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Fungal community structure in a desertification gradient in the Caatinga biome

Grant number: 21/14418-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2022
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal researcher:Elke Jurandy Bran Nogueira Cardoso
Grantee:Danilo Ferreira da Silva
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/18944-3 - Climatic changes and energetic efficiency in agriculture: focusing on hydric stress, organic management and soil biology, AP.PFPMCG.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):22/07117-0 - Abundance of genes related to soil phosphorus cycling in a desertification gradient, BE.EP.MS


Desertification is the most serious ecological problem occurring in soils in arid and semiarid climate environments around the world. The decrease in the productive capacity of the soil caused by desertification is due, in large part, to the loss of ecological processes carried out by microbial communities, which are essential for the maintenance of life in this environment. Fungi are one of the main microbial communities in the soil, as they act on the decomposition of organic matter and the availability and transport of nutrients and water for plants. However, it so far it is still not known, how the desertification in semiarid regions affects the structure of the fungal community, especially regarding the modulations that occur in the management of soil restoration by excluding grazing. Therefore, the objective of this study is to evaluate the fungal community structure in areas of the Caatinga affected by the desertification process and how it is modulated in the management of exclusion from grazing, using areas with native vegetation as a parameter for comparisons. The study will be carried out in three operational areas in the northern part of the state of Ceará, characterized by the presence of a dry tropical forest, in a long-term experiment (20 years). Each area is going to be subdivided into the following land uses (treatments): 1. Natural vegetation (VN), 2. Spontaneous natural recovery (RN - grazing exclusion), 3. Areas in advanced process of degradation by overgrazing (AD). Soil sampling will be done at a depth of 0-10 cm, the soil region with the greatest microbial activity, and in two seasons of the year (dry and rainy). Chemical and physical soil characterization analyses will be carried out, as well as the evaluation of basal respiration, enzymatic and glomalin activity in the soil. The taxonomic and functional profile of fungal communities will be evaluated through amplicon sequencing (Illumina Platform). At the end of the study, we will be able to find the impacts of the desertification process on the total fungi and on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities. In addition, we are going to obtain data for the management of area exclusion, which may be an excellent strategy for the reestablishment of soil fungi communities. Finally, the fruits of this knowledge will provide important information for the creation of policies for the management and use of these resources (soil and water) and thus, enable the best living conditions for a population and make it possible for them to remain in these areas.

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