Plantains are one of sub-Saharan Africa’s staple crops, but is threatened by a number of factors including climate variation, pest and disease and sensitivity to chemicals. A study titled “Subterranean Microbiome Affiliations of Plantain (Musa spp.) under Diverse Agroecologies of West and Central Africa” published in Microbial Ecology explores how important bacterial and fungal diversity is in growing plantains.
The study uncovered considerable changes in the most prevalent bacterial communities in high-rainfall forests and savanna agroecologies, as well as certain distinctive dynamic responses in fungal communities.
It also investigated the self-sustaining microbial ecosystems and distribution in agroecologies and seasonal regimes in sub-Saharan Africa, taking into account the lack of knowledge on plantain-microbe associations and the need for a holistic approach to increase productivity and identify a more efficient and robust system for long-term food security and economic concerns for smallholder farmers.
“Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Zygomycota are the three most dominant fungal species in both agroecologies. Moreover, an immense array of beneficial microbes in the roots and rhizosphere of plantain, including Acinetobacter, Bacillus, and Pseudomonas spp., were found,” said Manoj Kaushal, systems agronomist for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
The findings, according to Kaushal, reveal that distinct agroecologies and host habitats support the dynamic microbial profile in different ways. This aids in changing the structure of the rhizosphere zone to promote host-microbe interactions, which is especially beneficial in resource-scarce sub-Saharan Africa.
“For decades, soil microbes have been considered key for protecting numerous crops from various biotic and abiotic constraints. The increase in beneficial microbial diversity of soil can control various soilborne diseases and prevent the establishment of harmful pathogens in the rhizosphere and roots of a host plant,” he added. “In addition, for Musa spp., cropping practices tend to influence microbial community structure and compositions. These differ under diverse agroecologies and climatic conditions.”