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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Rhizosphere biology of shrub-created resource islands of Sahelian agroecosystems: optimization and adaptation to climate change

PI: Yacine Ndour (Institut Senegalais de Recherches Agricoles)
U.S. Partner: Richard P. Dick (The Ohio State University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2016
2-432MicroTrop 2014 Field trip to Niayes' Small Farmer Vegetable Production
 MicroTrop 2014 Field trip to Niayes' Small Farmer Vegetable Production.
A major challenge facing Senegal is the capacity to feed a rapidly growing population against a background of climate change and low inherent soil fertility. Scientifically validated agricultural systems are now urgently needed that optimize crop productivity despite water and heat stresses. With previous support from the National Science Foundation, the collaboration to date between the Senegalese and U.S. scientists working on this PEER Science project has led to the discovery of two previously unrecognized shrub species that can coexist with crops on smallholder farms and have the ability to lift water from wet sub- to dry surface soil and to improve the soil. The primary goals of this new project are to understand how the harboring of beneficial nematodes (microscopic roundworms) and arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) by shrub roots and associated rhizosphere can increase or maintain crop productivity in a climate change scenario of greater water and temperature stress. The project will be mainly based on lab experiments in a climate chamber with humidity and illumination to generate varying climate scenarios.

The main expected outcome will be progress toward developing optimized shrub-crop systems that will help subsistence farmers withstand climatic change stress. The project should serve USAID strategies of (1) adapting agricultural systems to increase, or at least, maintain crop production in climate changes while preserving biodiversity and related services at field scale, (2) creating wealth through better management of Senegal’s natural resources and development of sustainable agriculture, and (3) strengthening institutional and human capacities in the fields of agricultural education and research that benefit to smallholder farmers.

Summary of Recent Activities

The main focus of the project team during the third quarter of 2014 was to evaluate the response of biological assemblages derived from the shrub and millet association to stressful climate simulated conditions. To this end, the team conducted a series of experiments in simulated climatic conditions (temperature and humidity). Ideally this would be done in a climatic chamber, but it has yet to arrive in Senegal. The equipment has shipped and should be there before winter. In order to continue with the project, the team conducted their experiments using an ad hoc set up in a greenhouse. The experiments explored the relationship between harboring of beneficial nematodes (microscopic roundworms) and arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) and an increase of millet productivity associated with shrubs under water and temperature stress. At the conclusion of the 55 day experiment, the team will statistically analyze the results.

In the coming months, the team will install its own climate chamber in the lab which will substantially increase the pace at which the team can work. Soil will be collected from two different sites and an incubation experiment will commence according to water and heat stress in the climatic chamber.

2-432_MicroTrop 2014_ 19 Mai- 13 June 2014, Sénégal 2-432_ MicroTrop 2014 Participants and Lecturers.jpg
 MicroTrop 2014 Participants MicroTrop 2014 Participants and Lecturers

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