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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Graduate Exit Seminar - Laura Mason

Plan to join Laura Mason's graduate exit seminar on December 1, 2023, at 1:00 pm in Kottman Hall 333 or via Zoom. Laura will present, "Shrub-Crop-Microbiome Interactions: A Novel Rhizosphere Alliance to Mitigate In-Season Drought in the Sahel."

Abstract: The Sahel of West Africa is a vulnerable eco-region, where climate change will exacerbate drought.  Due to a rapidly growing rural population, cropping and livestock grazing has greatly intensified, resulting in degraded soils. Local and biological systems are needed to maintain crop yields and soil health. A solution is the Optimized Shrub-intercropping System (OSS) that uses the indigenous shrub, Guiera senegalensis, at elevated densities (1200+ ha-1) and incorporates coppiced biomass to soils. Research has shown OSS shifts soil microbial communities that includes organisms with plant growth promoting properties. This manuscript provides further metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data from three experiments: a landscape scale experiment across a rainfall and soil type gradient, a long-term experimental site (+/-OSS), and a mesocosm Simulated Drought experiment, (+/-OSS by +/- organic amendment).  1,180 recovered metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) were evaluated for relative enrichment and the microbiome mechanisms that promote millet growth based on encoded metabolisms. These databases provide a basis for understanding the role of the microbial community in conferring drought resistance in crops of the Sahel.  Developing an understanding of the mechanisms and interactions of the dynamics between plants and microorganisms in mitigating water stress in crops is important to further develop OSS to reduce the impact of drought that will increase with climate change and more sustainable agricultural systems for the Sahel and semi-arid regions world-wide.

Advisor: Dr. Richard Dick