Special Issue "Microbial Root Symbionts in Plant Production: Getting to the Bottom"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Farming Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Hannes A. Gamper
Guest Editor
Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Universitätsplatz 5-university square, 5, Bozen-Bolzano 39100, Italy
Interests: change adaptation; ecological intensification; legumes; microbial community assembly; mycorrhiza; physiological ecology; root nodule symbiosis; stress alleviation; selective association; symbiotic preference

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I invite you to contribute to this Special Issue of Agronomy in the section Farming Sustainability. We seek contributions that report context-dependent effects of microbial root symbionts on crop performance (growth, yield, health, and so on) and distinct patterns of association. Particularly welcome are effects and patterns that originate from experiments, but reports of findings from surveys with a statistically sound sampling scheme will be accepted as well. Of great interest are studies on knock-on effects for the crop plant, or context-dependent microbe–microbe interactions, particularly when directly from field settings, or an experiment mimicking alternative close-to-field conditions. Thorough reviews providing clear messages and resulting in the proposition of new conceptual frameworks are also welcome. All contributions have to report microbe–crop interactions and address clear questions and test sound predictions, based on biochemical, soil chemical, or physical mechanistic understanding from biological, ecological, or agronomic model systems. Exceptions may be made if a well-explained ecological–evolutionary theory relevant to agricultural production is tested or widely accepted beliefs are overturned.

We ask the authors to provide sufficient contextual information in the Introduction and Materials and Methods sections to be able to fully appreciate the meaning of reported findings. We encourage interpretation and a critical discussion of study outcomes as to their actual meaning for production (negative, neutral, beneficial, or variable) under standard agricultural practices or any microbe-conscious cultivation method.

The groups of studied microbial symbionts shall be mutualists, commensals, or parasites, and most welcome are interactions between any of those. Particularly interesting will be reports of changing symbiotic relationships, depending on the age of the symbiosis or crop, or the growth conditions.

No exclusion criteria are set with respect to the employed analytical methods as long as they are sound and reciprocally supporting each other.

If you are fed up of twisting findings to fit a certain mind set and can share your message based on thorough research outcomes, this Special Issue of Agronomy is just the right place for your publication.

Dr. Hannes A. Gamper
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Biological control
  • Biotic soil legacy
  • Endophytes
  • Microbe–microbe and microbe–plant competition
  • Microbial support systems
  • Mycorrhizal fungi
  • Parasites
  • Root health and functioning
  • Plant–microbe interactions
  • Priority effects
  • Root-associated microbes
  • Rhizobia

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Mutualistic Fungal Endophyte Colletotrichum tofieldiae Ct0861 Colonizes and Increases Growth and Yield of Maize and Tomato Plants
Agronomy 2020, 10(10), 1493; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101493 - 01 Oct 2020
Facing rising global food demand in a sustainable way is a great challenge of modern agriculture. Thus, the increase of crop productivity and resilience in an adverse climate scenario is urgently needed. Fungal endophytes have been described as potential biological tools to improve [...] Read more.
Facing rising global food demand in a sustainable way is a great challenge of modern agriculture. Thus, the increase of crop productivity and resilience in an adverse climate scenario is urgently needed. Fungal endophytes have been described as potential biological tools to improve plant yield and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses; however, their application in agriculture needs further research. The fungal endophyte Colletotrichum tofieldiae strain Ct0861 establishes a mutualistic interaction with Arabidopsis thaliana, promoting plant growth and silique production at low phosphate conditions. Until now, its ability to colonize and confer benefits to other plant species remained unexplored. Here, we show that Ct0861 colonizes and promotes growth in vitro of maize (Zea mays L.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) seedlings, resulting in significantly larger shoot length and weight. Greenhouse and field experiments in optimal nutritional conditions showed an increase between 12% and 22% of yield in both tomato and maize. The inoculated plants were not suffering from phosphate starvation, which points at different modes of action not elucidated yet. These results indicate that the beneficial effect of Ct0861 may extend to other plant species of economic importance, making Ct0861 a potentially valuable inoculant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Root Symbionts in Plant Production: Getting to the Bottom)
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