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Human civilization and expansion in agriculture are directly correlated. We have extensively converted natural ecosystems to farmlands (Meehan et al., 2011). Unfortunately, when it comes to cropping systems, the soils have rapidly lost their fertility and potential to support the crop plants (Pérez-Jaramillo et al., 2018). This has led to widespread use of chemical interventions such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Although such chemical applications have shown short term dividends, we now know that this practice is not sustainable and affects human health and causing severe effects on our entire planet (Tripp, 1996).Biological interventions such as biofertilizers and biocontrol agents using microorganisms have been suggested as an alternate to hazardous chemicals (Adesemoye and Kloepper, 2009). This is a sustainable approach because soil microbes are naturally interacting with plants. Although these approaches have shown great promise in controlled environments like in growth chambers and in greenhouse, they have limited applicability in actual agricultural lands. The major hurdle in such implementation is that in a field scenario, the newly introduced biofertilizer/biocontrol microbes are outsmarted by naturally occurring soil microbiota. Thus, it is important to understand how the natural interactions between soil microbes occur, and use this information to design better biological interventions in agriculture.My research strategy is to understand natural ecosystem processes and how that affects microbe-microbe interactions, and progress this into crop systems. After all, all crop plants have their wild type and land race that preexisted the current vigorous agricultural practice. I intend to use these models to develop bioinoculum. Thus, research goals are to study plant associated microbial diversity, function and bioactivity, and how they influence plant health and plant-soil feedback. I have listed three major aspects of my immediate research priorities.Objective 1. Rhizosphere microbial functions and plant-soil feed back using meta-OMICSObjective 2. Culturing novel prokaryotes associated with plants and fungiObjective 3. Drug discovery - using triangular interactions between plant-fungi-bacteriaReferences:Adesemoye AO, Kloepper JW. (2009). Plant-microbes interactions in enhanced fertilizer-use efficiency. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 85: 1-12.Meehan TD, Werling BP, Landis DA, Gratton C. (2011). Agricultural landscape simplification and insecticide use in the Midwestern United States. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108: 11500-5.Pérez-Jaramillo JE, Carrión VJ, de Hollander M, Raaijmakers JM. (2018). The wild side of plant microbiomes. Microbiome 6: 143.Tripp R. (1996). Biodiversity and modern crop varieties: Sharpening the debate. Agric Human Values 13: 48-63.

Antony-babu, Sa, .
Texas A&M University
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