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University of Cape Town (2018)

Edaphic factors and rhizobia influence the distribution of legumes (Fabaceae) in the Core Cape Subregion of South Africa

Dludlu, Meshack Nkosinathi

Titre : Edaphic factors and rhizobia influence the distribution of legumes (Fabaceae) in the Core Cape Subregion of South Africa

Auteur : Dludlu, Meshack Nkosinathi

Université de soutenance : University of Cape Town.

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2018

Résumé partiel
Fabaceae is the second most speciose plant family in the Core Cape Subregion (CCR) of South Africa, a Mediterranean type ecosystem, with mostly nutrient-poor soils. A majority of the legumes occurring in this region belong to the predominantly nitrogen-fixing subfamily Papilionoideae and they employ a variety of strategies for nutrient acquisition. However, legumes are neither uniformly nor randomly distributed in the CCR landscape. Instead, distinct legume species assemblages tend to occupy particular habitats within the landscape. The drivers of this distribution pattern are yet to be determined. In this thesis, it was hypothesized that edaphic factors (soil chemical and physical characteristics) and the distribution of rhizobia have influenced legume distributions in the CCR landscape. The influence of edaphic factors on the distribution of legume species assemblages in the Cape Peninsula (a microcosm of the CCR) is the subject of the second chapter of the thesis. It was hypothesized that the composition of legume species assemblages is correlated with soil physical and chemical properties and that the interaction of Phosphorus (P) and the three cations that often bind P, i.e. Aluminium, Calcium and Iron, making it unavailable to plants, drive legume species assemblages in the landscape. Soils from 27 legume sites, spanning all major soil types of the Cape Peninsula, were analysed for 31 chemical and physical properties. Surveys of legume species present at each site were conducted to generate a presence/absence matrix. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to test for a correlation between legume species composition and edaphic factors. The strength of the association between legume species composition and site groupings based on edaphic properties was assessed using indicator species analysis. A significant correlation between edaphic factors and species composition was found and the key edaphic parameters driving the relationship were clay content, iron (Fe), potassium (K), sulphur (S) and zinc (Zn). Indicator species, characteristic of the various edaphic habitats were also identified. These findings indicate that distinct edaphic habitats are occupied by discrete legume species assemblages, implying a significant influence of edaphic factors on the legume distributions. Chapter three of the thesis sought to determine if the ecological parameters ; altitude, pH and soil type influence the distribution of the two main rhizobial genera (Burkholderia and Mesorhizobium) that nodulate various legumes of the CCR, and to determine the diversity and phylogenetic position of rhizobia that associate with the narrowly distributed and rare Indigofera superba in the CCR. The first objective was pursued through molecular characterisation of rhizobial strains isolated from nodules of legume species collected in the field across the Cape Peninsula. DNA sequences for 16S rRNA, recA and nodA were combined with data from a previous study that sampled broadly within the CCR and phylogenetic analyses were conducted.

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Page publiée le 8 janvier 2019