In Thailand, IRD focuses its research projects on 3 priorities addressing the most pressing challenges of sustainable development: the environment, through the study of ecosystems, natural resources and the impact of human activities; health, with research on infectious, vector-borne and chronic diseases affecting people living in Thailand; and society by looking at urban dynamics, governance and the social aspects of environmental issues.
Most often adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, these research projects rely on joint research units and various partnership tools offered by IRD. They are designed to strengthen South-North scientific cooperation and facilitate exchanges between teams working on sustainability science at the international level.
Main research projects
Projects dealing with environmental and natural resources issues
Use of Machine Learning to predict and upscale Biodiversity Metrics using remote sensing data
Understanding variations in the diversity and composition of tropical tree species on a large scale is extremely difficult from ground level. New remote sensing technologies are promising tools for mapping this diversity on a large scale, especially over large areas inaccessible in dense tropical forests. This project aims at assessing the capacity of airborne data acquired over Khao Yai National Park to map tree diversity at the landscape scale. This mapping will then be used to extrapolate large-scale diversity estimates using satellite data. More specifically, the objective is to acquire LiDAR (laser) and hyperspectral (using hundreds of wavelengths) data by combining them with fine field measurements This project will lead to a better understanding of the spatial distribution of forest diversity in tropical forests and will enable the implementation of a methodology to monitor the biodiversity of these hyper-diverse ecosystems on a large scale.
Partners: National Biobank of Thailand (NBT), University of Kasetsart
To find out more:
Maxime Réjou-Méchain: email@example.com
BIMODAL :Modelling approaches to biodiversity and its interactions with human populations, 2019-2021
The concern about biodiversity has taken a significant turn in May 2019 following the Paris summit of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which has been widely covered by the media all over the world. It is now clear that our ability to predict the future changes in biodiversity in response to environmental changes is one of the keys to sustainable development. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) emphasize the urgent need to develop research to improve our understanding on the dynamics and the mechanisms behind the loss of natural habitats and how these interact with human populations.
Southeast Asia is a singular region for biodiversity and its conservation. This region harbours some of the richest ecosystems on Earth while hosting some of the most populated areas and largest urban zones in the world. SEA experienced the highest rate of recent deforestation among all continents.
The BIMODAL project aims at (i) develop forefront research on biodiversity with the aim to target the sustainable conservation of high-valued species (e.g., patrimonial species, or flagship species), (ii) implement open-source software platforms to monitor and analyse biodiversity data in real-time, and (iii) develop national Thai capacities in the development and use of open-source software in bioinformatics.
The research activities under the BIMODAL project pursue four main objectives: (i) Assess and quantify changes in land use at different scales from Eastern Thailand to SEA and their consequences on biodiversity; (ii) Use satellite data from the Sentinel series to quantify changes in land cover and land use in Eastern Thailand in real-time; (iii) Identify areas of “wilderness” for the conservation of endangered species of predators with a focus on the fishing cat in Thailand, and (iv) Develop open-source software for biodiversity modelling and bioinformatics methods and contribute to its use in the Thai scientific community.
UMR : ISEM (Université de Montpellier/CNRS/IRD/EPHE)
Main partner : Université de Burapha
To find out more:
Emmanuel Paradis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Piyapong C., Tattoni C., Ciolli M., Dembski S. & Paradis E. 2020. Modelling the geographical distributions of one native and two introduced species of crayfish in the French Alps. Ecological Informatics 60: 101172. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoinf.2020.101172.
SEAWEED : Soil Erosion in Agricultural Watersheds: how can gullies be potential corridors of biodiversity? 2018-2019
With this project, the goal is to study gully erosion in agricultural watersheds and its link to biodiversity. Researchers specifically asked the question: What are the processes and factors that influence seed distribution, soil properties and soil and nutrient losses along a catena of steep slopes agricultural watershed? Their work covered five main topics as follow: 1) Soil and nutrient losses by runoff along the catena 2) Soil seed bank and seed rain 3) Soil water infiltration and soil macrofauna 4) Seed movement and soil loss by rainfall simulation 5) Seed movement under natural rainfall.
