About this Research Topic
Sustainable food production in the face of a growing human population remains one of the greatest agricultural challenges. In recent years, microbes have emerged as an untapped resource for combating challenges to agricultural sustainability, such as increasing crop yields and reducing hunger globally. Animals, plants, and soil are all essential components of agroecosystems, and they are unified by association with diverse microbial communities (“microbiomes”). According to “Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030” (by National Academy of Sciences), understanding the relevance of the microbiome to agriculture is a top research priority. Harnessing the growing body of knowledge on microbiomes is expected to generate new avenues to revolutionize agriculture, such as by improving soil structure, increasing ecosystem nutrient availability, boosting plant resilience to stress, and developing new intervention for insect pests.
Increased awareness of the importance of microorganisms for plant and soil health has fueled a boom in research on agricultural microbiomes. However, we are only beginning to translate this knowledge into management solutions for diverse agroecosystems. With the advent of omics technologies and gene editing, along with increasing efforts towards transdisciplinary research across various agriculturally-relevant microbiomes, major breakthroughs and microbial-based innovations for agriculture are greatly anticipated. We are currently experiencing a reinvigoration of microbial biotechnologies that utilize microbial benefits to improve agroecosystem functioning, for example through enhanced soil health, crop vigor and pest protection. However, the long-term efficacy is unknown and in many emerging areas (e.g. controlled environments, hydroponics) microbial impacts on plant health and production is relatively unexplored.
The goal of this Research Topic is to gather contributions from scientists working in diverse disciplines and topics related to microbiomes in agroecosystems, with focus on translation of basic knowledge to innovative applied research. We welcome contributions that address themes including (but not limited to):
• Systems level approaches to understanding the structure and function of soil, plant, and insect associated agricultural microbiomes (e.g. plant-soil feedback, insect herbivores as phyllosphere and root microbiome engineers, transfer of microbes between soil-plants-insects, microbe-microbe interactions)
• Advances in microbial biotechnology and evaluation of benefits and risks associated with developing and adopting new technologies (e.g. microorganisms as biofertilizers, biopesticides, or biostimulants, microbial consortia vs. single microbes, microbiome engineering – genetic or community level)
• Management and engineering of agricultural microbiomes for improved crop health and protection from pests and pathogens
• Heritability of microbiome-derived phenotypes (plants and insects) and crop breeding for interactions with beneficial microbes
• Mechanisms contributing to microbiome evolution and the stability or resilience of agricultural microbiomes to human or environmental disturbance
• Impacts of conventional management approaches on agricultural microbiomes (e.g. agrochemicals, soil amendments, cover cropping)
• Exploiting insect microbial symbiosis to control agricultural pests (e.g. herbivores) and protect beneficials (e.g. pollinators)
• New technologies to study plant-insect-microbe molecular interactions in agricultural systems.
We welcome Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Hypothesis and Theory and Perspective article types.
Keywords: Microbiome, Sustainable agriculture, Agroecosystems, Nutrient availability, Microorganisms, Microbial biotechnologies
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.