Meet Nape Mothapo

Nape Mothapo
Nape Mothapo
















Nape Mothapo won the first-place award in the Agricultural Sciences category during this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium. Her winning poster presentation is entitled Hairy Vetch Use History Affects Nodulation and Diversity of Rhizobium leguminosarum.

Mothapo is originally from South Africa and began her college career as an undergraduate at the University of Limpopo (Turfloop Campus). North Carolina is a very long way from South Africa, but she said that she chose NC State to pursue her graduate studies because we offered a ". . . diverse student body, excellent faculty and research facilities and good climate. It is also one of the best in agricultural research." Mothapo expects to graduate in August 2011 with her M.S. in Soil Science. Upon completion of her Master's, Mothapo will pursue a Ph.D. program in Soil Science at NC State.

She says that she chose to study soil science because it is one of the underrated and less explored fields. But Mothapo says that with her new knowledge of soils, she also hopes ". . .to contribute to sustainable food production." The focus of her graduate research centers on hairy vetch (HV), one of the popular legume cover crops used by organic farmers through the United States.

Mutual symbiosis of Rhizobium leguminosarum with HV is known to add significant amounts of nitrogen to the soil. Rhizobium leguminosarum are soil-borne bacteria capable of infecting roots of hairy vetch to induce nodules in which atmospheric nitrogen is converted into plant available forms of nitrogen, such as ammonium. But how HV use affects rhizobia population size and diversity has not been determined. Mothapo's study examines how HV cultivation influences nodulation and rhizobia diversity. Results are showing that fields with HV history have effective nodulation and high rhizobia diversity. To Mothapo, these results suggest that ". . . that use of HV increase diversity of infective rhizobial populations."

Mothapo hopes that the results of her study will have a positive impact on farming practices both in the United States and world wide. The regular use of legumes in farming systems increases nodulation, nitrogen fixation, and ultimately, biomass production. Farming system that use HV may be more resilient and sustainable due to high biodiversity.

In her 'down time,' Mothapo enjoys spending time with her friends, watching movies, and going to the gym.

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