The future of sustainable agriculture

With a predicted global population of 9 billion by 2050, there is a need for increased, sustainable food production.  Additionally, climate change will have an effect on soil and crop health, due to changes in weather patterns and disease distribution.

Dr Philippe Rolshausen at the University of California in Riverside specialises in tree crops, viticulture and plant pathology. In today’s podcast, he explains the role plant microbiomes , and how increased understanding of small changes in plant environments is helping to improve crop health.

Read some of their latest work here:

Image source: Alberto Gardin /


[00:08] Will Mountford: Hello, I’m Will, welcome to Research Pod. There are two important numbers to think about as you listen to today’s podcast. The first is that the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold is a bottle of 1947 French Cheval Black that sold at auction for $304,375. The second number is that in 2014, the  UN Food and Agricultural Organization warned that global soils were degrading so quickly that they had in effect only 60 harvests left due to desertification.

Both of those numbers are somewhat out of proportion and not necessarily reflect the true values of what’s happening on planet Earth at the moment. But soil health and crop health are absolutely important to our survival on this planet and essential to the work of Philippe Rolshausen from the University of California Cooperative Extension.  Today we’re talking about the years long planning and the microscopic innovations that future harvests may yet need to survive. Philip, thank you so much for joining us today. Just by way of introduction, could you tell me and the folks listening at home a bit about yourself, where you’ve come from and where you are now?

[01:23] Philippe Rolshausen: Hello, I’m Philippe Rolshausen. I am a  French native, was born in France, and I got a bachelor degree in plant science at the University of Tours. Later on, I obtained my master’s at the University of Bordeaux in viticulture and moved to the United States where I got my PhD in plant pathology at the University of California in Davis. And in 2012, I was hired at the University of California in Riverside. And I currently hold the position as a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UCR.

[01:59] Will Mountford: What does an average day for a Cooperative Extension Specialist look like?

[02:03] Philippe Rolshausen: So we are publicly engaged scholars who ensure that the university research is applied to help California community to solve problems. So we are part of what’s called the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, also called UCANR. That is a statewide network of researcher and educators dedicated to the welfare of agricultural, natural, and human resources.

[02:30] Philippe Rolshausen: So my responsibilities focus on tree crops mostly, with an emphasis on subtropical agriculture. So I work commonly with citrus, grapes, avocado, coffee, mango, and I conduct applied research to extend the scientific knowledge and coordinate public outreach activities. So in a nutshell, that’s what I do.

[02:54] Will Mountford: It’s been, I suppose, a mounting  question over the last couple of decades. And with every new IPCC report, there seems to be more and more emphasis on we need to ensure planetary health to ensure public health, environment and human sustainability are very intricately linked. And I suppose in your own words, if I could ask you to explain to anyone listening to this, why crop health matters, if not to their life and to the well-being of the human species.

[03:23] Philippe Rolshausen: Well, from a grower standpoint, crop health equals revenue and profit. And for the state of California, it equals to jobs it’s a huge agricultural state. So that’s why it matters. I think at the global scale, we’re going to have to feed 9 billion people in 2050. So improving crop health is of huge importance, obviously. So, we are facing with several challenges. One of them is the shrinking ag-land. So we have to produce more per surface basis. That’s the number one. So crop health is obviously very important in that regard. And also, growers have to face more and more environmental challenges. So climate change is obviously the main one with extreme weather patterns and invasive pest and disease that will impact crop productivity. So if we can optimize crop health, that will help with those challenges that are coming up.

[04:28] Will Mountford: Well, to bring things to the more kind of immediate realm of your work. There is a biome to lots of things, not just in ecology, out in the world that you might have deserts and forests, any organism might have its own biome. There’s different kind of levels of involvement, even down to the microbiome thing about the bacteria inside of us. To kind of set the scale of the plant biome alongside human scales, because obviously, humans and plants have coexisted for so long, those microbiome or those macrobiome scales, how they interact and what kind of levels of involvement there are at each stage,

[05:08] Philippe Rolshausen: I think you can look at plants and humans as an assemblage of living organisms. So virus, bacteria, fungi, we are all living in a community as one organism, so to speak. And so the microbiome is the collection of all those organisms. And for both the human and plants, the microbiomes have similar functions. So in both cases, they help us absorb food. So for humans, specifically, they help us absorb carbon, vitamins, and so on and so forth. And there’s been a lot of research on the human gut microbiome. For agriculture, it’s a little different, but I think we’re far behind human research, although it has been expanding really quickly in the past 10 years, I would say. And now we look at the roots of the plants similar to the guts of the human.

