Clara Pena-Venegas


Name: Clara P. Pena-Venegas
Country: Colombia
Occupation: PhD candidate Wageningen University (4th year) – Terra Preta programme (INREF)
Associate Researcher- Sinchi Institute (Colombia)
Thesis topic: Indigenous people-manioc soil relationships

Arbuscular mycorrhization (AM) is a plant-fungi association important in the supply of phosphorus to host plants among other benefits. AM is a natural resource which can play an important role in tropical agriculture. And manioc (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is an important root crop in the tropics that depend on AM. Manioc AM has been mainly studied in tropical environments with highly weathered soils with high acidity and limited fertility. However, fertile environments also exist in the tropics, but manioc AM has been poorly studied in those conditions. It is known that AM communities and root arbuscular mycorrhization are affected by soil conditions and could vary from mutualism to parasitism relations. AM communities are very variable and are affected by plant composition. It has been observed that the presence of specific AM species could increase the benefits of manioc mycorrhization in acid low fertility soils, but manioc-fungi associations under other environments are unknown. There are still many aspects of AM that had been not addressed or that require more attention to understand how this plant-fungi relationship occurs and the potential benefits or limitations that native AM could provide to tropical agriculture.

During the course, I will work on the data for the fourth chapter of my thesis, which aims to answer: How different are AM communities and manioc arbuscular mycorrhization in environments of the Amazon region with contrasting soil composition?