NMR-based metabolomic analysis and microbial composition of soil supporting Burkea Africana growth

Lufuno Ethel Nemadodzi*, Jacques Vervoort, Gerhard Prinsloo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Burkea Africana is a leguminous tree used for medicinal purposes, growing in clusters, on soils impoverished from most nutrients. The study aimed to determine the factors responsible for successful reproduction and establishment of the B. africana trees in nature, as all efforts for commercial production has been proven unsuccessful. An investigation was carried out to determine the metabolomic profile, chemical composition, and microbial composition of the soils where B. Africana grows (Burkea soil) versus the soil where it does not grow (non-Burkea soil). 1H-NMR metabolomic analysis showed different metabolites in the respective soils. Trehalose and betaine, as well as a choline-like and carnitine-like compound, were found to be in higher concentration in Burkea soils, whereas, acetate, lactate, and formate were concentrated in non-Burkea soils. Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry analysis revealed the presence of numerous amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamine to be higher in Burkea soils. Since it was previously suggested that the soil microbial diversity is the major driver for establishment and survival of seedlings in nature, Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was extracted and a BLAST analysis conducted for species identification. Penicillium species was found to be highly prevalent and discriminant between the two soils, associated with the Burkea soils. No differences in the bacterial composition of Burkea and non-Burkea soils were observed. The variances in fungal composition suggests that species supremacy play a role in development of B. africana trees and is responsible for creating a supporting environment for natural establishment and survival of seedlings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number402
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Burkea africana
  • Growth promoting metabolites (GPM)
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
  • Penicillium sp.
  • Plant growth
  • Soil metabolomics
  • Soil microbial community


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