Association of Shifting Populations in the Root Zone Microbiome of Millet with Enhanced Crop Productivity in the Sahel Region (Africa)

These results suggest that the intercropping system used here can influence the recruitment of potentially beneficial microorganisms to the root zone of millet and aid subsistence farmers in producing higher-yielding crops

Spencer J. Debenport; Komi Assigbetse; Roger Bayala; Lydie Chapuis-Lardy; Richard P. Dick; Brian B. McSpadden Gardener


Scholarcy highlights

  • This study characterized specific changes in the millet root zone microbiome stimulated by long-term woody-shrub intercropping at different sites in Senegal
  • The biomass of millet plants grown in shrub and crop intercropping were significantly increased compared to that of millet grown alone. This pattern of enhanced millet growth in the intercropped plots was true for the experiments conducted at both sites. Such results demonstrate the consistent response of annual crop growth to woody shrubs and annual shrub residue incorporation independently of the shrub species used
  • We identified several highly significant associations between root zone-inhabiting soil microbial populations and improved millet growth mediated by woody-shrub intercropping
  • operational taxonomic units in the genera Aspergillus, Coniella, Lasiodiplodia, Penicillium, and Phoma increased in response to crop growth-promoting intercropping and residue amendments
  • Our findings of increased diversity in soil microbial communities following application of shrub residue expand upon those of previous work done at the same sites using phospholipid fatty acid analysis
  • The numbers of OTUs that were present at levels that were more than 0.001% of the total sequence abundance and included in each analysis ranged between 292 and 374
  • Millet growth promotion was observed at both study sites in plots intercropped with woody shrubs
  • Cookson et al presented results showing a significant increase in total phospholipid fatty acid with the application of hay, which matches the findings of Diedhiou et al and this study, indicating higher microbial diversity in residue-amended intercropped soils

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