Giuditta PEROZZI

Scientific Expert, Directorate General for Cultural and Economic Promotion and Innovation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) , Rome, ITALY

Friday 14 February 2020 |12:00 noon – ICGEB Trieste, ITALY

Microbiome research in the field of agri-food: from soil to plants, from crops to food

Host: V. Venturi

Microbiome research is acquiring increasing importance in all fields of science. The release of the initial sequencing of “our other genome” in the beginning of the past decade, revived interest toward complex microbial consortia and their health-promoting components. Such interest quickly expanded well beyond human clinical applications, raising awareness on the potential impact of microbial interactions with higher organisms in other living kingdoms including plants and agronomically important crops. Besides bacteria and fungal diseases, microbial communities below (rhizosphere) and above ground (phyllosphere) can greatly contribute to plant health by increasing tolerance to environmental stresses, whose negative effects on plant growth and development are constantly increasing as a result of climate change. Biodiversity of these microbial communities represents a crucial asset, which is presently being threatened by the extensive use of pesticides and herbicides. An important challenge for sustainable agriculture is therefore the identification of bacterial and fungi (i.e. mycorrhiza) species that could either promote plant growth by increasing the nutrient/ water assimilation capacity of the roots, or act as bio-pesticides, thus supporting persistence of the beneficial effects of plant microbiomes on growth and development. Closing the circle, the plant- microbiome also represents a vehicle of live environmental bacteria/fungi that plants can contribute to the gut microbiota/mycobiota through the food/feed chain, leading to further impacts on animal and human health.