On 3 September 2020, AFoCO and A.N. Bukeikhan Kazakh Research Institute of Forestry and Agroforestry (A.N. Bukeikhan KazRIFA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement the project titled “Investigation of the resistance of black saxaul (Haloxylon aphyllum) forms to gall-forming insects”. The research project is funded by the National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) of the Republic of Korea, as a part of the AFoCO-NIFoS collaboration.
Beginning in October 2020, the two-year project will study the resistance of specified black saxaul plants among species damaged by gall-forming insects. To achieve these objectives, researches will be conducted together with NIFoS to identify resistant plants and study their anatomical and morphological features, biochemical properties, and genetic structures. There are also plans to conduct seminars with the staff of regional forest institutions and work on a research article to be published in foreign and domestic scientific journals.
Among the types of sand forests, saxaul occupies the most. It is saxaul which forms a special zonal type of desert vegetation, the so-called saxaulniki (saxauls). Saxaul – the most important forest-forming species of deserts. The economic value and sand-strengthening role of saxaul are widely known.
The fauna of insect pests of saxaul is represented by a large number of multinivorous and specialized species that damage the roots, vegetative and generative organs. The nature of the responses of plants to damage by pests (e.g. formation of chemical, mechanical, and growth barriers; ability to regenerate damaged tissues and replace lost organs) plays an important role in the immunity of plants to insect pests. Therefore, a number of metabolites (alkaloids, glycosides, terpenes, saponins, etc.) have toxic effects on the digestive apparatus, endocrine, and other systems of insects and other plant pests.
The use of pest-resistant forms of saxaul is an essential part of an integrated plant protection system and must necessarily be one of the foundations of environmental protection, since it does not pose any danger to ecosystems and can be highly effective. Hence, understanding the factors manifesting individual plants’ resistance to damage by insects of gall formers will help us to improve the sanitary state of saxaul plants and increase its relevance.
Isolating economically valuable forms of saxaul that are not damaged by pests will be an initial stage for the establishment of sustainable plantations. The widespread planting of resistant saxauls will increase the productivity of plantations in the Aral Sea region. Valuable scientific observations from this project will also contribute to the reforestation of fields and pastures, the creation of green umbrellas, and the protection of settlements from drifting sand.
Contributed by Aidai Zhumasheva