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Abstract Detail

Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions

Jones, James [1], Guinel, Frédérique [2].

Botany Rocks: an agro-mineral soil supplement for sustainable crop plant nutrition.

With the expanding global human population, there is increasing pressure on agriculture to improve crop yields to feed the world. One emerging tool to improve plant nutrition is soil supplementation with agro-minerals, rock fertilizers which weather to release nutrients available for plants. In this study, we focus on Spanish River Carbonatite (SRC), an agro-mineral mined from an igneous deposit near Sudbury, ON, Canada and anecdotally reported to increase plant growth and soil pH. Our overall goal was to assess the veracity of these claims using pea (Pisum sativum L.). We had three objectives: 1) to identify the optimal concentration of SRC for pea; 2) to study the effect of SRC on symbiotic nitrogen fixation; and 3) to explore the microbiota of non-sterile SRC. The first objective was met by comparing the biomass/yield of peas given SRC to those given a chemical nutrient solution, and by measuring the soil pH and number of culturable soil microorganisms. For the second objective, plants were inoculated with Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae and the growth, yield, and nodule number of plants with and without SRC were assessed. For the third objective, plants were grown in non-sterilized SRC and their root systems examined for potential beneficial root symbioses. We confirmed that sterilized SRC has a true, microbe-independent liming effect, and that the prescribed concentration of 1:10 is effective for pea growth when given supplemental nitrogen (2.5mM NH4NO3). At this concentration, the number of culturable heterotrophic microorganisms was greatly increased. We therefore used exclusively this concentration in subsequent experiments. The positive interaction between SRC and microorganisms also appears to hold true for symbiotic nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, as an increase in the number of nodules and plant shoot biomass was observed for the SRC-treated plants. Nodulation was also observed on plants grown with non-sterilized SRC, indicating that symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria occur naturally within the SRC deposit. Preliminary data further suggest that plant growth is greatly enhanced with non-sterile SRC; this increase is likely due to the presence of a variety of beneficial microorganisms adapted to SRC soils. Although we are just beginning to unravel the potential role of agro-minerals in agriculture, our results seem to confirm the aforementioned anecdotal reports, suggesting that SRC and other agro-minerals will be powerful additions to the methods of modern agriculture.

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1 - Wilfrid Laurier University, Biology, 75W. University Avenue W., Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5, Canada
2 - Wilfrid Laurier University, Biology, 75 University Avenue W, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5, Canada

Spanish River Carbonatite
Plant nutrition
Agricultural Sustainability
Plant growth-promoting Microorganisms
Pisum sativum

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Topics
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PSB008
Abstract ID:503
Candidate for Awards:Ian and Syvia Taylor Award

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