Status and Need of Research on Rhizobia and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Associated with Leguminous Plants in Saudi Arabia

Mosbah Mahdhi, Taieb Tounekti, Habib Khemira


Most regions of Saudi Arabia are frequently subjected to high temperature and drought spells which destroy natural vegetation and lead to soil erosion and the advance of sand dunes.  The use of legume plants may help to preserve these ecosystems and to slow down desertification processes. Legumes produce extensive, deep root systems with a capacity to develop mycorrhizal and rhizobial symbioses facilitating the plant’s nutrition via enhanced soil nutrients absorption and atmospheric nitrogen fixation, respectively. These associations play a vital role in preserving and even restoring the fertility of poor and eroded soils. Research on tripartite associations of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), rhizobia and legumes is rare in Saudi Arabia. Little is known about the diversity of these beneficial symbioses in Saudi ecosystems and their beneficial role for the sustainable management of range land. We attempted to explore the present status of research on rhizobia and AMF associated with various legumes in Saudi Arabia. The use of legume plants associated with microbial symbionts may be a useful asset in preserving fragile ecosystems and combating desertification. The identification of adapted and efficient legume-rhizobia-fungi tripartite associations in local ecosystems is of paramount importance for successful ecosystem restoration, rangeland and forest management and agricultural sustainability especially under unfavorable environmental conditions due to soil salinity, drought and heat stress.


rhizobia; Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; legumes; Saudi Arabia

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