During the first phase of the project, clear differences along the catena were observed on soil properties, soil and nutrient losses and seed bank. To restore greater biodiversity and limit soil erosion, landscape management considering catena properties would be helpful on steep slopes.
UMR : IESS-Paris, ECO&SOLS, LISAH
Partners: Faculty of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Naresuan University – Université de Tours, école Polytech – Land Development Department.
To find out more:
1. Anusorn K, Pansak W, Grellier S, Janeau, JL and Intanon S. 2019. Weed seed removal and soil losses by runoff at hillslope scale in maize production, Nan Province. Agricultural Science Journal. 50 (Suppl.):66-71. [in Thai]
2. Rodprai, C., Phiokham, P., Khamkajorn, T., Takrattanasaran, N., Grellier, S., Janeau, J L., Intanon, S., and Pansak, W. 2019. Characterization and Classification of Soils along the Toposequence in Hillside Maize Cropping: A Case Study in Nan Province. Agricultural Science Journal. 50 (Suppl.):66-71. [in Thai]
M-TROPICS: Soil erosion Observatory in South-East Asian tropical watersheds, 2000-2019
MSEC is a network of three agricultural headwater catchments representative of the sloping lands of South-East Asia (Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam). It was launched in 1998, and started collecting data since 2000 on climate, land use, agricultural practices, stream discharge, suspended and bedload
sediment yields. MSEC uses a uniform set of tools, methods, and devices. Each MSEC catchment nests several monitored sub-catchments.
During its first phase (1998-2002), MSEC sought (i) to quantify erosion in small catchments cultivated according to local agricultural practices that were representative of those areas, excluding modern industrial farming, and (ii) to test alternative farming practices that would decrease land degradation and improve household livelihoods for communities inhabiting sloping lands and mountainous regions.
A second phase (2003-2010) of MSEC, supported by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), operated in Indonesia (until 2005), Lao PDR, the Philippines (until 2005), Thailand and Vietnam with national partners. The ultimate goal of this phase was to achieve sustainable development of watersheds by addressing the twin objectives of conserving resources and underpinning food security.
The IRD and its partners have then initiated a third phase (2011-2015): MSEC joined the French Catchment Network (SOERE RBV) and the International Critical Zone Exploration Network (CZEN). The Management of Soil Erosion Consortium was renamed Multi-Scale Environmental Changes in order to underline the multiscale environmental approach of processes impacted by global changes.
After evaluation of the SOERE RBV and MSEC in 2015, a fourth phase (2016-2020) is being planned, by joining both MSEC and BVET into a single CZO named Multiscale TROPIcal CatchmentS (M-TROPICS).
UMR: iESS-Paris et Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (GET)
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP WPC), Thailand.
Land Development Department (LDD), Thailand.
Funding: INSU – IRD – DNP WPC – Land Development Department
To find out more:
M-TROPICS Project's Website https://mtropics.obs-mip.fr/natural-environment/thailand/
1. Grellier, S., Seyler, P., Petitjean, C., Bonnet, M.P., Thothong, W., Janeau, J.-L., 2015. Heavy metals contamination in the ecosystem of Mae Thang reservoir in Northern Thailand. SocioEcological Dimensions of Infectious Diseases in Southeast Asia. Morand S. (ed.), Dujardin JeanPierre (ed.), Lefait-Robin R. (ed.), Apiwathnasorn C. (ed.), pp. 57–74.
2. Herbreteau, V., Tantrakarnapa, K., Khaungaew, W., Janeau, J.-L., 2015. Water and health : what is the risk and visible burden of the exposure to environmental contaminations ? : insights from a questionnaire-based survey in Northern Thailand, in: Socio-Ecological Dimensions of Infectious Diseases in Southeast Asia. Morand S. (ed.), Dujardin Jean-Pierre (ed.), Lefait-Robin R. (ed.), Apiwathnasorn C. (ed.), pp. 75–88.
Projects addressing major health topics
BioVectrol: Biology and control of mosquitoes, vectors of pathogenic agents in Thailand
Control of vector-borne diseases is a public health priority in Thailand, especially the control of malaria, dengue fever and Japanese Encephalitis (JE). These diseases have one thing in common, the transmission of their pathogens (parasites or viruses) necessarily passes through a mosquito vector.
