Harnessing the Plant Microbiome: A Key Towards Sustainable Agriculture
Published on Jan 1, 2017
· DOI :10.1007/978-981-10-6593-4_12
Plants are no more considered as organisms but as complex communities harbouring diverse microbes both on its outer as well as inner surfaces and environment. Plant microbiome represents the complex microbial communities associated directly or indirectly with a plant. It can be broadly categorized into endophytic, epiphytic and rhizospheric microbiome. Therefore, complex interactions between different said zones lead to a plant microbiome. Interestingly, plant microbiome involves pathogenic as well as non-pathogenic microbes. Non-pathogenic members include neutral as well as symbiotic members. Applications of plant-associated microbes hold a plethora of promises in diverse fields, viz. biotransformation, biodegradation, phytoremediation, seed production, seed predation, plant growth promotion, stress tolerance, biocatalysis, biofuel production, biocontrol, agricultural importance, source of novel natural products, biosynthesis and many more. There is an urgent need to explore and understand the hyperdiversity as well as functional potential of these microbial communities not just for the sake of sustaining ecosystem services but to maintain the beneficial use of biodiversity to mankind. For sustainable development of the human world, sustainable agriculture is the need of the hour. Plant microbiome communities are reported to play important roles in soil improvement, plant growth promotion and stress resistance. They are bestowed with the distinguished features of atmospheric nitrogen fixation, bioactive metabolite and phytohormone production, plant disease suppression, nutrient cycling enhancement and many more. Microbial mutualism offers a novel approach to develop microbial inoculants for use in agricultural biotechnology. The microbial inoculants offer several advantages as they are more safe, have reduced environmental cost, have lesser negative impacts on human health, are active in small quantities and have many more positive applications. These products can plausibly be used as biofertilizers and/or biocontrol agents, plant strengtheners, phytostimulators and biopesticides. It is a well-established fact that plants cannot survive in the absence of microbial associations. Therefore, deep understanding of the plant microbiome as a whole is essential in order to explore the same for better and sustainable agriculture.