Root Microbiota Plays Crucial Role in Sustainable Farming

We all know that the type of soil and whether or not it is filled with organic life are major factors that affect crop growth. Once we look even deeper into the connection between soil and plant growth, we can see that the relationship between microbial communities in the soil and root types plays a big impact on the growth and survival of plants.

Growers who understand how the interaction between organic life in the soil and root type affects plant yield can take steps to make their operations more efficient and sustainable.

Talia Galindo, a ROOTPHENBIOME Marie-Curie fellow from Switzerland, notes that soil microbes can be an invaluable resource for anyone in agriculture as they interact with plant roots and influence how the roots absorb natural and artificial nutrients as well as water from the soil.

In many ways, root microbiota can be compared to the gut biome in animals. The relationship between microbes in the soil is also cyclical; while the root microbiota will undoubtedly affect how the roots take up water and nutrients, the anatomy and structure of different root types will influence the formation of the root biome.

Galindo hypothesizes that the synergy between soil microbes and root traits can be leveraged to combat specific challenges that affect players in the modern agriculture industry. To determine how root biomes and intrinsic root traits impact each other, Galindo and a team of researchers planted maize in different soils with different nitrogen levels.

They used low-nitrogen levels for maize lines with contrasting anatomies and root structures to see how the root microbiome would react under high- and low-nitrogen levels. The team found that there was a “significant” link between root architectural traits and soil bacteria when nitrogen levels were low.

They believe that their results point to the possibility of choosing microbiomes that are resistant to low-nitrogen levels or those that can be paired with specific types of roots to encourage nitrogen uptake. Galindo states that plant breeders on the lookout for genetic markers that are associated with the recruitment of microbial communities could use her team’s experimental system to test their own plants.

Over the next couple of years, Galindo and her team hope to spread awareness of the relationship between root types and soil microbes to the general public, lawmakers and farmers. She concludes that these relationships are valuable resources that can help cultivars to develop superior plants that can recruit microbial communities for sustainable agriculture.

Firms such as Compass Minerals International Inc. (NYSE: CMP) provide a variety of plant nutrients, and it is incumbent upon a farmer to opt for those that will bring out the best in the root biota and trigger optimum plant performance.

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