These mosquitoes belong to different genera, Anopheles, Aedes and Culex, respectively responsible for the transmission of the diseases cited above. Since there is either no vaccine available for these diseases or the vaccine has low efficacy (JE), vector control is the most effective approach for their
control. However, before implementing appropriate vector control strategies, a good understanding of the entomo-epidemiological context is necessary.
Thus, the collaboration over the past 15 years with the Medical Entomology Team of Kasetsart University (KU) has allowed us to work on 6 lines of research ranging from molecular species identification to vector control, along with the study of their vectorial capacity, behaviour and geographic distribution (see diagram). This work is being developed more widely within an Asian network (Cambodia, China, Indonesia), whose epicentre is Thailand, which has provided relevant and useful data to local and national decision-makers for better management of vector-borne diseases.
Partners: Dpt Entomology, Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University (KU) - Dpt. Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University (MU)
- European & French: Projet Européen MALVECASIA (2002-06), PHC Siam (2009-10 et 2015-16), Programme Bio-Asie (2013-15), JEAI BioVecThai (2012-15), Scholarships Erasmus Mundus (2012-14) and Panacea (2013-14), ARTS Biomérieux/IRD (2014-2017).
- Thai: Thai Research Fund (TRF), Golden Royal Jubilee scholarships, International Research Network (IRN).
To find out more:
Sylvie Manguin: email@example.com
Theeraphap Chareonviriyaphap: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Tainchum K, Dupont C, Chareonviriyaphap T, Jumas-Bilak E, Bangs MJ, Manguin S. 2020. Bacterial Microbiome in Wild-Caught Anopheles Mosquitoes in Western Thailand. Front Microbiol. 2020;11:965. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00965
2. Nararak J, Giorgio CD, Sukkanon C, Mahiou-Leddet V, Ollivier E, Manguin S, Chareonviriyaphap T. 2020. Excito-repellency and biological safety of β-caryophyllene oxide against Aedes albopictus and Anopheles dirus (Diptera: Culicidae). Acta Trop. 2020;210:105556. DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2020.105556
COVIDTestTH: Covid-19 and rapid deployment of diagnostic tools and strategies for communities (2020-2021)
From April 2020, the AMS-PHPT collaboration has developed and implemented a sampling and diagnostic system for infection by SARS-CoV-2, the agent responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The first step is to take a nose and throat sample under conditions that guarantee the safety of operators and other users in the event that an infected person was to come for testing. Several approaches have been developed:
- A web-based appointment system was created based on the one used for the Napneung project to limit the presence of several potentially infected persons at the testing site.
- Several safe sample collection systems limiting contact: car, cabin and mobile unit.
- Results delivered by mobile phone via SMS.
The laboratory where the virological tests are carried out has been approved by the Department of Medical Sciences (DMSc) of the Thai Ministry of Public Health and is involved in the quality control of the DMSc, thus meeting the quality criteria that ensure that the results are reliable.
This system was rapidly deployed at several sites in Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Phayao .In addition, the use of a mobile sampling unit enabled different communities to be tested rapidly.
Partners: Chiang Mai University, Phayao University.
Funding: IRD, Expertise France, the Francophone University Agency (AUF), Thailand One Health University Network (THOHUN), USAID and private donations.
To find out more
DisCoVer: Disentangling the SARS-CoV2 Origins : Emergence & Reservoir, 2020-2022
Preliminary investigations on available samples collected in 2013 gave a mean nucleotide identity of 96% with the genome of a Sarbecovirus (genus Betacoronavirus) of a Rhinolophidae bat specimen. Despite these announcements, the most recent and direct ancestor of the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be discovered and the natural history of its emergence remains to be elucidated. This brings both the WHO and the French National Agency for Research (ANR) to list the quest for the reservoir and the natural history of the emergence as a top priority.
