Microbial diversity refers to the variety of microbes that live in various habitats, such as bacteria, fungus, viruses, and archaea. Due to their contributions to soil fertility, plant growth, and crop protection, microbes are crucial to agriculture (Fierer & Lennon, 2011; Mohanty & Swain, 2018; Odelade & Babalola, 2019).

We'll talk about the value of microbial biodiversity in agriculture and how it supports sustainable farming in this blog.

Importance of Microbial Biodiversity

The decomposition of organic matter, which releases nutrients for plant growth, is carried out by soil microbes. Mineralization is the process by which organic matter is transformed into inorganic nutrients that are readily assimilated by plants. The development of soil aggregates, which enhance soil structure and water-holding capacity, is also facilitated by microbes (Cheng & Kuzyakov, 2005; Hallett & Young, 1999; Helgason et al., 2010).

Rhizosphere microbes, which live in the soil around plant roots, are essential for plant growth. These microorganisms can also create compounds that encourage plant growth, such as auxins, cytokinins, and gibberellins, and they aid plants in absorbing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphate. These elements promote plant growth and development, which raises crop output and quality (Gupta et al., 2015; Khatoon et al., 2020; Kumar et al., 2015; Kumar, 2016; Nihorimbere et al., 2011).

Microbes can also aid in crop protection by keeping crops free of pests and diseases. Antibiotics and other bioactive substances that suppress the growth of plant diseases are produced by some soil-borne microorganisms. Moreover, some microorganisms, like mycorrhizal fungi, can collaborate with plants to benefit the plant's resistance to illness (Ab Rahman et al., 2018; Jung et al., 2012; Morgan et al., 2005).

Microbial Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture

Agriculture must maintain microbial biodiversity if it is to be sustained. A decrease in microbial diversity may result from the rise in monoculture in agriculture during the past few years. Growing only one crop on a big scale, or monoculture, can reduce the fertility of the soil and increase plant diseases and pests. For the preservation of healthy soils and the advancement of sustainable agriculture, microbial diversity is crucial (Altieri, 1998; HE et al., 2019; Peralta et al., 2018; Power & Follett, 1987; Singh, 2021).

Crop rotations, cover crops, and the use of microbial inoculants are some of the techniques that can be used to incorporate microbial biodiversity into agricultural processes. Growing several crops successively can help maintain soil fertility and lower insect and disease burdens. This practice is known as crop rotation. In order to increase the amount of nutrients in the soil and strengthen the soil structure, cover cropping entails growing a non-cash crop in between the primary crop. To boost microbial variety and enhance plant growth, microbial inoculants are microbial preparations that can be added to soil or seed (Guerrieri et al., 2020; Shrestha, 2005).

Food security

Food security also heavily depends on microbial biodiversity. By 2050, the world's population is predicted to reach 9.7 billion, and agriculture will need to produce more food to keep up with the rising demand. By promoting soil fertility and plant growth, defending crops from pests and diseases, and lowering the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, microbial diversity can help enhance agricultural yields and improve food security (Arora, 2018, 2019; Elferink & Schierhorn, 2016; Imathiu, 2020; Preece & Peñuelas, 2020).

Nutrient cycling, which is crucial for plant development and food production, is mostly controlled by microbes. Organic matter in the soil is broken down by microbes, releasing nutrients that plants can take up. The long-term preservation of soil fertility and the development of high-quality crops both depend on this process (Brady & Weil, 1999; De GRAAFF et al., 2006; Lavelle & Martin, 1992; Palm et al., 1997; Tittonell et al., 2008).

Moreover, microbes can aid in the defense of crops against pests and diseases, lowering crop losses and enhancing food security. For instance, some bacteria can create substances that are poisonous to insects, while other bacteria can compete with plant pathogens for resources, which lessens their capacity to spread illness (Ab Rahman et al., 2018; Christou & Twyman, 2004; Orrell & Bennett, 2013).

