Plant biodiversity promotes sustainable agriculture directly and via belowground effects

Elsevier, Trends in Plant Science, Volume 27, July 2022
Cappelli S.L., Domeignoz-Horta L.A., Loaiza V., Laine A.-L.

While the positive relationship between plant biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is well established, the extent to which this is mediated via belowground microbial processes is poorly understood. Growing evidence suggests that plant community structure influences soil microbial diversity, which in turn promotes functions desired for sustainable agriculture. Here, we outline the ‘plant-directed’ and soil microbe-mediated mechanisms expected to promote positive BEF. We identify how this knowledge can be utilized in plant diversification schemes to maximize ecosystem functioning in agroecosystems, which are typically species poor and sensitive to biotic and abiotic stressors. In the face of resource overexploitation and global change, bridging the gaps between biodiversity science and agricultural practices is crucial to meet food security in the Anthropocene.