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Engineering root microbiomes for healthier crops and soils using beneficial, environmentally safe bacteria.


The Green Revolution developed new crop varieties, which greatly improved food security worldwide. However, the growth of these plants relied heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which have led to an overuse of synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides with serious environmental consequences and negative effects on human health. Environmentally friendly plant-growth-promoting methods to replace our current reliance on synthetic chemicals and to develop more sustainable agricultural practices to offset the damage caused by many agrochemicals are proposed herein. The increased use of bioinoculants, which consist of microorganisms that establish synergies with target crops and influence production and yield by enhancing plant growth, controlling disease, and providing critical mineral nutrients, is a potential solution. The microorganisms found in bioinoculants are often bacteria or fungi that reside within either external or internal plant microbiomes. However, before they can be used routinely in agriculture, these microbes must be confirmed as nonpathogenic strains that promote plant growth and survival. In this article, besides describing approaches for discovering plant-growth-promoting bacteria in various environments, including phytomicrobiomes and soils, we also discuss methods to evaluate their safety for the environment and for human health.

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