Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)



Program Name/Specialization

Integrative Biology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Frédérique Guinel

Advisor Role

Master's Thesis Supervisor


A critical problem facing agriculture today is being able to consistently and sustainably provide plants with adequate nutrients for growth. With this problem being exacerbated by the ever-increasing human population, new perspectives and techniques are required to ensure global food security. In order to fully realize potential solutions, however, plant growth and nutrition cannot be exclusively focused upon. The soil-microorganism-plant system is comprised of many interconnected and interdependent processes that together support plant growth: it is upon these processes that the focus must be placed. In this work, the agromineral Spanish River Carbonatite (SRC) is characterized using the framework of the soil-microorganism-plant system with the pea Pisum sativum L. as a model crop plant. The overall objective of confirming the potential usefulness of SRC as an agricultural amendment was divided into three sub-objectives. First, the optimal concentration of SRC that most benefits the soil, microorganisms, and plants, was determined. Second, the impact of SRC on the agriculturally-important symbiosis between pea and rhizobia was assessed. Third, the effect of storage conditions on SRC’s usefulness as an agricultural supplement was preliminarily examined. Overall, it was hypothesized that the addition of SRC at an optimal concentration would result in increased plant growth, because SRC is a source of a wide variety of nutrients. Importantly, it was verified that SRC is capable of acting as such a nutrient source for plants, and that its addition into the soil enhanced the efficiency of the rhizobia-pea symbiosis resulting in benefits to plant growth. Preliminary results also indicate that beneficial microorganisms are present within SRC, but are negatively influenced by current storage methods. By using a perspective that took into account soil properties and microorganisms in addition to plant responses, it was possible to examine the effect of SRC on the underlying soil-microorganism-plant processes. The findings presented here provide evidence that agrominerals such as SRC are potentially powerful tools for agriculture and that in studying the complexities of plant nutrition the whole soil-microbe-plant system must be taken into consideration.

Convocation Year