[06:06] Philippe Rolshausen: Someone made the statement that actually plants, we have the gut on the outside, because the root of the plants are always called the rhizosphere, is the place where you have a large microbial activity and the microbiome helps plants absorb nutrients. And so that’s a similar function to the gut in that regard. The other function that the microbiome help with is against diseases and help us help plant and human cope with diseases and stress. So those are parallel that you can make between plants and humans with regards to the microbiome. So you have to look at plants, plants are not moving, right? Unlike humans, they can’t adapt by moving to a different environment. They are growing in one space and they have to adapt. So if you look at the continental scales, the major limiting factor to plants are daylight and temperature.

[07:06] Philippe Rolshausen: And those are obviously major driver to what crop you can grow. So for instance, you are not going to be able to grow a citrus plant in cold areas because citrus is very sensitive to frost. Whereas the citrus plants like grapes are flourishing in temperate climates. And so, and they do need cold weather to do better. If you try to grow a wine grape in a tropical environment, you will end up with poor wine quality. So that’s at the continental scale, that’s a major limiting factor. Like now you go down to a regional scale, plants are more dependent on topography, the soil climate or mesoclimates. And so factors that are limiting more like what variety you can grow.

[07:57] Philippe Rolshausen: So let’s say if you take grape as an example, Pinot Noir for instance, is a variety that does well or better in cooler climates. Whereas some other variety like Cabernet Sauvignon needs much hotter weather, longer day, longer season to develop all its characteristics. Now at the field level, which as you narrow down the scale, plants are more dependent on  microenvironment. So, for instance, the slope of a vineyard or an orchard can create poor air movement. And so, during frost, like plants can be more susceptible to frost pockets where you have poor air movements, for instance. Or if a crop is planted on a hard pen, you have poor drainage. And so your plants doesn’t perform as well because the water doesn’t drain well. Or another example, if you plant crops next to trees, trees cause shading to the plants. And so, the photosynthesis is not optimized. And so, the plants doesn’t perform as well.

[09:05] Philippe Rolshausen: So those are some microclimates that affect the plants as a whole, but also it affects the communities associated with the plants, the microbiome that’s living with the plants. So the microbes that are associated with the plant helps the plant cope with those different environmental challenges that it’s facing. And what plants do is that they send signal through the root system in the environment, in the rhizosphere to recruit microbes and they trade carbon in the form of sugar with microbes in exchange of services such as acquiring nutrients from the soil or increasing the root surface to absorb more water or fight off pathogen by producing antimicrobial compounds. So this is one mechanism on how plant can adapt to local environmental changes.

[10:06] Will Mountford: The global scale of the wine industry, it feels almost in opposition to those microclimate changes that can come to bear and that when you talk about the slope of a particular vineyard having an effect on the wind speed or the ice pockets that might form and what that can do to any one vineyard or any one vintage of the scale of the amount of wine produced in the world per year. Tiny details, very involved at the small scale and very productive at the large scale. And if you could just tell me more about that.

[10:37] Philippe Rolshausen:  Well, first of all, it depends when we talk about grapes, you have to separate table grapes from raisins from wine production, which are very different crops and with very different goals. Obviously for table raisin grapes, their goal is to produce high quality crops and lots of it. Whereas wine grapes, it’s a fine balance because when you   produce a lot, you kind of dilute quality.  So I think wine grape growers,  their goal should be  aiming for quality of the grapes.  And so it is a fine balance between vegetative growth  and reproductive growth.  And so microbes helps plants achieve   quality because they help  the plants assimilate some   of those nutrients that are  in the soil or they help the plants fight some of  those pathogens that naturally occurring.

[11:32] Will Mountford: And how can we connect   that microbial and that genetic changes  and protection to the wellbeing of  the wine, the crops, the terroir,  I’m still not saying that right,  I apologise, the terroir,  how does that tiny, tiny change  affect what ends up  in the bottle that people enjoy?

[11:52] Philippe Rolshausen: So we talked that the   regional scales, our plants are  limited by topography, the soil  characteristic and the climates.  In viticulture, those geographical  and environmental boundary  shape what’s called appellations.  So it is the place, appellations is  the place of origin of a wine  where wine is produced.  So in some countries, the appellation  also imposes the type of  variety that can grow, the yield you can   have, and also the alcohol content.  So, if you compare France and  the United States,  the appellation rules will be very different.  So terroir in French is the, originates  from the word terre,  which means land or soil.  But the meaning of the word  is more ecosystem.  So terroir and appellations are  comparable terms in the sense  that they both refer to the  identity of a wine region.  Although in my opinion, terroir  embodies the identity of a vineyard,  that includes not only the  characteristic of the soil,  but also the climate, the variety, and also the viticultural practices.

