About this Research Topic
In this Second Edition of the Research Topic we consider some fundamental issues related to food production, focusing on the way yields have to increase to follow human demographic trends. There is still uncertainty about the feasibility of many plant protection strategies currently implemented in agro-ecosystems, worldwide. Plant pests and diseases, as well as weeds, are provoking heavy losses in agriculture and forestry. These biotic constraints are overwhelmingly controlled by means of chemical 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 became evident in the last decade. Considering that for economical, ecological, and food-safety reasons, many chemicals are not sustainable any more, 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 for 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 (physio-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 Second Edition Research Topic keeps its 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 effective and sustainable biocontrol of pathogens and pests. Many microorganisms, including but not limited to soil fungi and bacteria, can control pest, pathogen and weeds populations. 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.
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.