DisCoVER aims at answering the question of the origin of SARS-CoV by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of experts in the field from the Caen University, IRD, CNRS, Kasetsart University, Mahidol University and Center of Infectiology Lao Christophe Mérieux. The main objective of the project is to track the origin of SARS-CoV2 in natural settings sharing biogeographical and socio-ecological features with South-Western China (northern regions of Thailand and Lao PDR). The aim is to characterize the SARS-CoV2 natural cycle and the modalities of its emergence in humans. The zoonotic/emergence risk of SARS-CoV2-related Sarbecovirus members infecting wild animals in northern Southeast Asia will be estimated using a model that will integrate phylodynamic data/analyses with socio-ecological factors to develop real strategies for anticipation and prevention of future emergence.
UMR: MIVEGEC (IRD-CNRS-Université de Montpellier)
Partner Institutions: University of Caen Normandie-CHU Caen, Kasertsart (Faculty veterinary technology) and Mahidol Universities (Thailand)
Thai research partners: Sathaporn Jittapalapong (Dean Faculty), Anamika Kritiyakan, Chuanphot Thinphovong (Kasetsart University),
IRD researchers involved in the project
Eric Deharo (IRD Represnetative in Laos): email@example.com
Sabrina Locatelli: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodolphe Hamel: email@example.com
Emmanuel Paradis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Funding: Flash call COVID-19 from the French National Research Agency (ANR)
To find out more:
INGENIOUS: Emerging avian virus screening in Southeast Asia, 2020-2022
Located in the heart of South-East Asia, Thailand is largely covered with forests and rural areas interspersed with urbanized areas and thus offers a suitable study site to assess factors involved in mosquito-borne virus emergence and circulation. Dengue virus (DENV) and Japanese Encephalitis virus (JEV) are actively circulating in the country as well as less known mosquito-borne flaviviruses, such as the Tembusu virus (TMUV) which was recently described as a potential zoonotic emerging virus.
This research project aims to investigate the presence of potential emerging MBVs associated with birds, in and nearby domestic poultry farms in rural and urban areas, with a specific focus on TMUV. Paired with screenings of animal samples, we will use an innovative strategy, called molecular xenomonitorring, based on virus detection on trapped mosquito excreta using molecular techniques. 3D-printing will be used to modify commercial mosquito trap in order to screen the presence of MBVs at low cost on a large scale. All investigation will be conducted in close collaboration with Thai researcher partners located in different places in Thailand.
This project can bring a new perspective on bird-associated MBV ecology in Asia and identify factors responsible for the spillover of these viruses in the human population. We expect that results obtained in this exploratory project will provide new information on the bio-diversities and human activities impact on mosquito-borne viruses in Thailand and will also supplement ecological data obtained through the program ANR “FutureHealthSEA” led by Dr Morand.
UMR: MIVGEC (IRD-CNRS-UM), ISEM (Dr Serge Morand, IRD-CNRS-CIRAD, hosted by Kasetsart University)
Partners: Walaïlak University (Dr Jiraporn Jaroenpool, Medical Technology Dpt), University of Mahidol (Dr Ronald Vargas, Tropical Medecine Faculty, Medical Entomology Dpt), IRBA (Institut de Recherche Biomédicale des Armées, Dr Albin Fontaine, Parasitology and Entomology unit(UPE))
Funding: Labex CEMEB (University of Montpellier), https://www.labex-cemeb.org/en/exploratory-research-projects
To find out more
iTAP program: Eliminating mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B virus (2012-2022)
Hepatitis B virus infects the liver and causes liver damage with a risk of fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer in adulthood. Perinatal transmission is the number one source of new infections worldwide. Stopping this transmission is needed to eliminate hepatitis B infections, and this is therefore a priority for the CMU-IRD collaboration.
In a first clinical trial, iTAP-1, women with HBV infection took tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) once a day from 28 weeks’ pregnancy until 2 months postpartum. None of their infants were infected. The tolerance of TDF was excellent for the mothers and for the infants. In this clinical trial, all infants received both hepatitis B vaccine and immune globulin. However, the price of immunoglobulin is high and it is very difficult to maintain stocks outside of important health centers.
A second trial, iTAP-2, ongoing, aims at determining whether immune globulin is needed when mothers receive TDF as in iTAP-1. The results of this study are expected in Q2-2022.
