3.1 System-Level Knowledge of Phytobiomes Will Lead to More Environmentally Friendly Agricultural Production and Healthier Food, Feed, and Fiber

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 8:30 AM
Conference Center: Tahoma 5 (Washington State Convention Center )
Kellye Eversole, Phytobiomes Alliance, Bethesda, MD

To meet the demands of a global human population expected to exceed 9.6 billion by 2055, crop productivity in sustainable agricultural systems must improve considerably in the face of a steadily changing climate and increased biotic and abiotic stressors.  Traditional agricultural sciences have relied mostly on research within individual disciplines and reductionist approaches for crop improvement and production methods and practices. While significant advancements have been made in developing and characterizing genetic and genomic resources for crops, we still have a very limited understanding of genotype by environment x management (GxExM) interactions that determine productivity, sustainability, quality, and the ability to withstand biotic and abiotic stressors.  Embracing the use of a holistic, systems-level approach to  phytobiomes research would enable a paradigm shift in crop production by allowing us to elucidate, quantify, model, predict, act, manipulate, prevent, and ultimately prescribe the cropping systems, methods, and management practices most suited for a particular farm, grassland, or forest.  Using site-specific knowledge of the entire phytobiome, growers will be able to ensure that they are using the most efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly methods and practices on a given site thereby reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture.  In addition, the systems approach will help growers select crops and varieties that are most suited to (1) prevent the spread of human pathogens; (2) optimize the health and well-being of livestock and poultry; and (3) provide more nutritious, safe, and high quality food for the health and well-being of consumers.  Key components of the recently released roadmap entitled Phytobiomes: A Roadmap for Research and Translation and the new International Alliance for Phytobiomes Research, an industry-academic consortium, will be presented.
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