Program and Courses Offered

PGCDS (Post Graduate Certificate in Dryland Studies) Program

The following is a ‘List of the Courses’ that the 1st batch of students were required to complete; there may be addition of new courses or removal of some of the courses based on constructive feed-back, introspection and feasibility of curriculum delivery.

List of Courses under PGCDS Program

The course focuses on functioning of dryland environments globally; ecosystem structure and processes linked to anthropogenic activities, desertification, and climate change. Dryland functioning is discussed through various biological levels: from plant adaptations to arid environments, through vegetation patterns; up to the physical environment and the interactions with its biological components. There is an emphasis on how human employ and apply ecological principles to increase productivity in drylands, Aim of the module is to provide a firmer scientific basis to understand dryland functioning and sustainable human land-use. On successful completion of the module, the student should be able to understand the physical conditions that distinguish drylands from other environments along climatic gradients and their susceptibility to climate change and desertification; recognize plant physiological and morphological adaptations to water availability shortage and unpredictability, besides be familiar and understand basic concepts of System and Landscape Ecology and to be able to model ecological processes – conceptually. Further, to comprehend how the natural dryland ecosystem and its components function under restricted water availability; also to understand the environmental and ecological principles of human activities in drylands. To comprehend and conceptually analyze ecological or environmental case studies in drylands, presenting for example, an interaction between novel and natural ecosystems or human effects on the natural ecosystem.

The course will address various modern irrigation and fertilization (fertigation) methods and will provide tools to deal with problems associated with arid and semi-arid conditions (e.g., high water demand, saline water, etc). On successful completion of the module, one would understand the interactions between soil-plant-atmosphere and the irrigation system and sufficiently familiar with fertigation scheduling principles including devices that are currently used for irrigation scheduling. Also able to design a sprinkler and drip irrigation system as well as conduct an irrigation experiment vide designing a research project.

Water related challenges are raising concerns worldwide. These challenges are found at both ends of the pipe: the need to supply water in an adequate quality for human life and livelihood, and the need to prevent pollution from wastewater discharge. In this course, researchers from Ben Gurion University of the Negev and partners from leading academic institutes, Yale and Northwestern, will coherently discuss “burning” water issues and reveal current technologies that can alleviate water shortage globally. Pollution sources and remediation approaches of surface and subsurface water will be addressed as well as the approaches to wastewater treatment and safe reuse.

This course will provide the basic knowledge of plant cytogenetics and reproductive mechanisms in flowering plants; including cell cycle, cell division, mitosis, miosis and the genetic control of meiosis; chromosome structure and functions, and polyploidization, pollination strategies, pollen tube growth and guidance, mechanisms of male sterility and floral sex determination, hormones and reproduction self-incompatibility systems, fertilization, apomixis and parthenocarpic fruit development.

Carbon metabolism is a basic process essential for plants growth and survival. Carbon metabolism encompasses carbon assimilation through photosynthesis, consumption through respiration and photorespiration and allocation to different metabolic pools. The course will summarize most of these processes from the ecosystem to the biochemical levels with a focus on plant adaptation and acclimation to changing environments.

The course focuses on the developing scientific discipline of AgroEcology emphasizing research and case studies in drylands. Along with establishing the ecological scientific basis and background for agroecology framework, the course presents the principles and practices of agroecology that promote resilient and productive agricultural systems, interacting compatibly with the environment. Agroforestry and Silvopastoral Systems are presented and discussed within AgroEcology discipline and framework. Demonstration of the uniqueness of AgroEcology in drylands and to provide conceptual and basic measurement tools to experimentally study AgroEcology systems in drylands. Also to understand the interactions and possibility of enhanced harmonization between the environment and agricultural systems. Besides, to comprehend the environmental conditions which challenge AgroEcology in drylands and the corresponding practices. Further, to use and calculate basic indices of biodiversity and productivity. Posing a research question related to the AgroEcology framework and to design a research approach is included too.

The aim of the course is to provide a solid understanding of the concepts and applications of geographical information systems and science (GIS), by focusing on the use of GIS for scientific inquiry. To gain hands-on experience with the use of advanced GIS Software and technology for quantitative spatial analysis, modeling and visualization. Case studies from various environmental research domains are used as demonstrations to get a wide range of GIS application.

The course will consist of lessons and includes an exposure to algae-growing company. The course will have joint participation of Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory (MBL) Scientists. It will cover the major aspects of microalgal biology (ecology, physiology, biochemistry, stress response) and biotechnology (cultivation strategies, metabolic engineering and applications).

As the demand to aquaculture products are rising while world fishers is in decline, aquaculture has been a fast growing industry in the last few decades and is yet to expand. In the present course practical aspects and theoretical background of major topics in fish culture, will be studies. Production of food and ornamental fish will be addressed. This is an introductory course that is geared for students with interest in aquaculture.

This course will highlight epigenetic aspects in plant response to stress and the potential use of epigenetics in plant breeding. It aims at delivering the basic tools to understand the epigenetic constraints imposed over the genetic information that allow genes to be expressed or suppressed. It will highlight the dynamic epigenetic modifications of DNA and histone proteins as fundamental mechanisms driving plant growth and development and particularly the response of plants to the changing biotic and abiotic environment. How epigenetic landscapes of the genome are changed to regulate the genome structure and function. The complexity of epigenetic mechanisms underlying plant response and tolerance to stress and how epigenetic variations can be exploited to produce desired traits is the major aim of the module.

The course covers the interaction between the environment, practices in the field and genetics on the metabolism of fruits. The student will be introduced to fruit development, its regulation, metabolic processes related to it, plant central and secondary metabolic pathways in. relation to fruit quality.

Aim of the module is to describe the interaction between rainfall, soil and crop characteristics in dry areas in which runoff can be generated, with the objective to designate the physical aspects of water movement in the soil crop atmosphere continuum in agroforestry systems irrigated with runoff water. The learning outcomes will include estimation of potentially available runoff water, design field set-up to determine the specific rainfall/runoff relations, determine the relative sizes of the generating and runoff receiving areas for the specific crop/forest system and measurement. The content/schedule consist study of soil particle size distribution and infiltration, water movement in soils; surface properties, crusting; runoff under controlled conditions; rain measurement, analysis, rainfall simulators; desertification control, etc.

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