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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 June 2018
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

During the period January to March 2018, the PEER team focused their activities on two point:

(1) finalizing analysis of results obtained in experiments in the impact of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on millet growth in condition of elevated temperature and water stress combined  and (2) the characterization of genetic diversity of microbial communities in soil millet’s growing under the condition of elevated temperature 37°C compared to the normal temperature 32°C. For these activities, the millet was cultivated in the climate chamber in elevated temperature (37°C) and in water stress at 25% of Water Holding Capacity of soil. 

The Ph.D student in the project is still carrying out her experiments. She is working on the mesocosm experiment to study the impact of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) inoculation on millet growth in elevated temperature (+5°C) applied in climatic chamber. The data collected at the end of this second round of incubation at 37°C will be compared to the first round of incubation at 32°C in order to figure out how +5°C can affect mycorrhization rate and physiological parameters of millet.

Lastly, during this period, results of soils parameter incubated in 32°C were completed. From this experiment, the team concluded the following: It appears that the Shoot biomass of millet cultivated in soil collected beneath a shrub is significantly higher compared to millet grown in the soil collected outside shrub. These results confirm that the inoculation improve the millet’s growth. The presence of the shrub promote establishment of AMF symbiosis.

Secondly, the enzyme activity was measured in the soil where the millet was grown to evaluate the global activity of microbial community of soil. The results showed that the FDA activity is significantly higher when the indigenous AMF strains were inoculated compared to the control . In all treatments, the activity FDA of soil collected beneath shrub is significantly higher than in soil collected outside shrub. FDA results bears out the estimation of microbial biomass measured.

In the next quarter, the team plans on completing the analysis of data issued from the last experiment involving on the impact of elevated temperature and water stress combined on the soil microbial activities. These results should be correlated with other results to give some conclusions. They will also work on completing the characterization and analysis of genetic diversity of fungal and bacterial communities of soil millet’s growing.

2-432 PhD student experiment in the greenhouse 2-432_ MicroTrop 2014 Participants and Lecturers.jpg
A PhD student conducts soil experiments in a greenhouse (photo courtesy of Dr. Ndour). MicroTrop 2014 Participants and Lecturers

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