Microbial Biodiversity and Its Contributions to Agriculture and Food Security



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.


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


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