Thar Desert Bioresources: Significance, Conservation and Sustainable Management in Anthropocene

Sumitra Kumari Choudhary, Ashok Kumar Patel, Kheta Ram, Narpat S Shekhawat


‘Anthropocene’, the era of earth’s history during which human (Homo sapiens) have become a dominant geological force. The anthropogenic activities have irreversibly impacted the globe, the atmosphere, and therefore the climate system as a whole. The global warmings associated with climate changes and other constraints such as small landholdings, lower land productivity, water stress, especially in drylands increased vulnerabilities to the local inhabitants. Indian Thar Desert, a unique stressed ecosystem, harbours diverse life-forms (plants, animals and microbes) having acquired mechanisms of survival under fragile conditions (biotic and abiotic stress, especially recurring droughts). These extremes in the climatic, edaphic and topographic regimes provided the exceptional natural environmental conditions for origin, growth, adaptation and evolution of variety of life-forms. Desert specific species harbours traits/genes such as heat, drought, salt tolerance, etc. that may be important to answer the challenges being caused by anthropogenic disturbances. The natural resource management through agroecology and agroforestry systems practiced by the native people is the best option as an insurance in case of crop failure due to environmental circumstances. In this paper, we review the present scenario of biological diversity of desert, human induced/anthropogenic threats/constraints to arid/semi-arid ecosystem and geo-ecological parameters. The possible solutions to some of these problem through intervention of innovative technologies are also discussed.


Anthropocene, Biotechnological tools, Conservation, Fragile Ecosystem, Renewable Energy Sources, Thar Desert


Agarwal, T., Gupta, A.K., Patel, A.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2015. Micropropagation and validation of genetic homogeneity of Alhagi maurorum using SCoT, ISSR and RAPD markers. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 120(1), 313-323.

Arora, M., Siddiqui, A.A., Paliwal, S. and Sood, P. 2014. A phyto-pharmacological overview on Salvadora oleoides Decne. Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources, 5(3), 209-214.

Bhojwani, S.S. and Dantu, P.K. 2013. Plant tissue culture: an introductory text. Springer, New York.

Bhukya, M.N., Kumar, M. and Kant, A. 2021. Renewable Energy: Potential, Status, Targets and Challenges in Rajasthan. In: Journal of Physics: Conference Series. IOP Publishing, 1854(1), 012004.

Carey, J. 2016. Core concept: are we in the “Anthropocene”? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(15), 3908-3909.

Chand, S., Patidar, O.P., Chaudhary, R., Saroj, R., Chandra, K., Meena, V.K., Limbalkar, O.M., Patel, M.K., Pardeshi, P.P. and Vasisth, P. 2021. Rapeseed-Mustard Breeding in India: Scenario, Achievements and Research Needs. In: Brassica Breeding and Biotechnology. Intech Open. DOI:

Chauhan, S.S. 2003. Desertification control and management of land degradation in the Thar desert of India. Environmentalist, 23(3), 219-227.

Chlachula, J. 2021. Between Sand Dunes and Hamadas: Environmental Sustainability of the Thar Desert, West India. Sustainability, 13(7), 3602.

Choudhary, S.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2018. Physicochemical factors affecting micropropagation of Cucumis callosus (Rottler) Cogn.: an important arid fruit. In: In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, New York, USA: Springer.

Choudhary, S.K., Patel, A.K., Shekhawat, S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2017. An improved micropropagation system, ex vitro rooting and validation of genetic homogeneity in wild female Momordica dioica: an underutilized nutraceutical vegetable crop. Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants, 23(3), 713-722.

Choudhary, S.K., Shekhawat, S., Barupal, M., Kumar, M. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2021. Genetic diversity among different landraces of Pearl millet [Cenchrus americanus (L.) Morrone syn. Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.]. Vegetos, 34(2), 1-9.

Ciais, P., Sabine, C., Bala, G., Bopp, L., Brovkin, V., Canadell, J., Chhabra, A., DeFries, R., Galloway, J., Heimann, M. and Jones, C. 2014. Carbon and other biogeochemical cycles. Pp. 465-570, In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press.

Crutzen, P.J. 2002. Geology of mankind. Nature, 415, 23.

