Itumeleng Moroenyane

Ph.D. candidate

Supervisor: Etienne Yergeau
Start: 2016-05-01
End: 2020-03-31
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Microbial assembly rules of the plant microbiome: insights for plant micro biome engineering
Research Objectives and Significance: The complexity of the soil matrix is often credited with structuring and delimiting microbial composition and diversity. Understanding horizontal and vertical distribution of microbes and how they are influenced by soils have been extensively studied. However, within the root-soil systems, most studies have often investigated how different agricultural management practices influence microbial community composition and structure. In recent years there has been a growing body of work showing the relative importance of community assembly processes in varying ecosystems. Studies found that species-sorting(community assembly regulated by local environment/niche processes) and neutral process(dispersal) interacted during microbial assembly and their relative importance was dependent on species abundance. In stream biofilms and subsurface environments, a few studies have found that the role of dispersal (neutral processes) tend to be more important in structuring microbial communities; however, these studies do not forego the contribution of non-neutral assembly (deterministic) processes. Studies of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi also found that both deterministic and neutral processes structured the community. Similarly, in a global study of extreme deserts, it was found that in multi-trophic systems the use of single assembly rules (deterministic or neutral) was unrealistic. However, such an investigation has never been undertaken in root-soil interface communities. It is unclear to what extent bacterial niches in soil are divided at the root-interface, and what environmental axes they may divide along. Such questions may be key to understanding how the vast microbial diversity in rhizospheres is detected by molecular methods – whether by niche differentiation or by neutral processes in strongly overlapping niches with a strong element of randomness in community structure. Here, I will concentrate on testing for evidence of niche differentiation and to what extend edaphic variable influence community assembly.


community assembly, community phylogenetics, community ecology, Microbiome, biodiversity, eco-evolutionary dynamics, Neural mechanisms, trophic niche shift


1- Deterministic processes dominate nematode community structure in the Fynbos Mediterranean heathland of South Africa
Moroenyane, I., K. Dong, D. Singh, S. B. M. Chimphango, J. M. Adams
2016 Evolutionary Ecology

2- Bulk soil bacterial community mediated by plant community in Mediterranean ecosystem, Israel
Moroenyane, I., B.M. Tripathi, K. Dong, C. Sherman, Y. Steinberger, J. Adams
2017 Applied Soil Ecology

3- Soil nematodes show a mid-elevation diversity maximum and elevational zonation on Mt. Norikura, Japan
Dong, Ke, Itumeleng Moroenyane, Binu Tripathi, Dorsaf Kerfahi, Koichi Takahashi, Naomichi Yamamoto, Choa An, Hyunjun Cho, Jonathan Adams
2017 Scientific Reports

4- Deterministic assembly processes govern bacterial community structure in the Fynbos, South Africa
Moroenyane, I., S. B. M. Chimphango, J. Wang, H-K. Kim, Jonathan Miles Adams
2016 Microbial Ecology

5- Molecular methods reveal controls on nematode community structure and unexpectedly high nematode diversity, in Svalbard high Arctic tundra
Kerfahi, Dorsaf, Jungok Park, Binu M. Tripathi, Dharmesh Singh, Dorota L. Porazinska, Itumeleng Moroenyane, Jonathan M. Adams
2016 Polar Biology

6- Trends in Taxonomic and Functional Composition of Soil Microbiome Along a Precipitation Gradient in Israel
Tripathi, Binu M., Itumeleng Moroenyane, Chen Sherman, Yoo Kyung Lee, Jonathan M. Adams, Yosef Steinberger
2017 Microbial Ecology

7- Soil fungal community development in a high Arctic glacier foreland follows a directional replacement model, with a mid-successional diversity maximum
Dong, Ke, Binu Tripathi, Itumeleng Moroenyane, Woosung Kim, Nan Li, Haiyan Chu, Jonathan Adams
2016 Scientific Reports

8- Fungal Elevational Rapoport pattern from a High Mountain in Japan
Ogwu, Matthew Chidozie, Koichi Takahashi, Ke Dong, Ho-Kyung Song, Itumeleng Moroenyane, Bruce Waldman, Jonathan M. Adams
2019 Scientific Reports

9- Bacterial seed endophyte community of annual plants modulated by plant photosynthetic pathways
Girsowicz, Ruben, Itumeleng Moroenyane, Yosef Steinberger
2019 Microbiological Research

10- Soil pH rather than elevation determines bacterial phylogenetic community assembly on Mt. Norikura
Cho, Hyunjun, Binu M Tripathi, Itumeleng Moroenyane, Koichi Takahashi, Dorsaf Kerfahi, Ke Dong, Jonathan M Adams
2018 FEMS Microbiology Ecology