NSF Pire EcosolsGain a better understanding of the biological functioning of the association of shrubs and cereals, a prerequisite for ecological intensification






Project website (in English)

As part of a previous project, the research undertaken on two species of shrub native to the Sahel (Guiera senegalensis and Piliostigma reticulatum) showed their capacity to redistribute water in the soil to the benefit of the surface horizons (hydraulic lift) and generate local fertile areas. Associating these shrubs with annual crops improves the crop yield. The NSF-Pire project studies the underlying biological processes. A West African Shrub Initiative (WASI) has been created after these 10 years of work on the shrub in West Africa. Please see the WASI's web site and facebook for more details.


The presence of shrubs creates ecological niches that encourage the development of the microbial communities involved in the supply of nutrients to the associated crop, increasing growth


  • Determine the effects of hydraulic lift on microbial diversity and the functions associated with these microorganisms
  • Determine the effect of crop association on the organisation of nematode communities which are indicators of the microbiological functioning of a soil
  • Determine whether the microbial populations close to the roots of the shrubs (rhizosphere), which are beneficial to plant growth, colonise the associated crop (millet)
  • Identify and isolate the microorganisms able to promote plant growth
  • Use ecological processes and functionalities to build a viable strategy, for increasing productivity and sustainability of agrosystems, adapted to the conditions in sub-sahelian Africa.

The project is based on field sampling, field trials coordinated by ISRA (Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute) and the University of Thiès, and experiments in greenhouses or laboratories (LMI IESOL). The research is carried out in Senegal by young American and Senegalese scientists under the supervision of experienced Senegalese, French and American scientists. The MicroTrop Tropical Ecology courses for “young scientists” organised in 2012 and 2014 in Senegal were partly based on this project.


Bright M.B.H., Diedhiou I., Bayala R., Assigbetsé K., Chapuis-Lardy L., Ndour Y, R.P. Dick 2017 Long-term Piliostigma reticulatum intercropping in the Sahel: Crop productivity, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and soil quality. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 242 (2017) 9–22

Diakhate S., M. Gueye, T. Chevallier, N.H. Diallo, K. Assigbetsé, J. Abadie, M. Diouf, D. Masse, M. Sembene, Y.B. Ndour, R.P. Dick, L. Chapuis-Lardy 2016 Soil microbial functional capacity and diversity in a millet-shrub intercropping system of semi-arid Senegal. Journal of Arid Environments 129 (2016) 71-79

PhD thesis


Octobre 2010 - Octobre 2016


  • Ohio State University, Richard Dick
  • ISRA, Insitut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles, Yacine Ndour
  • Université de Thiès


National Science Foundation (NSF, USA ; programmePIRE, Partnership for International Research and Education ; OISE-0968247)


Lydie Lardy, Eco&Sols, IRD Montpellier
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