Agriculture and food microbiomes

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© María Luisa Maldonado

Micro-organisms play a fundamental role in agriculture and food production, representing a key and indispensable resource that underpins the agri-food sector. Microbiota in these systems perform an array of pivotal functions essential to system health, sustainability and productivity. Harnessing the natural power of microbes can provide solutions to global challenges of food security, resource limitation and climate change, leading to us to enforcing more efficient and sustainable food-production systems.

What are agricultural and food microbiomes?

Micro-organisms are involved in several aspects of food security. In plant agriculture they contribute to soil health, and can be used to increase yields and tackle pests and disease. They can be used to preserve foods through fermentation, create products such as bread and cheese, and enhance food flavour and nutrition. In the livestock industry, the gut microbiome can be targeted to increase feed efficiency and meat quality. 


Why do agricultural and food microbiomes matter? 

The growing global population presents the challenge of increasing food production and availability in a sustainable manner, whilst also ensuring adequate nutrition. Developments arising from research in the soil microbiome demonstrate how microbiology can contribute to achieving sustainable food production.

Read more about why the agriculture and food microbiomes matter to our members and the wider microbiology community, access our additional resources, and continue to read more about why the world of microbiomes matters to microbiology as we explore environmental and industrial microbiomes. 

  • Microbiologists working in this area

    To celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2020, we invited microbiologists to nominate the discovery or event that best showcases why microbiology matters and helps us demonstrate the impact of microbiologists past, present and future. Learn more about the microbiologists working in the area of agricultural and food microbiomes.

  • Resources and further reading

    Discover more about how the gut microbiome could influence livestock growth, how antimicrobial resistance can spread rapidly through wild bird populations and access various issue of Microbiology Today which highlight the importance of agriculture and food.

  • Environmental and industrial microbiomes

    From the impact of microbial communities in our oceans to soil microbes, our ability to investigate microbial communities in a wide range of environments across the globe has been transformed. Discover more about these fascinating communities here.


Image credits: 
Andre Antunes