Use of Indigenous Cyanobacteria for Sustainable Improvement of Biogeochemical and Physical Fertility of Marginal Soils in Semiarid Tropics

  • Luigi Paolo D’AcquiEmail author


This chapter describes a realistic and innovative approach for promoting a sustainable increase of overall soil fertility of marginal lands in representative semiarid environments in East and Southern Africa (South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe). This realistic and innovative approach was based on the application of indigenous selected strains of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and releasing organic compounds such as exopolysaccharides (EPS) to improve soil fertility and structural stability. To achieve these goals, 17 cyanobacteria strains (over 200 identified in soils of the African countries), able to fix atmospheric nitrogen and to release EPS in considerable amounts, were isolated, purified and grown. Using adequate techniques and procedures, large amounts of cyanobacterial biomasses were produced to be applied to poor soils to ameliorate their quality and to improve their productivity. Laboratory and greenhouse experiments showed that the application of these biomasses significantly improved overall soil fertility and crop yield. In spite of the need to confirm the relevance and persistence of the beneficial effects by further medium and long-term field experiments, the application of selected cyanobacteria strains to marginal lands appeared to be a very promising tool for a sustainable improvement of fertility and productivity of degraded soils in semiarid tropics.


Extracellular Polymeric Substance Cyanobacterial Strain Cyanobacterial Biomass Soil Inoculation World Reference Base 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work is based on results from CYANOSOILS project funded by European Union, contract no. ICA4-CT-2001-10058. The author gratefully acknowledges Dr L. Tomaselli for optical microscopy observations, Prof. L. Calamai and Dr B. Pushparaj for the revision of the manuscript and all Partners who took part in the CYANOSOILS project.


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto per lo Studio degli EcosistemiCNRSesto FiorentinoItaly

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