About this Research Topic
Beneficial microbes are a particularly important component of the plant microbiome, comprising (i) mycorrhizal fungi; (ii) symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and (iii) bacterial or fungal endophytes that promote plant growth. The roots of the majority of land plants are colonized by mycorrhizal fungi and form e.g. arbuscular mycorrhizal or ectomycorrhizal interactions. These symbiotic interactions contribute significantly to nutrient and water acquisition in plants, particularly in resource-limited environments. The mutualistic relationship between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules is one of the most agronomically important symbioses, and can also improve the nitrogen nutrition of non-legume crops in rotation systems. Actinorhizal symbioses also contribute to nitrogen fixation, improving the fitness of shrubs and trees growing on nutrient-limited soils. Fungal and bacterial endophytes reside in the roots of all plants, and many of these microbes considerably enhance the nutrient acquisition capabilities of their host. For example, some bacterial endophytes have the ability to fix gaseous nitrogen or to solubilize plant-unavailable phosphate and potassium resources in the soil.
Despite the well-known significance of these beneficial plant-microbe interactions for agricultural and agroforestry practices, many important steps in resource solubilization, acquisition and translocation, along with the related transport proteins, are still unknown. There is a growing interest in the use of these beneficial microbes as microbial fertilizers, or to design beneficial microbiomes for plants under different environmental stresses. However, unless key plant and microbial processes associated with the beneficial outcomes are well understood, these approaches will not reach their full potential.
This Research Topic welcomes the submission of Review, Opinion and Original Research articles that provide new insights into the ecology, molecular biology, and functionality of the interactions between plant roots and symbiotic microbes. In particular, we welcome authors to report recent knowledge on the key role of microbial communities in plant nutrition and fitness. This includes plant interactions with mycorrhizal fungi (arbuscular mycorrhizas, ectomycorrhizas, ericoid and orchid mycorrhizas, etc.); nitrogen-fixing bacteria, fungal and bacterial endophytes. We also welcome studies with a focus on the potential to harness or to engineer beneficial plant microbe interactions to improve the environmental sustainability of agroecosystems.
Keywords: Mycorrhizal symbiosis, Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Plant nutrition, Root endophytes, Transport
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