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Quantifying Crop Rhizosphere Microbiome Ecology: The Next Frontier in Enhancing the Commercial Utility of Agricultural Microbes

Microorganisms represent the oldest biological forms on the planet and reside in virtually all environments capable of supporting life. These metabolically diverse microscopic organisms are responsible for driving global energy fluxes, including the carbon and nutrient cycles which dramatically affect soil health and nutrient uptake in higher plants, and which support plant growth, health and productivity. Modern “omics” technologies have been employed to better elucidate the complexities of these microbial-plant relationships. However, these sophisticated methods generate complex data that requires time-consuming interpretation and are too costly to be used “on-farm” by growers as decision making tools to optimize agricultural practices to increase crop productivity. The scientific and academic communities continue to advance our knowledge of complex microbial-plant ecological relationships; but there is an immediate need to develop rapid, low cost diagnostics tools, which growers can use to better apply this growing body of knowledge to their individual farms and successfully increase crop yields. This Commentary briefly reviews current literature documenting the importance of microorganisms to crop productivity and the complex relationship between components of a productive agricultural soil microbiome. We also offer a forward-looking perspective regarding on-farm tools that could enable growers to capitalize in predictable and controllable ways, on this expanding knowledge of how microbial-plant relationships can contribute to improved crop performance to benefit growers.

Read full article on liebertpub.com

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