Reducing the usage of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, which can have detrimental effects on both the environment and human health, is another benefit of incorporating microbial biodiversity into agricultural methods. We can build a more resilient and sustainable agricultural system that can supply food to a growing population by encouraging healthy soils and minimizing the need for chemicals (Arif et al., 2020; ESCAP, 2012; Lowry et al., 2019; Meena et al., 2020).


In conclusion, agriculture and food security are greatly impacted by microbial biodiversity. The health of the soil is influenced by microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and algae, which improve soil fertility, nutrient cycling, and disease prevention. They are essential for producing fermented meals, enhancing food safety, and maintaining food quality. Microorganisms can also be employed to create bio pesticides, bio fertilizers, and other bio-based products that can replace chemical inputs, minimizing the adverse effects on the environment. Food security is threatened by the loss of microbial variety brought on by intensive farming methods, degraded soil, and climate change. Thus, it is crucial to promote sustainable agricultural techniques including crop rotation, intercropping, and agroforestry that support the preservation of microbial diversity. In order to improve food security and sustainability, research on microbial diversity and its role in agriculture must continue to produce more effective and environmentally friendly solutions.


Ab Rahman, S. F. S., Singh, E., Pieterse, C. M., & Schenk, P. M. (2018). Emerging microbial biocontrol strategies for plant pathogens. Plant science, 267, 102-111.

Altieri, M. A. (1998). Ecological impacts of industrial agriculture and the possibilities for truly sustainable farming. Monthly Review, 50(3), 60.

Arif, I., Batool, M., & Schenk, P. M. (2020). Plant microbiome engineering: expected benefits for improved crop growth and resilience. Trends in biotechnology, 38(12), 1385-1396.

Arora, N. K. (2018). Agricultural sustainability and food security. Environmental Sustainability, 1(3), 217-219.

Arora, N. K. (2019). Impact of climate change on agriculture production and its sustainable solutions. Environmental Sustainability, 2(2), 95-96.

Brady, N. C., & Weil, R. R. (1999). Soil organic matter. The nature and properties of soils. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 446-490.

Cheng, W., & Kuzyakov, Y. (2005). Root effects on soil organic matter decomposition. Roots and soil management: Interactions between roots and the soil, 48, 119-143.

Christou, P., & Twyman, R. M. (2004). The potential of genetically enhanced plants to address food insecurity. Nutrition research reviews, 17(1), 23-42.

De GRAAFF, M. A., Van GROENIGEN, K. J., Six, J., Hungate, B., & van Kessel, C. (2006). Interactions between plant growth and soil nutrient cycling under elevated CO2: a meta‐analysis. Global Change Biology, 12(11), 2077-2091.

Elferink, M., & Schierhorn, F. (2016). Global demand for food is rising. Can we meet it. Harvard business review, 7(04), 2016.

ESCAP, U. (2012). Organic agriculture gains ground on mitigating climate change and improving food security: healthy food from healthy soil.

Fierer, N., & Lennon, J. T. (2011). The generation and maintenance of diversity in microbial communities. American journal of botany, 98(3), 439-448.

Guerrieri, M. C., Fanfoni, E., Fiorini, A., Trevisan, M., & Puglisi, E. (2020). Isolation and screening of extracellular PGPR from the rhizosphere of tomato plants after long-term reduced tillage and cover crops. Plants, 9(5), 668.

Gupta, G., Parihar, S. S., Ahirwar, N. K., Snehi, S. K., & Singh, V. (2015). Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR): current and future prospects for development of sustainable agriculture. J Microb Biochem Technol, 7(2), 096-102.

Hallett, P., & Young, I. (1999). Changes to water repellence of soil aggregates caused by substrate‐induced microbial activity. European Journal of Soil Science, 50(1), 35-40.

HE, H.-m., LIU, L.-n., Munir, S., Bashir, N. H., Yi, W., Jing, Y., & LI, C.-y. (2019). Crop diversity and pest management in sustainable agriculture. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 18(9), 1945-1952.

Helgason, B., Walley, F., & Germida, J. (2010). No-till soil management increases microbial biomass and alters community profiles in soil aggregates. Applied Soil Ecology, 46(3), 390-397.

