In a recent study published in AoBP, Ndzwanana et al. address this gap in knowledge by investigating competition between C. odorata and V. sieberiana in nutrient-poor savannah soils and how the presence of the former modifies the patterns of growth of the latter. It was found that V. sieberiana can withstand competition from invasive shrubs like C. odorata by utilizing both atmospheric and soil nitrogen sources. This shift in N acquisition strategy is driven by soil-borne symbionts to the plant from the Family Rhizobiaceae, which enhance below-ground allocation to nodules and make them more efficient at fixing atmospheric N. In this way, V. sieberiana seedlings subjected to competition have greater C growth costs when integrated over the whole plant growth cycle compared with V. sieberiana seedlings growing with no competition. The allocation of biomass to the below-ground structures in these seedlings allows them to survive in impoverished soils and to out-compete C. odorata.
Anathi Magadlela grew up in a small village town called Idutywa in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. In 2011, he moved to Western Cape Province South Africa to conduct an MSc and PhD in plant physiology in the Botany and Zoology Dept. at Stellenbosch University, Cape Town. Anathi currently holds a lecturer position in the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu- Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
Anathi is a plant biologist, focusing on functional and evolutionary aspects of plant-soil-microbe interactions during nutrient stress. His current research focuses on the functional flexibility of legumes in natural ecosystems and sustainable agricultural systems, during nutrient stress. This research seeks to assess phenotypic and molecular adaptations of nutrient-stressed legumes, to elucidate the unique genes and proteins involved in nutrient stress adaptations of legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria.