Plant-Microbial Interactions in Miombo Woodlands

Likulunga Emmanuel Likulunga
Likulunga Emmanuel Likulunga
project abstract

The Miombo woodlands are tropical seasonal woodlands with extensive distribution in Africa, dominated by plant species belonging to the genera of Brachystegia, Isoberlinia and Julbernardia. The Miombo woodlands are economically important for timber production, firewood collection and provision of non-timber forest products among others. The Miombo woodlands are also significant for nutrient cycling due to their capability of forming symbiotic associations with microbes such as fungi. While microbes such as fungi are imperative for mediating ecosystem functions, the diversity and composition of these microbes in Miombo woodlands are poorly understood due to little or no knowledge availability. Further anthropogenic activities such as deforestation, coupled with global climate change, are threats to forest ecosystems with Miombo woodlands inclusive. Therefore, in our project we will explore soil and root associated fungal diversity and composition through fungal DNA barcoding in Miombo woodlands, integrating sites (unexplored for microbes) in Zambia showing variation in abiotic factors (e.g. climatic conditions and soil nutrient availability). The knowledge from this project will provide a better understanding on the interaction of Miombo woodland species with microbes, thereby contributing to sustainable management of these woodlands.

Photo by Ron Smit on Unsplash