, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 11-18

Plant–microbe interactions promoting plant growth and health: perspectives for controlled use of microorganisms in agriculture

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Abstract

Plant-associated microorganisms fulfill important functions for plant growth and health. Direct plant growth promotion by microbes is based on improved nutrient acquisition and hormonal stimulation. Diverse mechanisms are involved in the suppression of plant pathogens, which is often indirectly connected with plant growth. Whereas members of the bacterial genera Azospirillum and Rhizobium are well-studied examples for plant growth promotion, Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Serratia, Stenotrophomonas, and Streptomyces and the fungal genera Ampelomyces, Coniothyrium, and Trichoderma are model organisms to demonstrate influence on plant health. Based on these beneficial plant–microbe interactions, it is possible to develop microbial inoculants for use in agricultural biotechnology. Dependent on their mode of action and effects, these products can be used as biofertilizers, plant strengtheners, phytostimulators, and biopesticides. There is a strong growing market for microbial inoculants worldwide with an annual growth rate of approximately 10%. The use of genomic technologies leads to products with more predictable and consistent effects. The future success of the biological control industry will benefit from interdisciplinary research, e.g., on mass production, formulation, interactions, and signaling with the environment, as well as on innovative business management, product marketing, and education. Altogether, the use of microorganisms and the exploitation of beneficial plant–microbe interactions offer promising and environmentally friendly strategies for conventional and organic agriculture worldwide.