Research Topic

Ecological Consequences of Biodiversity and Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry

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With the increasing recognition of world population feeding and health, global climate change and biodiversity loss, and limited energy resources with fossil fuels calling for alternatives such as biomass crops, the relevance of agriculture and forestry for human well-being in the future is more than evident. ...

With the increasing recognition of world population feeding and health, global climate change and biodiversity loss, and limited energy resources with fossil fuels calling for alternatives such as biomass crops, the relevance of agriculture and forestry for human well-being in the future is more than evident. In this context, applications of biotechnological methods including genetic engineering, marker-assisted breeding, clonal propagation of elite trees, etc., are becoming very important, but are frequently debated in the public.

Important issues are for example to enhance productivity and stress resistance of crops and trees, mainly due to restricted land area and increasing environmental pressures, and to develop carbon dioxide-neutral production systems for sustainable production of fiber/biomass and biofuel with biotechnological methods. Along with the production issues, we need to conserve and protect natural diversity and species richness as a foundation of life on earth. With the recognition that increased diversity may also increase productivity, novel productions systems combining aspects of diversity and biotechnology are emerging. Relevant areas are therefore effects of organisms with biotechnologically derived traits or natural trait-variation, which are relevant in agriculture or forestry, on ecosystem processes identified as crucial for functioning of agro-forest-ecosystems: (A) (net) production; (B) greenhouse gas emissions; (C) nutrient cycling; (D) carbon sequestration; and (E) trophic interactions relevant to crop production including pest regulation.

Hence, it appears that exploiting diversity in improved production systems will affect socio-economic aspects of human life at considerably greater extent in future than in the past. Due to the complexity of agricultural and tree production systems and the different scales involved in the biological studies with genetically modified plants on one hand and ecological studies targeting ecosystem processes on the other hand, trans- or interdisciplinary approaches are often needed. With the proposed Research Topic we aim to highlight the need for integrated approaches in research activities and to bridge research progress within the areas of plant biology, including trophic interaction (e.g. with pests), ecology and ecosystem science. Manuscripts that deal with all aspects of crop/tree biotechnology and diversity for biomass, food and feed production and their ecological consequences are highly welcome.


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