‘Plant Probiotics’ to improve crop yield and quality

03 Mar 2021

A new research paper titled ‘Identification of Beneficial Microbial Consortia and Bioactive Compounds with Potential as Plant Biostimulants for a Sustainable Agriculture’ was published by the SIMBA consortium in February of 2021. Published in Microorganisms the paper was a collaboration between eight SIMBA partners: ENEA, Agriges SRL, Bielefeld University, SITEIA.PARMA, University of Bonn, University of Copenhagen, CCS Aosta SRL, and Luke.

The aim of the research was to develop synthetic microbial consortia that could be used to improve crop yield and quality. The Plant Growth-Promoting Microorganisms (PGPMs) that were used to make up the consortia were identified through a comprehensive literature review of PGPMs associated with maize, wheat, potato and tomato plants. Metagenome fragment recruitment, a methodology used to identify genes and functions of microorganisms in a sample, was carried out in order to further identify plant growth promoting strains. Once it was established that the strains could co-exist they were assembled into three synthetic consortia that can now be taken forward for greenhouse and open field trials.

This research is the first step in identifying synthetic microbial consortia which could be used to increase crop yields and improve food production. Much like healthy microbiomes have health benefits for humans, PGPMs can increase plant resistance to pathogens as well as biotic and abiotic stresses. We can make use of these ‘plant probiotics’ for more environmentally friendly management of crops, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilisers in agriculture, promoting soil fertility and improving plant health and productivity.

The paper is available to download via the SIMBA website.