[13:01] Philippe Rolshausen: So for instance, if we talk about  organic versus conventional farming,  it will change the characteristic  of the wine and also  the natural strains that are  used for fermentation.  For instance, there’s these commercial   strains that sometimes  winemakers use for fermentation.  So those characteristics will influence  the characteristic of the wine.  And what winemakers try to do is  to really encapsulate  those unique traits into the bottle.  Will Mountford: Another important  part of the brewing process  is of course the yeast that is a  microbe of its own right,  and it’s one that we have tamed  and engineered and selected.  What makes a good yeast versus a bad   yeast versus an infectious yeast?

[13:47] Philippe Rolshausen: Well, there’s a  lot of debate about this.  I think there’s a different school  and different philosophies.  There is the commercial yeast  and there is the wild yeast.  So some growers or winemakers  like to use the natural yeast  that are occurring in the vineyard  or in the region and  use that for their fermentation  process because they  think it adds depth and  complexity to the wine.  Whereas when you use a commercial  yeast, it negates the effects  or the benefits of those natural strains.  So when you use a commercial strain  of Saccharomyces cerevisiae,  then you go away from the notion  of terroir in that sense  because you’re making some wine  that has characteristic  that your neighbor can make or  that someone in a different  wine region can make.  So in that regard, it’s going  against the notion of terroir.  It is challenging if you’re a wine  growers and you try to use  some of those wild strains because  you’re taking a big risk, right?

[14:50] Philippe Rolshausen: You can, first of all, face what they call fermentation stock  where the fermentation doesn’t take place.  The yeast takes the sugar that  the plant makes and  accumulates in the berries  and transform it into ethanol,  which is the alcohol part.  But if during the stock fermentation,  that process doesn’t take place,  the yeast is actually not able to take that   sugar and ferment it all the way.  So you basically take a huge  economic risk by doing that.  Whereas if you use a more commercial   strain, you know that you’re  taking less risk and you can complete  your fermentation all the way.  So those are the challenges  that one may face.  I mean, often it is a business decision, right?  And I think when you’re a small wine  grape grower, it’s more challenging  and more rewarding to actually  use the wild strain.  Whereas when you make large  scale production, you often  don’t want to take those risks  and you tend to go with  a more commercial strain.  And some, you know, are perfectly fine and do a great job.  I think it’s just a personal preference  from the winemaker standpoint.

[15:59] Will Mountford: I suppose another  factor of agricultural instability  is the risk of disease, is the risk  of some pathogen making it  to the crop and that contributing   to food instability in the future.  What kind of role does that play  either in vineyards specifically  or any kind of facet of your research  that’s looking to secure that  stability, security of the fruit, or  just preserving the taste of  something that is so volatile?

[16:22] Philippe Rolshausen: When you are a grape grower and a vineyard manager,  you want to farm your vineyard  for 25 years or more.  And some of those best wines  are made with older grapes.  So that’s something you try to achieve.  I mean, it is an economic decision,  it’s a business decision  at the beginning, how long are  you going to farm your plants?  So if you have a disease that  comes early on at the  establishment of the vineyard  and reduce the longevity  of your vineyard to, let’s say  10 or 15 years of production,  then you have a problem.  You have an economic problem  because you have to  pull your vineyard out to replant.  So those are not something  you want to do.  And also for the winemaker standpoint,  you don’t want to have   grapes that are rotten that go  into fermentation because  you can have off flavors in the wine later on.  So obviously that’s not something  you want to achieve.

[17:20] Philippe Rolshausen: So there is huge decisions that are on the shoulder of  the vineyard manager to make  sure that the grapes that’s  being produced is of high quality.  So management of diseases  are through either  conventional agrochemicals  or organic agrochemicals.  Conventional agrochemicals use   synthetically produced ingredients,  whereas organic agrochemicals  use natural sources.  So those include, for instance,  a substance derived  from plants, insects, microbes.  So you talk about, for instance, pheromones   from a microbe to disrupt the  mating of the pest, minerals such as copper   or sulfur or microorganisms.  Many organic pesticides or agrochemicals are less toxic to their  synthetic counterparts, but that  doesn’t mean that they are  safe to the environment or to humans.

[18:19] Philippe Rolshausen: So there’s often a misconception  about that organic pesticides  are safer than synthetic agrochemicals.  The efficacy of organic pesticides is commonly lower  than a synthetic pesticide.  And one must often spray organic   pesticides more frequently  to achieve similar disease control.  So in an environment that is  conducive to disease,  such as you can imagine  warm temperature or rain,  it can be very challenging for crop  to grow crops organically.  And you can be actually very  unfriendly to the environment  in that sense, because you have to,  there’s a lot of chemical input  in the environment to manage disease.  So, I’ll give you an example.  For instance, boulder mixture, which is a copper based chemical.  This is the first pesticide used  on grapes and probably  one of the first pesticide used  on any other crops.  It’s been used for 130 years now  and commonly used to  control fungal and bacterial diseases.