Crutzen, P.J. and Stoermer, E.F. 2013. The ‘Anthropocene’ (2000). pp 479-490. In: Robin, L., Sorlin, S. and Warde, P. (Eds.) The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change, New Haven: Yale University Press,

Davis, J., Moulton, A.A., Van Sant, L. and Williams, B. 2019. Anthropocene, capitalocene,…plantationocene?: A manifesto for ecological justice in an age of global crises. Geography Compass, 13(5), e12438.

Deora, N.S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 1995. Micropropagation of Capparis decidua (Forsk.) Edgew.—a tree of arid horticulture. Plant Cell Reports, 15(3), 278-281.

Dinesh, R.M., Patel, A.K., Vibha, J.B., Shekhawat, S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2019. Cloning of mature pomegranate (Punica granatum) cv. Jalore seedless via in vitro shoot production and ex vitro rooting. Vegetos, 32(2), 181-189.

Folke, C., Polasky, S., Rockström, J., Galaz, V., Westley, F., Lamont, M., Scheffer, M., Österblom, H., Carpenter, S.R., Chapin, F.S. and Seto, K.C. 2021. Our future in the Anthropocene biosphere. Ambio, 1-36.

Gehlot, R.K. and Kumari, V. 2018. Keystone Bioresources of Rajasthan Desert. Indian Forester, 144(10), 1021-1024.

Goyal, R.K. and Gaur, M. 2016. Water Resources and Surface Water Bodies in Hot Arid Zone. Remote Sensing for Natural Resources Management and Monitoring, 156.

Haraway, D. 2015. Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making kin. Environmental humanities, 6(1), 159-165.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2018. Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., Zhai, P., Pörtner, H.-O., Roberts, D., Skea, J., Shukla, P.R., Pirani, A., Moufouma-Okia, W., Péan, C., Pidcock, R., Connors, S., Matthews, J.B.R., Chen, Y., Zhou, X., Gomis, M.I., Lonnoy, E., Maycock, T., Tignor, M. and Waterfield, T. (Eds.)].

Jain, G. 2016. Biomass Power Generation: A frame work and study of current problems and future scope with special reference to Kota region of Rajasthan. International Journal of Science, Technology and Management, 5(4), 168-177.

Kumar, S., Whitbread, A. and Falk, T. 2017. Community led solutions for sustainable land management in western Rajasthan in India. Scaling up Sustainable Land Management and Restoration of Degraded Land, Global Land Outlook Working Paper, 17-19.

Lodha, D., Patel, A.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2015. A high-frequency in vitro multiplication, micromorphological studies and ex vitro rooting of Cadaba fruticosa (L.) Druce (Bahuguni): a multipurpose endangered medicinal shrub. Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants, 21(3), 407-415.

Lodha, D., Patel, A.K., Rai, M.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2014. In vitro plantlet regeneration and assessment of alkaloid contents from callus cultures of Ephedra foliata (Unthphog), a source of anti-asthmatic drugs. Acta physiologiae plantarum, 36(11), 3071-3079.

Malhi, Y., Roberts, J.T., Betts, R.A., Killeen, T.J., Li, W. and Nobre, C.A. 2008. Climate change, deforestation, and the fate of the Amazon. Science, 319(5860), 169-172.

Meena, R.S., Sharma, D., Rathore, R. 2014. The most promising solar hot spots in India development and policy: The Thar desert of Rajasthan. International Journal of Engineering Development and Research, 3(1), 74-79.

Moharana, P.C. 2017. B8: Geomorphological field guide book on Thar desert. Indian Institute of Geomorphologists, Allahabad, 1-46.

Moharana, P.C., Santra, P., Singh, D.V., Kumar, S., Goyal, R.K., Machiwal, D. and Yadav, O.P. 2016. ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur: Erosion processes and desertification in the Thar Desert of India.

Mukherjee, A., Velankar, A.D. and Kumara, H.N. 2017. Invasive Prosopis juliflora replacing the native floral community over three decades: a case study of a World Heritage Site, Keoladeo National Park, India. Biodiversity and Conservation, 26(12), 2839-2856.

