Research on Plant Microbes May Help with Global Food Security

A recent news article discusses the impact of plant/soil microbiome research on agriculture, specifically helping feed a projected 9 million people in 2050. Novozymes and other corporations are working with researchers and farmers to make microbial products that help promote and optimize plant growth in various ways (for instance, drought tolerance). The idea sounds a bit like probiotics for plants. Perhaps food crops (and humans) can benefit from just being inoculated by a species or community of microbes, but this has not yet been confirmed. These companies are planning on testing what effect, if any, certain species of microbes have on plant growth and health. They’re also doing a massive field test, investigating 2,000 microbial species on 500,000 plots of land. It would be really exciting if some of these beneficial microbes or community types can be turned into a product that will help agriculture move forward. I also liked that Novozymes tried not to over-sell it. They admitted that it’s not a cure-all for solving our problems for agriculture. I’d even say there’s even a real chance that just inoculating plants with microbes isn’t enough to give them growth or health benefits. Guess we’ll see what happens!

On a side note, I doubt their research will be published openly, but it would be really great if it were. I want to know how their field test goes, and I’m sure others do too.

 

Via Flickr, public domain license.
Via Flickr, public domain license.

Leave a Reply

Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev is a recent UC Davis graduate with a BS in microbiology working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on aquariums as part of the microbiology of the built environment.