A Public Lecture by Prof. Mark Tester on “Food Security in Perspective of Advances in Increasing the Salinity Tolerance of Crops”
15th of March, 2018 (11.00 - 12.00 p.m.)

Deadline for Applications: March 14, 2018

Venue: COMSTECH Secretariat, Islamabad


One-third of the world’s food is produced under irrigation, and this is directly threatened by increasing salinity, unsustainable current practices, particularly over-abstraction of water and poor land management. One way to address this threat of reduced amounts and quality of water is to develop systems for increasing our ability to use lower quality water, in particular saline water. Low cost partial desalination of brackish water, use of saline water for cooling greenhouses, and increases in the salinity tolerance of crops can all contribute to the development of a new saltwater-based agricultural system

Prof. Mark Tester leads a research group in which forward and reverse genetic approaches are used to understand and manipulate traits that contribute to salinity tolerance and improve crops such as barley and tomatoes. An immediate applied aim is to modify crop plants in order to increase productivity on such soils, with consequent improvement of yield in both developed and developing countries. The ultimate intellectual aim is to understand the control and co-ordination of whole plant function through processes occurring at the level of single cells, particularly through processes of long-distance communication within plants. Mark’s aspiration is to unlock seawater, by developing a new economically viable agricultural system where salt-tolerant crops are irrigated with partially desalinized seawater or brackish groundwater.

In this talk, examples will be given of recent advances in increasing the salinity tolerance of crops. These have been made by the use of forward genetics for discovery of genes related to salinity tolerance in barley and tomatoes. Rather than studying salinity tolerance as a single trait, we dissect salinity tolerance into a series of components that are hypothesized to contribute to overall salinity tolerance, and study each of these in their own right. Combining this physiological approach with the modern tools of genomics-powered genetics, we have real opportunities to make significant step changes in salinity tolerance of crops and thus contribute to increasing agricultural production in many regions, especially in the face of global environmental change

Over his career, primary funding has been provided by governmental and charitable organizations, but substantial funding from private companies has also been obtained. Internationally, his group is one of the leading laboratories on salinity research. His work is published in top journals.

Brief Profile of the Speaker:

Professor Mark Alfred Tester

Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Over 200 refereed papers have been published in international journals.
Citation indices, updated 08 Jan 2018
Web of Science indices - H index = 58, Total citations = 14,148
Google Scholar indices - H index = 71; i10-index = 141; Total citations = 23,463
Citations for 2016 = 2,888; Citations for 2017 = 2,829

Target Audience:

Students, Researchers and Faculty members as well as Professionals form the relevant departments are invited to attend the lecture.

Registration Process:

There is no registration fee for attending the lecture. However, interested candidates must fill the available registration form and submit it to ikramabbasi@comstech.org or comstech@comstech.org  by 14th of March, 2018.

Event Coordinator:

Mr. Ikram Abbasi
Program Manager, COMSTECH

Tel: +92-51-9220681-3
Fax: +92-51-9205264, +92-51-9220265
Email: ikramabbasi@comstech.org