Submitted to: Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/23/2020
Publication Date: 11/19/2020
Citation: Clemensen, A.K., Provenza, F.D., Hendrickson, J.R., Grusak, M.A. 2020. Ecological implications of plant secondary metabolites - phytochemical correlations between soil, forages, herbivores and humans. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 4:233. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2020.547826.
Technical Abstract: The agricultural community is interested in linking soil health with human health through land management practices that may enhance soil sustainability. However, often missing in this analysis is consideration of plant secondary metabolites (PSMs). This is particularly true within the scope of soil. We discuss how PSMs may be a viable link between the health of soil, herbivores, and people. Plants and the secondary metabolites they produce have been used by animals and humans as health-promoting medicines for generations. In pastures and rangelands, grazing animal production increases when they ingest forages with different PSMs. Plants produce tens of thousands of these metabolites to mediate interactions with soil, other plants, and animals in variable environments. Plants use these metabolites to communicate with their environment, both above and belowground. Plants also use PSMs to modify the rhizosphere. Research suggests that PSMs influence chemical, physical, and biological attributes in the soil. A deeper understanding of PSMs, and their potential role in soil function, will further reveal the connections between soil and human health.