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The use of microbial plant protection products is growing and their importance will strongly increase due to political and public pressure. World population is growing and the amount of food needed by 2050 will be double of what is produced now whereas the area of agricultural land is decreasing. We must increase crop yield in a sustainable way. Chemical plant growth promoters must be replaced by microbiological products. Also here, the use of microbial products is growing and their importance will strongly increase. A growing area of agricultural land is salinated. Global warming will increase this process. Plants growth is inhibited by salt or even made impossible and farmers tend to disuse the most salinated lands. Microbes have been very successfully used to alleviate salt stress of plants. Chemical pollution of land can make plant growth difficult and crops grown are often polluted and not suitable for consumption. Microbes have been used to degrade these chemical pollutants.
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Plants interact with small organisms in their environment, such as bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, nematodes and insects. Some of these can cause diseases and pests whereas others can have a plant-beneficial action, such as (i) protecting plants against diseases, (ii) enhancing plant growth and productivity, (iii) reducing plant stresses caused by attackers, draught and salts, and (iv) cleaning soils from pollutants.
Our understanding of plant-microbe interactions advances rapidly and the application of beneficial microbes in agriculture and horticulture - presently USD 1.7 billion annually - is increasing fast. Therefore, there is a strong need to present the principles of these interactions to a broad public. In this book, the basics of all interactions mentioned above are explained in an easily understandable way. Modern state-of-the-art technology on visualization of these interactions and on DNA techniques will be highlighted. Successful examples of progress are presented in the section “Paradigms of Plant-Microbe Interactions”. Finally, a number of innovative ongoing research projects will be presented.
Presently, plants are mainly protected from diseases and pests by using agrochemicals. However, many of these chemicals pollute the environment and can be a health threat for animals and humans. This book show that microbes can help to reduce chemical input and can also be used in combination with chemicals, or even replace agrochemicals. It is generally accepted that the use of microbes will cause a breakthrough in agriculture and horticulture, making it more sustainable in a cost-effective way. Major chemical companies are buying microbial biotech companies.
This book is aimed at everybody working in or interested in one of the many fields of plant-microbe interactions and who wants to become quickly familiar with (other) aspects of this broad field.
Prof. Lugtenberg is well-known expert in his field (beneficial bacteria which kill plant-pathogenic fungi or promote plant growth), appreciated for publication record and editing job, with a significant network. Used to play several important roles within the community, e.g. President of the International Society of Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.
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