Roots Lab Student Trains Research Team in Zambia

Posted: September 19, 2012

Jimmy Burridge was in Zambia from September 5-14, 2012 working with the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute at the Misamfu Research Station.
Jimmy Burridge (left) demonstrates shovelomics to Richard Kaunda

Jimmy Burridge (left) demonstrates shovelomics to Richard Kaunda

The station is situated near Kasama in the Northern Province. He was hosted by Kennedy Muimui, director of the Zambian bean breeding program.  Kennedy Muimui had been in the US last year for a 3 month training sponsored by the USDA FAS – Borlaug Fellows Program.  The grant included a follow up visit from Penn State to conduct further training.

Kennedy studying bean seedlings

Kennedy K. Muimui is seen here evaluating bean seedlings. Root traits seen at this stage can impact growth in the field.  

The in-country training took advantage of a small experiment using locally adapted genotypes and was compromised of 4 treatments: non-limited, nutrient limited, water limited and combined phosphorus and nutrient limitations.  This trial was used as a tool to discuss plant physiology, soil resource availability and to demonstrate various methods important to the evaluation of plant performance and identification of root traits related to tolerance of edaphic stress.   Topics covered included: soil water and phosphorus content by depth, plant water and phosphorus status, relative growth rates including leaf appearance rate and shovelomics.

Jimmy and the Misamfu Research Station teamJimmy Burridge with the Misamfu Research Station team.  

Top: Emmanuel Malauni, Sonwell Mugalu, Chikoti Mukuma, Geofrrey Phiri, Jimmy, Richard Kaunda and Abigail Banda | Bottom: Martin Mathotho and Sombo Chinyama


Laboratory techniques were also demonstrated that will aid in the identification of genotypes with traits related to greater phosphorus acquisition, namely, greater basal root whorl number and longer, denser root hairs.  

While host country participants research a variety of crops such as sorghum, millet, rice, bean and edible mushrooms, they indicated that the training has applications for their own research programs.  Both the Roots Lab and the researchers at the Misamfu station hope that this collaboration can be continued and expanded.  

Jimmy at Misamfu demonstrating various techniques

Richard, Abigail, Jimmy and Sombo (left to right) phenotyping bean roots, while Geoffrey is taking photos in the background.


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