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2012. OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050, OECD Publishing.

Olsson, P., Moore, M.L., Westley, F.R. and McCarthy, D.D. 2017. The concept of the Anthropocene as a game-changer: a new context for social innovation and transformations to sustainability. Ecology and Society, 22(2).

Paliwal, H. and Dave, V. 2021. Renewable energy sources in Rajasthan for sustainable development. In: IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science. IOP Publishing, 785(1), 012007.

Pandey, E., Sha, J. and Choudhary, S. 2010. Sedimentary cycles in the callovian-oxfordian of the Jaisalmer Basin, Rajasthan, western India. Volumina Jurassica, 8(8), 131-162.

Panwar, D., Patel, A.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2018. An improvised shoot amplification and ex vitro rooting method for offsite propagation of Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers: a multi-valued medicinal climber. Indian Journal of Plant Physiology, 23(1), 169-178.

Patel, A.K., Agarwal, T., Phulwaria, M., Kataria, V. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2014b. An efficient in vitro plant regeneration system from leaf of mature plant of Leptadenia reticulata (Jeewanti): a life giving endangered woody climber. Industrial Crops and Products, 52, 499-505.

Patel, A.K., Lodha, D. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2020. An improved micropropagation protocol for the ex situ conservation of Mitragyna parvifolia (Roxb.) Korth. (Rubiaceae): an endangered tree of pharmaceutical importance. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, 56(6), 817-826.

Patel, A.K., Lodha, D., Ram, K., Shekhawat, S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2016a. Evaluation of physiochemical factors affecting high-frequency plant regeneration of Blyttia spiralis (synonym: Pentatropis spiralis), a threatened climber of medicinal value. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, 52(1), 10-19.

Patel, A.K., Phulwaria, M., Rai, M.K., Gupta, A.K., Shekhawat, S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2014a. In vitro propagation and ex vitro rooting of Caralluma edulis (Edgew.) Benth. & Hook. f.: an endemic and endangered edible plant species of the Thar Desert. Scientia Horticulturae, 165, 175-180.

Patel, A.K., Ram, K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2016b. In vitro propagation and ex vitro rooting of Mitragyna parvifolia (Roxb.) Korth.: a threatened tree of medicinal values. In: In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, 52(4), 453-453, 233 Spring St, New York, 10013 USA: Springer.

Phulwaria, M., Patel, A.K., Rathore, J.S., Ram, K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2014. An improved micropropagation and assessment of genetic stability of micropropagated Salvadora oleoides using RAPD and ISSR markers. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 36(5), 1115-1122.

Phulwaria, M., Rai, M.K., Patel, A.K., Kataria, V. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2013. A genetically stable rooting protocol for propagating a threatened medicinal plant—Celastrus paniculatus. AoB Plants, 5, pls054

Phulwaria, M., Ram, K., Gahlot, P. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2011. Micropropagation of Salvadora persica-a tree of arid horticulture and forestry. New Forests, 42(3), 317-327.

Rai, M.K., Phulwaria, M., Gupta, A.K., Shekhawat, N.S. and Jaiswal, U. 2012. Genetic homogeneity of guava plants derived from somatic embryogenesis using SSR and ISSR markers. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 111(2), 259-264.

Rajasekharan, P.E. 2017. Conservation of bioresources. In: Bioresources and Bioprocess in Biotechnology. pp 25-47, Springer, Singapore.

Ram, K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2011. Micropropagation of commercially cultivated Henna (Lawsonia inermis) using nodal explants. Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants, 17(3), 281-289.

Ramarao, M.V.S., Sanjay, J., Krishnan, R., Mujumdar, M., Bazaz, A. and Revi, A. 2019. On observed aridity changes over the semiarid regions of India in a warming climate. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 136(1), 693-702.

Ranawat, P.S. 2020. Recognized geoheritage and geotourism sites in India. International Journal of Engineering Applied Sciences and Technology, 4(11), 224-231.

Rathore, J.S., Phulwaria, M., Rai, M.K., Shekhawat, S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2015. Use of liquid culture medium and ex vitro rooting for micropropagation of Acacia nilotica (L.) Del. ssp. cupressiformis. Indian Journal of Plant Physiology, 20(2), 172-176.

