ITCER Site — Grassland Biome, Metabolome, and Biomass Production

Due to climate change, emerging, re-emerging and endemic plant diseases pose a major challenge to food production and cause food insecurity, especially in equatorial Africa. In addition, human settlement is leading to a drastic increase in plastics and thus to the occurrence of microplastics in the upper soil layers.

The aim of this project is therefore to screen mycobiomes in soils, soil-inhabiting organisms, plant diversity and grassland productivity against the background of different management regimes of the ITCER experimental plots in Ng’iya, Siaya County, Western Kenya. An additional focus will be on mycopathogens against plant pathogens on the one hand and fungal plastiphilic indicator species on the other.

An important goal of this research project is (1) to understand interactions between soil and plant diversity and grassland productivity and (2) obtain bioactive secondary metabolites by isolating fungal strains that form lead molecules for the production of antimycotic pharmaceuticals for humans, animals and crops and, on the other hand, to get a better picture of the pollution of soils by microplastics using fungal indicator species.

Research permit by NACOSTI.