Research Topic

Harnessing useful rhizosphere microorganisms for pathogen and pest biocontrol

About this Research Topic

The world food production must increase in the near future in parallel to human demographic growth, both in quality and quantity. However, there is an increasing uncertainty about the feasibility of many plant protection strategies currently implemented in a broad range of agro-ecosystems worldwide. Plant ...

The world food production must increase in the near future in parallel to human demographic growth, both in quality and quantity. However, there is an increasing uncertainty about the feasibility of many plant protection strategies currently implemented in a broad range of agro-ecosystems worldwide. Plant pests and diseases, as well as weeds, are factors reducing the actual production in many crops, provoking heavy losses in agriculture and forestry. These biotic constraints are overwhelmingly controlled by means of chemically-based biocides (i.e. fungicides, nematicides, etc.) which in turn may pose severe risks for human and animal health as well as undesirable effects in beneficial (micro)biota. Therefore, an increasing public concern on the use of these control measures is becoming evident during the last decades. Considering that for economical, ecological, and food-safety reasons, many chemicals are progressively considered less or no sustainable, and that a number of the most widely-used biocides are or will be banned for agricultural practices, researchers are affording the study of alternative routes leading to the management of plant pathogens and pests. These approaches mostly rely on biological and low environmental impact solutions. Since plant productivity largely depends on soil characteristics (physical-chemical, biological, etc.), the rhizosphere is a fundamental object of study. Many research efforts are now focusing on soil and root-associated microbiomes, and on the complex network of multitrophic interactions taking place in this highly-dynamic ecological niche, underpinning plant nutrition and root health. Moreover, how beneficial soil-borne microbes are adapted to abiotic stresses and how they can protect host plants against these constraints are also matters of interest. This Frontiers Research Topic will focus on the ecology and management of soil microorganisms inhabiting the rhizosphere. Understanding how these microbial communities, both beneficial and deleterious, interact among them and with the host plant, as well as how they respond to (a)biotic environmental cues, is instrumental for the effective and sustainable implementation of biological control measures of noxious organisms like plant parasitic nematodes or fungi. Many microorganisms, including but not limited to soil fungi and bacteria, can control pest, pathogen and weeds populations in the rhizosphere. Others can be effective in protecting or helping target plants against abiotic stresses. However, in spite of the large number of research efforts carried out, important information is still missing. We encourage submission of research reports as well as reviews concerning the role of microbial communities in the rhizosphere, highlighting their potential for root health and the entire plant protection and fitness.


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