Plant Microbiomes: Implications for Agriculture?

Study Compiles Research of Past Decade on Plant Microbiomes

What are the Implications for Agriculture?

Marnie Rout (University of North Texas Health Science Center) and Darlene Southworth (Southern Oregon University) recently gathered together a series of academic articles, which highlight recent advances in our understanding of plant root microbiomes, both at the molecular level and global level. A summary of their project was published by ScienceDaily. What does this mean? And what does this have to do with agriculture?

“Until recently,” Rout commented, “the microbiome had been easy to ignore in plant science because soil was considered a ‘black box’ for so long. But microbial research approaches and molecular techniques are illuminating this unknown — essentially, shining light on the microbiome.”

By bringing together works by a diverse set of authors in this special section, Rout and Southworth’s intentions are to illustrate the wide spectrum of impacts that microbiomes have on plant performance, and they emphasize that these interactions transcend several scales, from genes to ecosystems. 

“Microbiomes play a significant role in the health of their hosts, and microbiome community composition can inform us about the spectrum of healthy-to-diseased host state,” said Rout.

“Understanding how the microbiome can regulate plant performance could have enormous implications for many of the world’s most pressing problems, such as utilizing marginal lands and fragile ecosystems to meet the food demands of a growing global population, minimizing losses of land and biodiversity due to plant invasions, or mitigating impacts of climate change on plant communities,” states Rout.

“It is my goal for readers to recognize that the plant does not stop at the roots,” summarizes Rout. “I think the sustainability of microbes as residents on the planet should inspire everyone to reach a deeper understanding of microbiome influence on the part of the world that we can readily perceive.” 

Interested in more detail? See here.

1 Comment on Plant Microbiomes: Implications for Agriculture?

  1. I’m a PhD student at the U of Oregon, studying the partial transmission of the plant microbiome via the seed – a.k.a. Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project. Check out my website for more information on this concept, and to participate in a community research network involving heirloom flint corn:

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