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Biofertilizers
2021, 167-181

Microbial-based inoculants in sustainable agriculture: Current perspectives and future prospects

Ajinath Dukarea, Sangeeta Paulb, Roshan Kumarc, Vikas Sharmab

Horticultural Crop Processing Division, ICAR-CIPHET, Abohar, Punjab, India.

Abstract

The incessant use of agrochemicals for improved soil fertility and plant productivity has caused negative environmental impacts, including contamination of soil, groundwater, and aquifers. Hence, eco-friendly methods of plant and soil nutrient management are required to maintain sustained crop productivity and ecological stability. Beneficial microbial inoculants are potential elements of such management approaches. With the latest studies, this chapter summarizes the efforts in using beneficial microbes including plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and mycorrhizal fungi for improving plant growth and its nutritional quality in a sustained manner. Studies with many microbial inoculants have demonstrated their beneficial role in plant growth through effective root colonization and induction of plant growth support mechanisms. Direct plant growth support by root associated microbes is mediated through enhanced nutrient acquisition and hormonal activation. Numerous antifungal activities of microbes, associated with pathogen inhibition, are usually linked to providing superior plant growth. Some inoculants have been found useful in abiotic stress alleviation and nutritional fortification of edible crops. The use of modern scientific advances for improving performances of microbial inoculants under stressed agriculture is also gaining scientific attention. Overall, the exploitation of beneficial microorganisms and their useful interactions with plants offer promising and eco-friendly strategies in the development of organic agriculture globally.

Keywords: Sustainable agriculture, Microbial inoculants, Plant growth promotion, Direct mechanisms, Indirect mechanisms, biological control, Nanoscience.

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