The role of indigenously-associated abuscular mycorrhizal fungi as biofertilisers and biological disease-control agents in subsistence cultivation of morogo
Sekoele, Mohlapa Junior
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The study examined interactions between morogo plants, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and Fusarium species. Morogo refers to traditional leafy vegetables that, together with maize porridge, are dominant staple foods in rural areas of the Limpopo Province such as the Dikgale Demographic Surveillance Site (DDSS). Morogo plants grow either as weeds (often among maize), occur naturally in the field or are cultivated as subsistence crops by rural communities. Botanical species of morogo plants consumed in the DDSS were determined. Colonisation of morogo plant roots by AMF and Fusarium species composition in the immediate soil environment were investigated in four of eight DDSS subsistence communities, Isolated AMF were shown to belong to the genera Acaulospora and Glomus. Twelve Fusarium species were isolated from soil among which Fusariurn verticilliodes and Fusarium proliferaturn occurred predominantly. Greenhouse pot trials were conducted to examine the effect of AMF on morogo plant growth (cowpea; Mgna unguiculata) and Fusarium proliferatum levels in soil, Interaction between plants and AMF, as well as tripartite interactions of cowpea plants, AMF and Fusarium proliferatum were investigated. Non-inoculated cowpea plants served as controls for the following inoculations of cowpea in pots: (i) Fusarium proliferatum; (ii) commercial AMF from Mycoroot (PTY) Ltd. (a mixture of selected indigenous Glomus spp referred to commercial AMF for the purpose of this study); (iii) indigenous AMF obtained from DDSS soil (referred to iocal AMF for the purpose of this study); (iv) commercial AMF plus Fusarium proliferatum; (v) local AMF plus Fusariurn proliferatum. Results showed reduced root colonization by local as well as commercial AMF when Fusarium proliferatum were present. Local AMF significantly enhanced cowpea growth while commercial AMF apparently reduced the level of Fusarium proliferatum in the rhizosphere and surrounding soil. Results suggest that AMF may have potential as biological growth enhancers and bioprotective agents against Fusarium proliferatum.