(1) Aims: Assessing bacterial diversity and plant-growth-promoting functions in the rhizosphere of the native African trees Colophospermum mopane and Combretum apiculatum in three landscapes of the Limpopo National Park (Mozambique), subjected to two fire regimes. (2) Methods: Bacterial communities were identified through Illumina Miseq sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene amplicons, followed by culture dependent methods to isolate plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB). Plant growth-promoting traits of the cultivable bacterial fraction were further analyzed. To screen for the presence of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, the promiscuous tropical legume Vigna unguiculata was used as a trap host. The taxonomy of all purified isolates was genetically verified by 16S rRNA gene Sanger sequencing. (3) Results: Bacterial community results indicated that fire did not drive major changes in bacterial abundance. However, culture-dependent methods allowed the differentiation of bacterial communities between the sampled sites, which were particularly enriched in Proteobacteria with a wide range of plant-beneficial traits, such as plant protection, plant nutrition, and plant growth. Bradyrhizobium was the most frequent symbiotic bacteria trapped in cowpea nodules coexisting with other endophytic bacteria. (4) Conclusion: Although the global analysis did not show significant differences between landscapes or sites with different fire regimes, probably due to the fast recovery of bacterial communities, the isolation of PGPB suggests that the rhizosphere bacteria are driven by the plant species, soil type, and fire regime, and are potentially associated with a wide range of agricultural, environmental, and industrial applications. Thus, the rhizosphere of African savannah ecosystems seems to be an untapped source of bacterial species and strains that should be further exploited for bio-based solutions.
- Limpopo National Park
- Plant growth-promoting bacteria