Rathore, J.S., Rai, M.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2012. Induction of somatic embryogenesis in gum arabic tree [Acacia senegal (L.) Willd.]. Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants, 18(4), 387-392.

Rathore, J.S., Rai, M.K., Phulwaria, M. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2014. A liquid culture system for improved micropropagation of mature Acacia nilotica (L.) Del. ssp. indica and ex vitro rooting. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India Section B: Biological Sciences, 84(1), 193-200.

Rathore, M. 2009. Nutrient content of important fruit trees from arid zone of Rajasthan. Journal of Horticulture and Forestry, 1(7), 103-108.

Rathore, T.S., Singh, R.P. and Shekhawat, N.S. 1991. Clonal propagation of desert teak (Tecomella undulata) through tissue culture. Plant Science, 79(2), 217-222.

Rathore, T.S., Singh, R.P., Deora, N.S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 1992. Clonal propagation of Zizyphus species through tissue culture. Scientia Horticulturae, 51(1-2), 165-168.

Ros, S.S. 2021. The age of man: a conceptual history of the Anthropocene (Bachelor's thesis). Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

Rowniyar, A.K. and Yadav, H. 2021. Production performance of cumin in Rajasthan. Jamshedpur Research Review, 44(1), 7-13.

Sharma, B.K., Singh, J., Kumar, A. and Kumawat, R.C. 2014. Performance and prospects of guar cultivation in Rajasthan. International Journal of Agricultural Science, 10(1), 201-206.

Sharma, S. and Sinha, S. 2019. Indian wind energy and its development-policies-barriers: an overview. Environmental and Sustainability Indicators, 1, 100003.

Sharma, V., Joshi, A., Ramawat, K.G. and Arora, J. 2017. Bioethanol production from halophytes of Thar desert: a “green gold”. pp 219-235, In: Environment at Crossroads: Challenges, Dynamics and Solutions, Haghshenass Publishing, Iran.

Shekhawat, N.S., Phulwaria, M., Harish, Gupta, A.K., Ram, K., Shekhawat, S., Vibha, J.B., Rai, M.K., Kataria, V., Kaur, G., Patel, A.K., Rathore, J.S. and Singh, R.P. 2014b. Biotechnology: applications for conservation and sustainable use of plants of fragile arid ecosystems. In: Fulekar, M.H. and Kale, R.K. (Eds.); Recent Trends in Life Sciences, 94-118.

Shekhawat, N.S., Rathore, M.S., Shekhawat, S., Choudhary, S.K., Phulwaria, M., Harish, Rai, M.K., Vibha, J.B., Rathore, N.S., Patel, A.K. and Kataria, V. 2014a. Micropropagation of Aloe vera for improvement and enhanced productivity. In: Tuteja, N. and Gill, S.S. (Eds.); Climate Change and Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance, First Edition. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.

Shekhawat, N.S., Rai, M.K., Phulwaria, M., Rathore, J.S., Gupta, A.K., Purohit, M., Patel, A.K., Kataria, V. and Shekhawat, S. 2014c. Tree biotechnology with special reference to species of fragile ecosystems and arid environments. pp 187-222, In: Ramawat, K.G., Mérillon, Jean-Michel, Ahuja, M.R. (Eds.); Tree Biotechnology, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Shekhawat, M.S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2011. Micropropagation of Arnebia hispidissima (Lehm). DC. and production of alkannin from callus and cell suspension culture. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 33(4), 1445-1450.

Shekhawat, M.S., Shekhawat, N.S., Ram, K., Phulwaria, M. and Gupta, A.K. 2011. High frequency plantlet regeneration from nodal segment culture of female Momordica dioica (Roxb.). Journal of Crop Science and Biotechnology, 14(2), 133-137.

Shekhawat, N.S., Phulwaria, M., Rai, M.K., Kataria, V., Shekhawat, S., Gupta, A.K., Rathore, N.S., Vyas, M., Rathore, N., Vibha, J.B. and Choudhary, S.K., Patel, A.K., Lodha, D. and Modi, R. 2012a. Bioresearches of fragile ecosystem/desert. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India, Section B: Biological Sciences, 82(2), 319-334.

