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Why farmers should manage the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis

Rillig, Matthias C.; Aguilar‐Trigueros, Carlos A.; Camenzind, Tessa; Cavagnaro, Timothy R.; Degrune, Florine; Hohmann, Pierre; Lammel, Daniel R.; Mansour, India; Roy, Julien; van der Heijden, Marcel G.A. and Yang, Gaowen (2019) Why farmers should manage the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. New Phytologist, Letter, pp. 1-5.

[thumbnail of Rillig_et_al-2019-New_Phytologist.pdf] PDF - English


The Tansley review by Ryan & Graham (2018) provided a welcome critical perspective on the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in large‐scale industrial agriculture, with a focus on cereals (wheat, Triticum aestivum). They conclude that there is little evidence that farmers should consider the abundance or diversity of AM fungi when managing crops. We welcome many of the points made in the paper, as they give an opportunity for self‐reflection, considering that the importance of AM fungi in agroecosystems is often taken for granted. However, we suggest that it is too early to draw the overall conclusion that the management of AM fungi by farmers is currently not warranted.
We offer the following points to contribute to the discussion. The first point pertains to the overall focus of Ryan & Graham (2018), which strongly determines the recommendations at which the authors arrive. This scope is limited to yield, at the expense of neglecting aspects of sustainability. We then argue that AM fungal communities do respond negatively to aspects of agricultural management, and list evidence for their positive effects to agronomically important traits, including yield in cereals. In our final argument, we advocate for transitioning to agroecosystems that are more AM compatible in order to increasingly take advantage of all the potential services these ancient symbionts, and other soil biota, can provide.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Agrovoc keywords:
Arbuscular mycorrhiza
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality > Soil biology
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Cereals, pulses and oilseeds
Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Crop husbandry > Breeding, genetics and propagation
Crop husbandry > Crop health, quality, protection
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Brazil > Other organizations
Switzerland > Agroscope
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Seeds and breeding > Plant breeding
Switzerland > Zürich University
Germany > University of Berlin - FU
European Union > Horizon 2020 > Liveseed
Netherlands > Other organizations
Australia > Other organizations
Deposited By: Hohmann, Dr. Pierre
ID Code:34929
Deposited On:19 Mar 2019 11:41
Last Modified:19 Jun 2023 09:41
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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