use as medicine is 60,000 years old as reported from the Neanderthal grave in Iraq. The importance of plants as medicine is further supported by archeological evidence from Asia and the Middle East. Today, around 1.4 billion people in South Asia alone have no access to modern health care, and rely instead on traditional medicine to alleviate various symptoms. On a global basis, approximately 50 to 80 thousand plant species are used either natively or as pharmaceutical derivatives for life-threatening conditions that include diabetes, hypertension and cancers. As the demand for plant-based medicine rises, there is an unmet need to investigate the quality, safety and efficacy of these herbals by the "scientific methods". Current research on drug discovery from medicinal plants involves a multifaceted approach combining botanical, phytochemical, analytical, and molecular techniques. For instance, high throughput robotic screens have been developed by industry; it is now possible to carry out 50,000 tests per day in the search for compounds, which act on a key enzyme or a subset of receptors. This and other bioassays thus offer hope that one may eventually identify compounds for treating a variety of diseases or conditions. However, drug development from natural products is not without its problems. Frequent challenges encountered include the procurement of raw materials, the selection and implementation of appropriate high-throughput bioassays, and the scaling-up of preparative procedures.
Research scientists should therefore arm themselves with the right tools and knowledge in order to harness the vast potentials of plant-based therapeutics. The main objective of Plant and Human Health is to serve as a comprehensive guide for this endeavor. Volume 1 highlights how humans from specific areas or cultures use indigenous plants. Despite technological developments, herbal drugs still occupy a preferential place in a majority of the population in the third world and have slowly taken roots as alternative medicine in the West. The integration of modern science with traditional uses of herbal drugs is important for our understanding of this ethnobotanical relationship. Volume 2 deals with the phytochemical and molecular characterization of herbal medicine. Specifically, it focuess on the secondary metabolic compounds, which afford protection against diseases. Lastly, Volume 3 discusses the physiological mechanisms by which the active ingredients of medicinal plants serve to improve human health. Together this three-volume collection intends to bridge the gap for herbalists, traditional and modern medical practitioners, and students and researchers in botany and horticulture.
Healthy environment is important for any kind of biota on earth. It provides the basic elements of life such as clean water, fresh air, fertile soil and supports ecosystem of the food chain. Pollution drastically alters quality of the environment by changing the physico-chemical and biological aspects of these components. Accordingly, toxic metals, combustible and putrescible substances, hazardous wastes, explosives and petroleum products are all examples of inorganic and organic compounds that cause contaminations. Specifically, pollution of toxic and heavy metal in the environment is a growing problem worldwide, currently at an alarming rate. Toxic metals threaten the aquatic ecosystems, agriculture and ultimately human health. Traditional treatment techniques offer certain advantages such as rapid processing, ease of operation and control and flexibility. But, they could not maintain the quality of the environment due to the high operational costs of chemicals used, high energy consumption and handling costs for sludge disposal and overburden of chemical substances which irreversibly affect and destroy biodiversity, which ultimately render the soil useless as a medium for plant growth. Therefore, bioremediation and biotechnology, carried out by living assets to clean up, stabilize and restore contaminated ecosystems, have emerged as promising, environmental friendly and affordable approaches. Furthermore, the use of microbes, algae, transgenic plants and weeds adapted to stressful environments could be employed to enhance accumulation efficiency. Hence, sustainable and inexpensive processes are fast emerging as a viable alternative to conventional remediation methods, and will be most suitable for developing countries.
In the current volume, we discuss pollution remediation challenges and how living organisms and the latest biotechnological techniques could be helpful in remediating the pollution in ecofriendly and sustainable ways.
Increase in world population, extreme weather conditions, decrease in fresh water supplies, and changes of dietary habits are major issues that affect global food security. We are expected to face the challenges of land use by 2050 because population will reach 9 billion while agricultural productivity losses are expected due to overuse of lands. How can we feed the next generations in a manner that respects our ?nite natural resources? Managing our resources in a sustainable way have only begun for selected crops. Much remains to be done to increase food yield. Cropping practices capable of sustainable production need to be elaborated, especially in fragile ecosystems. Typical applications will include the improvement and use of genetic resources; crop management and diversification; diffusion of improved varieties; development of cropping systems; sustainable cropping systems for areas prone to environmental degradation; use of agro-ecological data for crop production forecasting; and networks for regional coordination, and data exchange. The impetus behind this book is to bring attention to a cropping system that bears direct relevance to sustainable agriculture and food security. "Underutilized" crops are found in numerous agricultural ecosystems and often survive mainly in marginal areas. It is timely to review their status because, in recent decades, scientific and economic interests have emerged which focus on lesser-known cultivated species. Underutilized crops have a great potential to alleviate hunger directly, through increasing food production in challenging environments where major crops are severely limited."Global Perspectives on Underutilized Crops" is therefore topical and highlights the unmet agricultural challenges that we face today. This book is an important resource for students and researchers of crop science and agricultural policy makers.