‘Soil probiotics’ promise bigger, healthier crops, but there’s a downside

Frew, Adam (2018) ‘Soil probiotics’ promise bigger, healthier crops, but there’s a downside. The Conversation, 23 October 2018. pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

More than half the world’s plant-derived energy intake comes from just three crops: rice, wheat and maize. These crops, like most land plants, live in an evolutionarily ancient partnership with a certain type of fungus, called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

These fungi penetrate plants’ roots, even entering the root cells themselves. In a win-win relationship, the fungi provide the plants with crucial nutrients and the
plant provides the fungi with sugar.

By helping plants take up nutrients from the soil, these fungi can enhance crop yields, increase pest resistance, and reduce the need for fertiliser. So it’s hardly surprising that there has been a long-held interest in harnessing these soil-dwelling fungi for agriculture.

But our research shows that in some cases these fungi can harm crops instead of helping them. This means we need to proceed with caution in pursuing the benefits of using these fungi as fertilisers.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version made available in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences (1 July 2013 - 5 Sept 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences (1 July 2013 - 5 Sept 2019)
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 06:28
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2020 01:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050303 Soil Biology
06 Biological Sciences > 0605 Microbiology > 060504 Microbial Ecology
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/37492

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