Conventional agricultural practices negatively impact soil biodiversity, carbon stocks, and greenhouse gas emissions in ways that make them unsustainable for supporting future supply of food and fiber. Better management of agrobiodiversity will likely play a critical role in transitioning toward more sustainable practices. In particular, innovation and developments targeting the aboveground and belowground components of agroecosystems should be informed by frameworks and approaches that harness the—in particular functional—diversity of complex microbial communities. Here, we review and discuss microbial trait-based approaches that will help us understand and steer agroecosystem functioning in the face of global change. We highlight how trait-based approaches can improve agricultural practices related to soil functioning (e.g., soil fertility and aggregation); climate regulation (e.g., carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation to climate change; plant health; and reduction of contaminant-related hazards for human health. We also consider how microbial trait-based approaches can be used as a tool to improve cultivated plant performance through artificial selection and microbiome engineering. Last, we discuss the inherent obstacles associated with the development and implementation of trait-based approaches owing to strong interactions within microbial communities and linkages between plants and the soil environment. Despite these obstacles, microbial trait-based approaches hold promise for the sustainable management of agricultural ecosystems needed to feed and nourish a rapidly growing human population.
|Name||Advances in Agronomy|