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BacPlant - Towards a sustainable agriculture by increasing plant tolerance to bioticstress under climatic change

Abstract :

Nowadays, agriculture must overcome unprecedented challenges. In addition to improving food supply to the one billion people currently malnourished, agriculture must meet new demand from growing population and competition for agricultural products from bioenergy production. Meantime there is high confidence that climate change (CC) will have great impacts on crop production in many parts of the world.

For the Mediterranean Basin, one of the potentially more vulnerable areas, we predict a rise of annual mean temperatures and a decline in the annual mean precipitation. In addition, drought period duration will be from 3 to 8 times more frequent than at present. Elevated temperatures and water deficit resulting from CC may considerably influence plant growth and development as their susceptibility to pathogens. In this situation, Mediterranean agriculture will need to adapt to CC. Furthermore, there is an increasing demand for "safe" agricultural products, with a reduced use of chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides).

Since, plants are surrounded by dense populations of Microbial biocontrol agents, which potentially allow them to better cope with biotic and abiotic stresses, there is a need to valorize them. There are currently an increasing number of results from both field and laboratory studies, which confirmed that inoculation with microbial biocontrol agents can have positive effects on plant health and growth. These beneficial microbes can also enhance plant resistance to several environmental stresses, e.g., drought, salinity, and nutrient deficiency. By moderating stress, these beneficial microorganisms opens novel avenues/possibilities for advanced technology through their use to inoculate plants or to deliver seeds coated with MBAs that are able to cope with stress and thereby increasing sustainability of production systems.

Our project will adopt environmentally sustainable strategy to face drought and heat effects while preserving or even improving crop yield, health and quality. Furthermore, the use of microbial biocontrol agents will improve soil quality by using low inputs, and mitigate carbon emissions in future climates.