- iTAP-1 results: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1708131 i
- iTAP-2 study: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03343431
Partners: Chiang Mai University- CMU-IRD collaboration
Funding: NIH 5R01HD092527
To find out more
Gonzague Jourdain : email@example.com
NAPNEUNG: optimising HIV testing, 2015-2019 (first phase), 2019-2022 (second phase)
The number of HIV-infected people who know their HIV status and of those uninfected but at high risk of infection using appropriate prevention methods is still far too low to defeat the epidemic. The number of HIV-infected people who know their HIV status and of those uninfected but at high risk of infection using appropriate prevention methods is still far too low to defeat the epidemic. Effective interventions do exist and are affordable. Insufficient use of testing and prevention services is, therefore, a major problem. Napneung is an interventional research programme developed by the CMU-IRD collaboration and aimed at evaluating strategies to optimise the use of these services.
During Napneung's first phase, awareness-raising methods targeting people at risk were developed (social media, field interventions). More than 7,000 screening sessions were carried out. In addition, retention strategies in screening and prevention services for people at high risk of HIV infection were evaluated using clinical research methods such as randomised controlled trials. During Napneung's first phase, awareness-raising methods targeting people at risk were developed (social media, field interventions). More than 7,000 screening sessions were carried out. In addition, retention strategies in screening and prevention services for people at high risk of HIV infection were evaluated using clinical research methods such as randomised controlled trials. This showed that computer-assisted counselling is well received and reduces the time spent on counselling without reducing the proportion of users who subsequently come for re-testing, the educational value of the counselling, or the likelihood of risky sexual behaviour. Furthermore, interventions as simple, easy to implement and affordable as booking an appointment and sending a reminder one week in advance can significantly increase follow-up for people at high risk of infection.
The second phase - currently ongoing - aims at studying the requirements for implementing and integrating widespread access to quality HIV prevention and testing services into the existing health system in medium-sized cities in Thailand. The project is evaluating the use of supervised self-tests, a computer-based counselling programme and an online appointment system. All users are also tested for syphilis and viral hepatitis B and C, and for those at risk for other STIs. Sub-studies are dedicated to these three infections
Partners: Chiang Mai University, Phayao University, Ministry of Public Health in Thailand, public hospitals in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao and Lampang, organizations supporting people affected by HIV or viral hepatitis.
- First phase: 5% Initiative, Expertise France (14SANIN204). Amount: €632,705.09.
- Second phase: 5% Initiative, Expertise France (18SANIN210). Amount : 1,384,938.03 €.
To find out more
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/napneung/
ClinicalTrials.gov : https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02752152 (first phase),
https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04585165 (second phase)
Latest published articles:
QUALI-DEC: QUALIty DECision-making by women and providers for appropriate use of caesarean section, 2020-2025
Overuse of caesarean section (C-section) has adverse consequences on maternal and child health. It also deviates essential resources worldwide and hinders universal access to healthcare services. QUALI-DEC project aims at developing and evaluating a strategy
to implement non-clinical interventions and reduce unnecessary C-sections in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Thailand and Vietnam.
This strategy combines four active ingredients:
- opinion leaders to implement evidence-based clinical guidelines,
- caesarean audits and feedback to help providersidentify potentially avoidable C-sections,
- a decision-analysis tool to empower women for better decision-making on mode of delivery,
- the implementation of WHO recommendations on companionship during labour to support women during vaginal birth.
The project promotes the engagement of stakeholders at all levels (policymakers, health providers and end-users i.e. women) from the very start of the project to implement intervention components, which take into account the local context and to ensure a maximisation of the expected impacts. To improve the quality of implementation and use of evidence, knowledge transfer activities will be implemented.The evaluation will examine physical and psycho-social effects of the strategy and will highlight the interdependent relationship between maternal and child outcomes related to overuse of C-section. Particular attention will be given to equity issues and gender considerations in the interpretation of results.
Overall, our project will improve appropriate use of C-sections and will address several SDG targets including
improving maternal and neonatal health and reducing inequalities within and between countries.
