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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Disease Modeling and Genetic Approaches to Enhance Wheat and Grass Seed Crop Biosecurity

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

Title: Using microbial community interactions within plant microbiomes to advance an evergreen agricultural revolution

Authors
item Lucero, M -
item Debold, S -
item Unc, A -
item Ruiz-Font, A -
item Reyes, L -
item Mcculley, R -
item ALDERMAN, STEPHEN
item DINKINS, RANDY
item Barrow, Jerry
item SAMAC, DEBORAH

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 25, 2013
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Food insecurity and environmental degradation represent serious challenges facing agricultural production. In this chapter we describe strategies for addressing these challenges by restoring functional microbial communities to agroecosystems and by utilizing comprehensive, interdisciplinary, cross-scale models of food systems to illustrate the immediate and long term, multi-scaled impacts of agricultural practices.

Technical Abstract: Innovative plant breeding and technology transfer fostered the Green Revolution, which transformed agriculture worldwide by increasing grain yields in developing countries. The Green Revolution temporarily alleviated world hunger, but also reduced biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration that agricultural lands can provide. Meanwhile, economic disparity and food insecurity within and among countries continues. Subsequent agricultural advances, which have typically been focused on narrow objectives such as increasing crop yields or reducing the risk of a specific pest, have failed to meet local scale food demands or to restore lost ecosystem services. Increasing human population, climate change, growing per capita food and energy demands, and reduced ecosystem potential to provide agriculturally relevant services have created an unrelenting need for improved crop production practices. Meeting this need in a sustainable fashion will require interdisciplinary approaches that integrate plant and microbial ecology with efforts to advance crop production while mitigating effects of a changing climate. Metagenomic advances are revealing microbial dynamics that can simultaneously enhance crop production and soil restoration while enhancing crop resistance to environmental change. Restoring microbial diversity to contemporary agroecosystems could restore lost ecosystem services while reducing production costs for large and small scale producers. Our framework for examining plant-microbial interactions at multiple scales, modeling outcomes to broadly explore potential impacts, and interacting with extension and training networks to transfer microbial based agricultural technologies across socioeconomic scales, offers an integrated strategy for advancing agroecosystem sustainability while minimizing potential for the kind of negative ecological and socioeconomic feedbacks that have resulted from many widely adopted agricultural technologies.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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