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2025 Speakers

Harnessing controlled environment systems for enhanced production of medicinal plants

Ajwal Dsouza, Speaker at Plant Biology Conferences
University of Guelph, Canada
Title : Harnessing controlled environment systems for enhanced production of medicinal plants

Abstract:

Medicinal plants (MPs) are valued for their contributions to human health. However, the growing demand for MPs and the concerns regarding their quality and sustainability have prompted the reassessment of conventional production practices. Controlled environment cropping systems, such as vertical farms, offer a transformative approach to MP production. By enabling precise control over environment factors, such as light, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity, nutrients, and airflow, controlled environments can improve the consistency, concentration, and yield of bioactive phytochemicals in MPs. This presentation explores the potential of controlled environment systems for enhancing MP production. First, I will describe how controlled environments can overcome the limitations of conventional production in improving the quality of MP. Next, I will propose strategies based on plant physiology to manipulate environment conditions for enhancing the levels of bioactive compounds in plants. These strategies include improving photosynthetic carbon assimilation, light spectrum signalling, purposeful stress elicitation, and chronoculture. I will describe the underlying mechanisms and practical applications of these strategies. Finally, I will highlight the major knowledge gaps and challenges that limit the application of controlled environments, and discuss future research directions.

Audience Takeaway:

  • This presentation will outline the basic principles of environment manipulation to improve the value and quality of medicinal plants in controlled environment plant production system. I will discuss the practical strategies through the lens of plant physiology and plant-environment interaction.
  • The audience can incorporate and test these strategies in their research work and for commercial production of medicinal plants.
  • Growing medicinal plants in controlled environment systems (vertical farms or plant factories) is relatively novel with significant potential. This talk is aimed to spur research interest towards advancing this field.

 

Biography:

Ajwal is a PhD candidate at the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF), University of Guelph. His doctoral research focuses on understanding the specialized metabolic responses of medicinal plants in controlled environment systems under LED lighting. He completed his BSc in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, India. Later, he joined CESRF and obtained an MSc in Environmental Sciences under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Graham. Ajwal’s broader research interests lie in the areas of controlled environment agriculture, plant physiology, plant secondary metabolism, and space agriculture.

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