UMR 196 - CEPED
Partners : Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), University College Dublin - National University of Ireland, World Health Organization (Switzerland), Centro Rosarino de Estudios Perinatales Asociacion (Argentina), Khon Kaen University, Fundacio Blanquerna (Spain), Centre national de recherche scientifique et technologique - Institut de Recherche en sciences de la santé (Burkina Faso), Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine (Vietnam)
3 997 295 €
- European Commission (Horizon 2020 programme)
To find out more
Myriam De Loenzien
ZIKAHOST: The host factors of ZIKA virus neuro-pathogenesis, 2018-2022
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne Flavivirus that causes Zika disease characterized by fever, rash, arthralgia and conjunctivitis which, given the rapid worldwide spread of the virus, is now considered an emerging infectious disease. Of particular concern are recent reports of neurological complications, such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome and congenital microcephaly associated with Zika disease. To date no strategies for ZIKV control are available, hence the urgency to initiate the development of antiviral strategies.The partners of the ZIKAHOST proposal consortium were the first to explore and to report on the biology of ZIKV.
ZIKAHOST first findings show that ZIKV modulates gene expression in hNPC involved in neurogenesis dependent on the nature of the viral strain. At present, the precise molecular mechanisms permitting ZIKV to escape the host antiviral response in human brain cells remain to be determined. In addition, many questions remain unanswered regarding the complications caused by different primary isolates of ZIKV. The specific aims
of the ZIKAHOST consortium are: 1) To identify key entry factors involved in ZIKV infection and to determine their involvement in ZIKV neurotropism 2) To determine the cellular responses of the human brain cells to ZIKV infection 3) To characterize the different steps of ZIKV-induced brain injury in the developing human brain cells and tissue. This project will be crucial for a better understanding of how ZIKV hijacks cellular functions and is able to avoid antiviral mechanisms in human brain cells and tissue. Future findings should provide significant insights into ZIKV pathogenesis and will uncover host factors that might serve as therapeutic targets to block ZIKV infection.
UMR: MIVEGEC, (Principal Investigator, Dr. Dorothée Missé, France), INSERM UMR 7212 (Dr Ali Amara, France), and INSERM U1141 (Dr Pierre Gressens, France)
Partners: Department of Clinical Microbiology and Applied Technology Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University (Dr Sineewanlaya Wichit, IRD Partner, Thailand).
- ANR Générique: https://anr.fr/Project-ANR-17-CE15-0029
- Thailand Research Fund (TRF) (grant no. MRG6280009) PI: Dr Wichit Sineewanlaya
- PHC-SIAM: 2021-2022 The Host factors of Zika virus neuro-pathogenesis (PI France: Dorothée Missé, PI Thailand: Sineewanlaya Wichit)
To find out more
Latest published articles:
1. Wichit S, Hamel R, Zanzoni A, Diop F, Cribier A, Talignani L, Diack A, Ferraris P, Liegeois F, Urbach S, Ekchariyawat P, Merits A, Yssel H, Benkirane M, Missé D. SAMHD1 Enhances Chikungunya and Zika Virus Replication in Human Skin Fibroblasts. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Apr 5;20(7):1695. DOI: 10.3390/ijms20071695.
2. Wichit, S., Hamel, R., Yainoy, S., Gumpangseth, N., Panich, S., Phuadraksa, T., Saetear, P., Monteil, A., Morales Vargas, R., & Missé, D. (2019). Interferon-inducible protein (IFI) 16 regulates Chikungunya and Zika virus infection in human skin fibroblasts. EXCLI journal, 18, 467–476. DOI: 10.17179/excli2019-1271
Humanities and social sciences projects
HAZE : Socio-ecological drivers and consequences of air pollution in Northern Thailand, 2018-2022
During the dry season, between February and April, a thick cloud of pollution covers Chiang Mai (as well as much of South and Southeast Asia but with variations in timing and intensity), causing many health (respiratory diseases) and economic problems (reduced tourist numbers, disruption of air traffic). Contrary to the physicochemical and biophysical aspects (absence of rainfall in the dry season, temperature inversion, biomass combustion in particular), the social and economic factors at the origin of this phenomenon have not (or little) been studied for the moment.
