Diamonds in the rough: Dryland microorganisms are ecological engineers to restore degraded land and mitigate desertification

Ramona Marasco*, Jean Baptiste Ramond, Marc W. Van Goethem, Federico Rossi, Daniele Daffonchio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Our planet teeters on the brink of massive ecosystem collapses, and arid regions experience manifold environmental and climatic challenges that increase the magnitude of selective pressures on already stressed ecosystems. Ultimately, this leads to their aridification and desertification, that is, to simplified and barren ecosystems (with proportionally less microbial load and diversity) with altered functions and food webs and modification of microbial community network. Thus, preserving and restoring soil health in such a fragile biome could help buffer climate change's effects. We argue that microorganisms and the protection of their functional properties and networks are key to fight desertification. Specifically, we claim that it is rational, possible and certainly practical to rely on native dryland edaphic microorganisms and microbial communities as well as dryland plants and their associated microbiota to conserve and restore soil health and mitigate soil depletion in newly aridified lands. Furthermore, this will meet the objective of protecting/stabilizing (and even enhancing) soil biodiversity globally. Without urgent conservation and restoration actions that take into account microbial diversity, we will ultimately, and simply, not have anything to protect anymore.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1603-1610
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Volume16
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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