Digging deeper into soil microbial ecology

Determined to help ordinary citizens with the know-how to make informed decisions about ecology and biodiversity conservation, Ms Elise Nghalipo, a PhD student in Natural Resources Science at NUST, is currently conducting research on Soil Microbial Ecology. Her passion has taken her to the Skeleton Coast National Park, along Namibia’s northwestern coast.

“My research topic is about understanding the different types of soil microbes present in an environmental community, their functions and how they carry out these functions to sustain a balanced ecological niche,” she says.

Soil microbes are organisms that are found in the soil. They are divided into five groups, namely, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Nghalipo’s study, titled: Plant Influences on Soil Biogeochemistry, and Taxonomic and Functional Diversity of Soil Microbial Communities in a Hyper-Arid Desert, focuses on how these soil microbes and biogeochemical processes such as soil organic carbon pools and litter decomposition may respond to climatic variations.

When asked how her research would benefit communities, she responded by saying that it would be useful in the agricultural sector and improve biodiversity conservation efforts in Namibia, as she is using the cutting-edge science of genomics approach.

“Genomics tools can reveal information about trait-conferring genes responsible for crop productivity, quality and stress tolerance, which farmers can adopt to improve crop productivity in the face of global population growth and climate change,” she said.

The young researcher further emphasised her hopes to bring the value of soil microbial communities to the forefront.

“There is a close linkage between the soil microbiome and the human intestinal microbiome, which plays a major role in enhancing human health and avoiding diseases. We all need to value and understand that soil is more than just dirt beneath our feet. It sustains life,” said Nghalipo.

Her research is funded by the European Union, under the SCIONA Project, NUST and the AfSM project.
For more information, visit http://sciona.nust.na/

Date: 
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
for Month: 
July, 2020

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