2021 journal article
Managing Plant Microbiomes for Sustainable Biofuel Production
Phytobiomes Journal, 5(1), 3–13.
The development of environmentally sustainable, economical, and reliable sources of energy is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Large-scale cultivation of cellulosic feedstock crops (henceforth, bioenergy crops) is considered one of the most promising renewable sources for liquid transportation fuels. However, the mandate to develop a viable cellulosic bioenergy industry is accompanied by an equally urgent mandate to deliver not only cheap reliable biomass but also ecosystem benefits, including efficient use of water, nitrogen, and phosphorous; restored soil health; and net negative carbon emissions. Thus, sustainable bioenergy crop production may involve new agricultural practices or feedstocks and should be reliable, cost effective, and minimal input, without displacing crops currently grown for food production on fertile land. In this editorial perspective for the Phytobiomes Journal Focus Issue on Phytobiomes of Bioenergy Crops and Agroecosystems, we consider the microbiomes associated with bioenergy crops, the effects beneficial microbes have on their hosts, and potential ecosystem impacts of these interactions. We also address outstanding questions, major advances, and emerging biotechnological strategies to design and manipulate bioenergy crop microbiomes. This approach could simultaneously increase crop yields and provide important ecosystem services for a sustainable energy future.