Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 101, Issue 12, pp 4871–4881 | Cite as

Biofertilizers and sustainable agriculture: exploring arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

  • Nicholas O. Igiehon
  • Olubukola O. BabalolaEmail author


Worldwide agricultural food production has to double in 2050 so as to feed the global increasing population while reducing dependency on conventional chemical fertilizers plus pesticides. To accomplish this objective, there is the need to explore the several mutualistic interactions between plant roots and rhizosphere microbiome. Biofertilization is the process of boosting the abundance of microorganisms such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the natural plant rhizosphere which depicts a beneficial alternative to chemical fertilization practices. Mineral nutrients uptake by AMF are plausible by means of transporters coded for by different genes and example include phosphate transporter. These fungi can be produced industrially using plant host and these, including the possibility of AMF contamination by other microorganism, are factors militating against large scale production of AMF. AMF isolates can be inoculated in the greenhouse or field, and it has been shown that AMF survival and colonization level were enhanced in soybeans grown on land that was previously cultivated with the same plant. Next generation sequencing (NGS) is now used to gain insight into how AMF interact with indigenous AMF and screen for beneficial microbial candidates. Besides application as biofertilizers, novel findings on AMF that could contribute to maintenance of agricultural development include AMF roles in controlling soil erosion, enhancing phytoremediation, and elimination of other organisms that may be harmful to crops through common mycelia network. The combination of these potentials when fully harnessed under agricultural scenario will help to sustain agriculture and boost food security globally.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Biofertilizer Chemical fertilizer Food security Next generation sequencing Soybean 



South Africa’s National Research Foundation/The World Academy of Science African Renaissance granted NOI Doctoral Scholarships. OOB would like to thank the National Research Foundation, South Africa for grant (UID81192) that has supported research in our lab.

Compliance with ethical standards


The study was funded by South Africa’s National Research Foundation grant (UID81192) and South Africa’s National Research Foundation/The World Academy of Science African Renaissance Scholarship.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Food Security and Safety Niche, Faculty of Agriculture, Science and TechnologyNorth-West UniversityMmabathoSouth Africa

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