About this Research Topic
Plants interact with a huge number of diverse microorganisms. Some of these are able to promote plant growth and health. The microbes involved are classified in various taxa and include bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi, mycorrhizal or not, and exert their beneficial role in various ways: i) they improve plant mineral nutrition by solubilizing non-available resources and/or transferring nutrients to the roots; ii) they act as biological control agents; iii) they affect the plant hormonal balance by producing plant hormones, like indoleacetic acid, or affecting their production by the plant, as in the case of the ACC-deaminase mediated inhibition of ethylene biosynthesis. The increased yield of plants inoculated with beneficial microbes can be associated with additional advantages, such as the reduction of chemical inputs for fertilization and pest control, resulting in more sustainable practices compared to conventional agriculture, the possibility to exploit saline, contaminated or poor soils, and the ability to tolerate environmental stresses such as drought.
In addition to these features, the inoculation with beneficial microorganisms can also promote changes in the quality of crops. This definition concerns, in particular, the production of health promoting phytochemicals, such as phenolic compounds, vitamins, carotenoids and glucosinolates, to be introduced in the human or animal diet; during their evolutionary history, plants, being sessile organisms, have evolved the ability to synthesize such molecules in order to cope with stress. Foods rich with such molecules are sometimes described as “functional foods” and their consumption is recommended to prevent several chronic or acute diseases. Consumers and industry are more and more interested and focused on these quality parameters.
While several papers have been published on this topic, research has been carried out in a sparse way; the terms “product quality” were rarely included in the keywords. In this Research Topic we aim to collect contributions from researchers working in different areas; the resulting information will help to (i) focus the applications for beneficial microorganisms, providing suggestions and directions about their utility and use in crop production, with the perspective of higher economical return and nutritional value of products, and lower environmental impact; (ii) provide new strategies for the definition of typical products, relying on specific interactions with microbes characteristic or dominant under certain conditions or in specific areas; (iii) better understand the mechanisms of plant-microbe interactions; (iv) identify biological and agronomic aspects of product quality that require further investigation.
This Research Topic welcomes Original Research and Opinion and Perspectives articles concerning the effects of beneficial soil microbes, with special reference to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, other root-endophytic fungi and plant growth-promoting bacteria, on the health-promoting properties of crops, including all food plants.
Keywords: Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria, Product Quality, Crops, Plant-Microbe Interactions
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.