Submitted to: Microbial Biotechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/17/2018
Publication Date: 10/16/2018
Citation: Thomashow, L.S., Letourneau, M., Kwak, Y., Weller, D.M. 2018. The soil-borne legacy in the age of the holobiont. Microbial Biotechnology. 12(1):51-54. https://doi.org/10.1111/1751-7915.13325.
Interpretive Summary: Agricultural productivity must increase in order to meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel requirements of the growing population. This article highlights the microorganisms residing near to, on, and within the root, which are as important to plant health as the gut microorganisms are to our own well-being. It is suggested that future efforts to increase agricultural productivity will focus on crops as functional units comprised of plants and their associated beneficial microorganisms in the context of the environments in which they are grown. Scientists, industry, and farmers will need to work closely together in the future to continue to develop, adapt, and apply new technologies to a wide range of cropping systems. At the same time, consumer education will help grow public awareness that “plant probiotics” offer a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to dependence on the use of chemical pesticides, and society will benefit through greater agricultural profitability and the preservation of social values.
Technical Abstract: The need for increased agricultural productivity to meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel requirements of the growing population is indisputable, as is the challenge of attaining this goal with minimal impact on diminishing land and water resources. Also wanting is recognition that soil quality encompasses not only a soil’s chemical-physical properties, but also its rich microbiological component, a soil-borne legacy that acts to shape plant growth, enhance plant nutrient uptake, improve root architecture, and provide a first line of defense against biotic and abiotic stresses manifested under sometimes harsh conditions. Future efforts to increase agricultural productivity will focus on crops as functional units comprised of plants and their associated microflora in the context of the various environments in which they are grown. At the same time, consumer acceptance of beneficial rhizobacteria as “plant probiotics,” and recognition of the added value of sustainably produced commodities, will benefit local agricultural communities through greater profitability of farming systems and changes that support cultural institutions and social values.