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TAMARIX spp. - Ecology and Physiology of Mediterranean communities and provenances

The Mediterranean Basin (MB) is located in the transition zone between the region of the northern latitudes, where the present global warming is expected to gradually reduce winter snow precipitation and enhance early spring snow melting, and the relatively stable arid/desert desert belt, where extreme heat waves are a regular phenomenon. Due to this specific location, some Mediterranean zones have been exposed to frequent waves of extreme weather conditions, including many heat waves and severe droughts.
Water availability and quality are dominant factors that control plant productivity and sustainability in arid and saline soils. The vegetation of the MB has developed stress-adapted mechanisms to overcome changes in temperatures, drought, and salinity. These species are likely to be well adapted to future conditions caused by the global warming effects. Moreover, their naturally survival capacity and genetic biodiversity can be harnessed to sequester a significant part of the high atmospheric CO2 content by increasing their plantation in presently unutilized arid areas worldwide that might be irrigated by saline water or by reused urban and industrial water waste. In areas of particular natural values, as reserves and parks, this option should be oriented to protect and preserve the natural habitats and species biodiversity. In these areas, the reforestation of over-exploited soils should be made with local species in mixed plantations.
The main objective of this project is to assess the biodiversity of the Italians populations of Tamarix spp. for their conservation and to select plant for restoration of degraded and salty areas, for forestation and carbon sequestration in Mediterranean arid regions. Tamarix species plants are adapted to extreme conditions, such as drought, extreme temperatures, and increased salinization of soils and water. Unravelling the genetic biodiversity among closely related species that have developed stress tolerance mechanisms will allow to select the best plant material for forestation purposes relying on irrigation with saline, brackish or recycled water.