Article: article from journal or magazin.
The role of community and population ecology in applying mycorrhizal fungi for improved food security.
The global human population is expected to reach ∼9 billion by 2050. Feeding this many people represents a major challenge requiring global crop yield increases of up to 100%. Microbial symbionts of plants such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) represent a huge, but unrealized resource for improving yields of globally important crops, especially in the tropics. We argue that the application of AMF in agriculture is too simplistic and ignores basic ecological principals. To achieve this challenge, a community and population ecology approach can contribute greatly. First, ecologists could significantly improve our understanding of the determinants of the survival of introduced AMF, the role of adaptability and intraspecific diversity of AMF and whether inoculation has a direct or indirect effect on plant production. Second, we call for extensive metagenomics as well as population genomics studies that are crucial to assess the environmental impact that introduction of non-local AMF may have on native AMF communities and populations. Finally, we plead for an ecologically sound use of AMF in efforts to increase food security at a global scale in a sustainable manner.
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