Shaping an Optimal Soil by Root–Soil Interaction

Crop production depends on the availability of water and mineral nutrients, and increased yields might be facilitated by a greater focus on roots–soil interactions. Soil properties affecting plant growth include drought, compaction, nutrient deficiency, mineral toxicity, salinity, and submergence. Plant roots respond to the soil environment both spatially and temporally by avoiding stressful soil environments and proliferating in more favorable environments. We observe that crops can be bred for specific root architectural and biochemical traits that facilitate soil exploration and resource acquisition, enabling greater crop yields. These root traits affect soil physical and chemical properties and might be utilized to improve the soil for subsequent crops. We argue that optimizing root–soil interactions is a prerequisite for future food security.

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DOI 10.1016/j.tplants.2017.07.008
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