Shekhawat, N.S., Rathore, T.S., Singh, R.P., Deora, N.S. and Rao, S.R. 1993. Factors affecting in vitro clonal propagation of Prosopis cineraria. Plant Growth Regulation, 12(3), 273-280.

Shekhawat, S., Choudhary, S.K., Gupta, A.K. and Shekhawat, N.S. 2013. Determination of genetic diversity of the Morinda tinctoria population in historical Mandore garden. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India, Section B: Biological Sciences, 83(3), 367-370.

Shekhawat, S., Shekhawat, N.S., Choudhary, S.K. and Vinod, K. 2012b. Peduncle, a potential source of competent cells for plant regeneration in pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). Phytomorphology, 62(1/2), 1-11.

Shetty, B.V. and Singh, V. 1993. Flora of Rajasthan, Vol 3. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, 1987–1993.

Singh, A.K. 2004. Endangered economic species of Indian desert. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 51(4), 371-380.

Singh, G., Nagora, P.R., Haksar, P. and Chauhan, A.R. 2021. Utilizing treated wastewater in tree plantation in Indian desert: part I–species suitability, plant growth and biomass production. International Journal of Phytoremediation, 1-11.

Singh, P.K. and Chudasama, H. 2021. Pathways for climate change adaptations in arid and semi-arid regions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 284, 124744.

Singhvi, A.K. and Krishnan, R. 2014. Past and the present climate of India. pp 15-23, In: Landscapes and landforms of India. Springer, Dordrecht.

Sinha, R.K. and Sinha, S. 2000. Desert management and desertification control (efforts towards ecological restoration, regeneration and rehabilitation of the great Indian desert "Thar". INA Shree Publishers, 338.

Soni, M.L., Yadava, N.D., Beniwal, R.K., Singh, J.P., Kumar, S. and Birbal 2013. Grass based strip cropping systems for controlling soil erosion and enhancing system productivity under drought situations of hot arid western Rajasthan. International Journal of Agricultural and Statistical Sciences, 9(2), 685-692.

Steffen, W., Rockström, J., Richardson, K., Lenton, T.M., Folke, C., Liverman, D., Summerhayes, C.P., Barnosky, A.D., Cornell, S.E., Crucifix, M. and Donges, J.F. 2018. Trajectories of the earth system in the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(33), 8252-8259.

Subbulakshmi, V., Sheetal, K.R., Renjith, P.S., Keerthika, A. and Gupta, D.K. 2018. NTFP based agroforestry to sustain income and employment generation activities of arid regions of Rajasthan. Jaya Publishing House, Delhi, 291-324.

UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) Report 2020. The great green wall implementation status and way ahead to 2030 advanced version. (; accessed on 12 July, 2021).

Varghese, N. and Singh, N.P. 2016. Linkages between land use changes, desertification and human development in the Thar desert region of India. Land Use Policy, 51, 18-25.

Vyas, N.L. and Kumar, A. 2002. Chilling a virus with milk: bridging the gap between farmers' knowledge and formal science. Farmer-led participatory research: cases from western India, 24-35.

Werden, L.K., Sugii, N.C., Weisenberger, L., Keir, M.J., Koob, G. and Zahawi, R.A. 2020. Ex situ conservation of threatened plant species in island biodiversity hotspots: a case study from Hawai ‘i. Biological Conservation, 243, 108435.

WMO (World Meteorological Organization) 2020. State of the Global Climate 2020 Provisional Report.

Xu, L. and Tan, J. 2020. Financial development, industrial structure and natural resource utilization efficiency in China. Resources Policy, 66, 101642.

Yusuf, A., Rathore, T.S. and Shekhawat, N.S. 1999. Micropropagation of Commiphora wightii (Arnott) Bhandari–A threatened medicinal plant of semi-arid region. Indian Journal of Plant Genetic Resources, 12(3), 371-375.

URL-1 (

URL-2 (

URL-3 (




URL-7 (

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

COPYRIGHT of this Journal vests fully with the National Instional Institute of Ecology. Any commercial use of the content on this site in any form is legally prohibited.