Imathiu, S. (2020). Benefits and food safety concerns associated with consumption of edible insects. NFS journal, 18, 1-11.

Jung, S. C., Martinez-Medina, A., Lopez-Raez, J. A., & Pozo, M. J. (2012). Mycorrhiza-induced resistance and priming of plant defenses. Journal of chemical ecology, 38, 651-664.

Khatoon, Z., Huang, S., Rafique, M., Fakhar, A., Kamran, M. A., & Santoyo, G. (2020). Unlocking the potential of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria on soil health and the sustainability of agricultural systems. Journal of environmental management, 273, 111118.

Kumar, A., Bahadur, I., Maurya, B., Raghuwanshi, R., Meena, V., Singh, D., & Dixit, J. (2015). Does a plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria enhance agricultural sustainability. J Pure Appl Microbiol, 9(1), 715-724.

Kumar, V. V. (2016). Plant growth-promoting microorganisms: interaction with plants and soil. Plant, Soil and Microbes: Volume 1: Implications in Crop Science, 1-16.

Lavelle, P., & Martin, A. (1992). Small-scale and large-scale effects of endogeic earthworms on soil organic matter dynamics in soils of the humid tropics. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 24(12), 1491-1498.

Lowry, G. V., Avellan, A., & Gilbertson, L. M. (2019). Opportunities and challenges for nanotechnology in the agri-tech revolution. Nature nanotechnology, 14(6), 517-522.

Meena, R. S., Kumar, S., Datta, R., Lal, R., Vijayakumar, V., Brtnicky, M., . . . Jangir, C. K. (2020). Impact of agrochemicals on soil microbiota and management: A review. Land, 9(2), 34.

Mohanty, S., & Swain, C. K. (2018). Role of microbes in climate smart agriculture. Microorganisms for Green Revolution: Volume 2: Microbes for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem, 129-140.

Morgan, J., Bending, G., & White, P. (2005). Biological costs and benefits to plant–microbe interactions in the rhizosphere. Journal of experimental botany, 56(417), 1729-1739.

Nihorimbere, V., Ongena, M., Smargiassi, M., & Thonart, P. (2011). Beneficial effect of the rhizosphere microbial community for plant growth and health. Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement, 15(2).

Odelade, K. A., & Babalola, O. O. (2019). Bacteria, fungi and archaea domains in rhizospheric soil and their effects in enhancing agricultural productivity. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(20), 3873.

Orrell, P., & Bennett, A. E. (2013). How can we exploit above–belowground interactions to assist in addressing the challenges of food security? Frontiers in plant science, 4, 432.

Palm, C. A., Myers, R. J., & Nandwa, S. M. (1997). Combined use of organic and inorganic nutrient sources for soil fertility maintenance and replenishment. Replenishing soil fertility in Africa, 51, 193-217.

Peralta, A. L., Sun, Y., McDaniel, M. D., & Lennon, J. T. (2018). Crop rotational diversity increases disease suppressive capacity of soil microbiomes. Ecosphere, 9(5), e02235.

Power, J., & Follett, R. (1987). Monoculture. Scientific American, 256(3), 78-87.

Preece, C., & Peñuelas, J. (2020). A return to the wild: root exudates and food security. Trends in plant science, 25(1), 14-21.

Shrestha, N. (2005). Becoming a development category Power of development (pp. 259-270): Routledge.

Singh, M. (2021). Organic farming for sustainable agriculture. Indian Journal of Organic Farming, 1(1), 1-8.

Tittonell, P., Corbeels, M., Van Wijk, M. T., Vanlauwe, B., & Giller, K. E. (2008). Combining organic and mineral fertilizers for integrated soil fertility management in smallholder farming systems of Kenya: Explorations using the crop‐soil model FIELD. Agronomy Journal, 100(5), 1511-1526. 

About the Author: Qudrat Ullah and Etisam Mazhar are the MPhil scholars of Environmental Sciences at Government College University Faisalabad, Pakistan.