About this Research Topic
Compelling evidence has unequivocally proven the importance of microorganisms in maintaining the health of our planet and over the past two to three decades metagenomics studies have resulted in the availability of large amounts of data on microbial community structure. Agro-ecosystems are amongst the oldest managed ecosystems, their properties affected largely in accordance with the changing needs and practices of agriculture to benefit human society. Depending upon the types of crops cultivated, microorganisms play specific roles in nourishing and detoxifying soils. However, to meet the challenges of food security of the ever-increasing human population, there is huge demand on improving agro-ecosystems practices and their micro flora for better performance. Due to the widespread application of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other agrochemicals, agro-ecosystems have become contaminated with persistent xenobiotics, chemicals and heavy metals.
The presence of agrochemicals and other pollutants in soils is known to have detrimental effects on soil quality and a wide range of organisms, posing potential health risks that are a concern for human and ecosystem health. Microbe-assisted bioremediation is the only feasible solution for the effective clean-up of contaminated ecosystems. Systematic studies characterizing beneficial microbes involved in biodegradation of toxic agrochemicals and heavy metals are now becoming available in the literature. Additionally, biological agents that would replace these agrochemicals for sustainable pollution free agriculture is highly desirable. With the exponential increase of the application of genomics and related omics approaches, our ability to understand, address, and predict the functional potential of microbes and their utility to carry out mitigation of pollution has improved considerably. Metagenomic studies have revealed the properties of uncultivated prokaryotes in the environment and provide a window into the environmental gene pool which establishes a basis on which to systematically develop effective and sustainable clean-up processes for agro-ecosystems.
The proposed research topic will highlight the following aspects (i.e. scope of the topic):
1. Distribution and ecological diversity and functional diversity of microorganisms involved in biodegradation and bioremediation of toxic agrochemicals in agro-ecosystems. This will mainly include:
A. Culture dependent approach towards identification and characterization of bacterial taxa involved in biodegradation & bioremediation with an emphasis on their genetic attributes. And
B. Culture independent approaches to decipher microbes and their community structure and function and detoxification pathways in relation to different toxic agrochemicals (fertilizers and pesticides-their degraded intermediates; heavy-metals).
2. Effects of toxic agrochemicals and heavy metals [quantification, residual participation, resident time, migration, degradation etc.] on the microbiome of agro-ecosystems.
3. Microbial bioremediation of agrochemicals and metals of agro-ecosystems- through multi omics approaches: genomics, metagenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics. Focusing on the potential for bioremediation of toxic agrochemicals, their metabolic intermediates, and heavy metals relevant in agro-ecosystems.
Keywords: biodegradation, bioremediation, agro-ecosystems
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