Within the framework of a collaborative project, we show that this cloud of pollution is also a social production: customary uses of fire for the management of forests and fields, rapid transitions to market agriculture, rural exodus, second homes in the countryside and development of the tourist economy etc. All these elements contribute to the constitution of “narratives” (knowledge, stories and representations) about the environment which are an integral part of the problem of air pollution: they question its antiquity, reality and extent; they frequently point the finger at those responsible, with the consequence of reinforcing divisions, real or imagined, between ethnic groups, social classes or between urban and rural areas; finally, they are taken up, in whole or in part, by local decision-makers and directly influence environmental policies.
UMR: PALOC (IRD/MNHN)
Partners: University of Hawai’I at Manoa, Chiang Mai University
To find out more:
1. Mostafanezhad M, Evrard, O. 2020. Chronopolitics of crisis: A historical political ecology of seasonal air pollution in northern Thailand. Geoforum. ISSN 0016-7185. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.05.011.
2. Olivier Evrard et Mary Mostafanezhad, « La pollution de l’air en Thaïlande du Nord : d’un phénomène saisonnier à une crise écologique », Moussons, 34 | 2019, 49-69. DOI: 10.4000/moussons.5310
International Joint Laboratories (LMI)
Research programmes jointly built and co-directed by IRD and its local partners (universities and research institutes) around a common scientific theme and platform, LMIs project aims at developing and consolidating multidisciplinary research by eventually becoming (or integrating into) a sustainable operational research structure under the responsibility of the partner country. It can be bilateral or regional.
In Thailand, a regional LMI is currently active:
- LMI LUSES - An International joint laboratory on the impacts of rapid land-use change on soil ecosystem services.
LMI LUSES is a joint research and training programme at the regional level, carried out by IRD and universities and research institutes in the South-East Asian region.
The research projects implemented within the framework of LUSES focus on issues related to the agricultural context in South-East Asia, in particular the understanding of the evolution of social and agricultural systems. Based on biophysical and socio-economic approaches, LUSES intends to promote scientific collaborations at regional and international levels, and capacity building in fields linked to the impact of land-use change on soil ecological services. The knowledge and skills gained from LUSES will support the sustainable management of the region's ever-changing agrosystems.
Young teams associated with IRD
A JEAI aims at helping a group of Southern researchers to form a team by working together on a research and education project. Working closely with an IRD research unit, the project must be a catalyst for the JEAI to become a recognised and robust team in its field. The partnership facilitates the integration of young teams into national and international scientific networks.
In Thailand, the JEAI SymbiTrop has been active since 2018:
- JEAI SymbiTrop - Symbiosis for tropical legumes
Nitrogen is an essential element of plant growth. But despite its abundance in the atmosphere (79%), most plants are unable to absorb it in this form. Some plants in the legume family, however, have managed to get around this difficulty by associating themselves symbiotically with soil bacteria called rhizobia. This symbiosis culminates in the formation of a new organ, the nodule, containing bacteria capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen for the plant's benefit. This is why legumes play a major agronomic and ecological role. These include cultivated tropical legumes (soya, cowpea, groundnut, mung bean), which represent the food base of many Southern countries. However, to date, little is known about their symbiosis.
In partnership with the Suranaree University of Technology, the SymbiTrop JEAI intends to carry out the following activities :
- Perform fundamental research to understand the molecular basis of the symbiosis between Bradyrhizobium and cultivated tropical legumes.
- Carry out applied research on two Vigna species, a food plant of primary importance in Thailand (V. radiata and V. mungo) by identifying in their associated symbionts the T3SS effectors that play a positive or negative role in the nodule's development and effectiveness in fixing nitrogen. Such knowledge will enable the selection of the most efficient rhizobia, which could be used by farmers to improve crop yield without using chemical fertilizers.
- Consolidate research skills on plant-microorganism interactions and strengthen the Franco-Thai partnership through training and exchanges of young scientists from both sides.
Overall, this work will deepen our understanding of T3SS effectors' role in the rhizobium/legume interaction and this new knowledge will be used to promote the development of more sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices.
To find out more: