Tropical soil microbiology and biodiversity: a tool for sustainable intensification of agriculture in Mozambique

Soil microorganisms are able to establish beneficial relationships with plants, helping plants in nutrients uptake like N and P, defence against plants foes and other important benefits, in return soil microorganisms receive organic compounds from plants. At present, it’s known that plants can determine the composition of the root micro- biome by active secretion of compounds that specifically stimulate or repress members of the microbial community (Doornbos et al., 2012). Occurrence of different associative microorganisms in rice (Oryza sativa L) fields has been reported by various studies from many countries. Nowadays, it’s known that limitations in water resources and arable land have caused the rice farming areas of rice-producing countries to exhibit a declining trend, so, increases in rice yield mainly rely on only the increase in per unit area yield (Xue et al., 2015).

Biofertilizers are a new type of fertilizer, containing microorganisms which help to provide more nutrients to plants, they are very known in soybean, they do not pollute the environment and they are normally cheaper than the chemical fertilizers. Therefore, the use of biofertilizers for growing rice may allow to reduce the rice production costs, improve the yields and minimize the environmental impacts. In Mozambique, we lack information about the relationships between rice and its growth promoting microorganisms present in the soil and most farmers use chemical fertilizers for supplying nutrients to the soil. The objectives of our study are as follows: (i) to evaluate how the bacteria, archaea and fungi diversity changes in rice growing fields and virgin fields; (ii) understand how critical biogeochemical cycles may respond to current and impending environmental changes; (ii) to allow us to identify factors that determine microbial community structure and activity in space and time in rice growing and virgin fields.

SAMPLE COLLECTION IN CHOKWE AND RESEARCH STAY AT ARC-SOUTH AFRICA

The samples for this study were collected in three locations: Umbeluzi´s Experimental Station in Maputo, Chokwe´s Experimental Station in Gaza both belonging to the Mozambique´s Agronomic Research Institute and in Sanga-Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, Lúrio University.

For biochemical analysis, samples were collected in the virgin and rice growing fields and the analyses were performed at the laboratory of Plant and Soil- School of Agriculture of the University of Lisbon (ISA-ULisboa) – Portugal. The following soil analyses were performed: pH-H2O, electric conductivity, organic carbon, soil dry matter, available P and K, total concentrations of Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cu, Fe, Zn and P, total N and NH4+.

SANGA FIELD TRIALS

Through this project, I had already two internships in Pretoria – South Africa at the Agricultural Research Council- (Laboratory of Microbiology), where I learned about molecular biology techniques, such as: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) extraction from soil samples, electrophoresis using agarose gel, DNA quantification, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), soil culture dependent and independent methods and more things about microbiology, this was undoubtedly a marvelous learning and experience. It’s a certainly a pleasure to be part of this project.

 

Belo Muetanene (FCA-UniLúrio, Mozambique)

 

Project partners

  • School of Agriculture of the University of Lisbon (ISA-ULisboa) – Portugal
  • IRRI-International Rice Research Institute – Mozambique
  • Agricultural Research Council (ARC) – Institute for Soil, Climate and Water-South Africa
  • Lúrio University, Faculty of Agronomic Sciences – Mozambique
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