Harnessing Soil Microbes to Improve Plant Phosphate Efficiency in Cropping Systems
Abstract, Agronomy, 2019
Phosphorus is an essential macronutrient required for plant growth and development. It is central to many biological processes, including nucleic acid synthesis, respiration, and enzymatic activity. However, the strong adsorption of phosphorus by minerals in the soil decreases its availability to plants, thus reducing the productivity of agricultural and forestry ecosystems. This has resulted in a complete dependence on non-renewable chemical fertilizers that are environmentally damaging. Alternative strategies must be identified and implemented to help crops acquire phosphorus more sustainably. In this review, we highlight recent advances in our understanding and utilization of soil microbes to both solubilize inorganic phosphate from insoluble forms and allocate it directly to crop plants. Specifically, we focus on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, ectomycorrhizal fungi, and phosphate-solubilizing bacteria. Each of these play a major role in natural and agroecosystems, and their use as bioinoculants is an increasing trend in agricultural practices.