[19:25] Philippe Rolshausen: It’s been accumulating in soil of  the France and now all over  the world for decades now.  And we see signs of phytotoxicity, but there’s also copper resistance bacteria and fungi are developing.  It’s accumulating in soil and  it’s has a negative effect  on the microbial diversity,  but it also affecting  food quality parameters.  So for instance, it affects the  fermentation process.  It accumulates in the berries and  affect the fermentation process  and mediate oxidation reaction  that also decrease the  intensity of some of the wine aromas.  So to produce enough food  and to feed the  global population in an eco-friendly  manner, we need to adopt  integrated farming practices where pesticides, so both  organic and synthetic agrochemicals  are reduced and deployed  only when necessary.

[20:31] Philippe Rolshausen: Here I’m not preaching to  stop using synthetic agrochemical  just because I think it’s unrealistic  given the number of  invasive pest and disease outbreaks  linked to climate change.  So we do, growers do need those chemicals, but we do need  to reduce the amount that we are using.  And we need to foster sustainable  farming practices because  it is instrumental to our long-term success.  So what are sustainable farming  practices that relies on  ecosystem management using  practices that promote  and enhance the agro-system  health and maintain  and increase the long-term soil fertility.  Microbial activity correlates to  soil fertility,  so ensuring the  biodiversity of the soil and the  plant is key to success.  And so reducing chemical input  that limit microbial activity  is really here instrumental to our success.

[21:30] Philippe Rolshausen: So what growers can  do to limit organic and synthetic  agrochemical is to use a  biopesticide or bioinoculants.  And this is a way to really engage  with sustainable farming.  Introducing bio fertilizers to  promote nutrient acquisition  in place, instead of adding  nutrients in cell for instance.  So you will use a microbe that will  help the plant fix nitrogen  or solubilize phosphorus will  have better function than  really adding nitrogen or  phosphorus to your soil.  You can also introduce biological control  agent into a system to combat  a pest or a disease instead of using  synthetic or organic pesticides.

[22:29] Philippe Rolshausen: I think you need to look at disease as  disequilibrium with microbes and  when everything is in harmony,  you have what’s called homeostasis,  which is the microbes  and the hosts living in harmony together.  But when you have an imbalance  in that microbial equilibrium,  it’s called a dysbiosis, then it leads to a state of stress.  This is where you can have disease.  So I think a lot of people start  to understand that  the plant interaction with the  microbes or the  human interaction with the  microbe is very important.  And understanding that  interaction is key to  alleviate some of that stress and   manage some of those disease.  And that you don’t always have  to use synthetic chemicals  to kill a pathogen.  And perhaps you can remediate  the stress or disease  by making sure the microbes  are in equilibrium.  And so there’s a lot of the market  of pesticides for instance,  or bio products has exploded  in the past 10 years  because of those reasons.  Because of the science behind   the microbiome and how that translates into  economic opportunity  and market opportunities, the  development of technologies  that could be marketed and  commercialized to production.

[23:50] Will Mountford: There’s a concern  amongst some quarters  that it is not scalable to address  the size of food security  that is needed for the future or  sustainable in and of itself  that eventually there will be an  end to the natural resistances,  the natural immunities that some pathogens might bring about.  Any thoughts on where this could lead?

[24:10] Philippe Rolshausen: If you look at the compound annual growth rate  for agricultural biological products, it’s growing at a  faster pace than conventional chemicals.  So it is already happening, but   there will be some challenges  into developing more bio products  and putting those  bio products on the market because first of all,  you need to optimize the efficacy  of those products.  And we don’t always understand  how those biological works  and a lot of those bio products  that are available,  commercially available have  not been optimized  or have not been developed  for a specific crop.  And so until we understand how  those microbes function  and benefit the plant, then  we will not be able  to achieve higher yield and  better disease management.  One of the other issue is also our technicals, like storage, for instance, how do you store  those organisms  on shelves so they don’t die?  And also, I think a lot of it comes from the consumer standpoint  and changing consumer behavior  is going to be key.

[25:19] Philippe Rolshausen: We want to buy food  or food products that are of high quality.  We do not want to buy a grape  that has little rot stain  on it on the berry, or you  know we want to buy  the perfect product.  And so until we change that  behavior, this is  going to be really hard to achieve  by using bio products  only because unlike with conventional chemicals that sometimes  you could have 100% disease  control, you’re not  going to be able to achieve this.  And we’re going to have to  understand that maybe  the perfect product does  not always exist.  And we’re going to have to accept  eating products that  are not perfectly, cosmetically  perfect, but that are  as good quality as a product  that has used conventional  chemical or perhaps even better  because it doesn’t  have any residual chemistry  in the skin or in the flesh.

[26:16] Philippe Rolshausen: So I think a lot of it  comes from consumer education,  but I believe that consumers  start to understand that  and there’s been a strong change  in consumer behavior  towards more chemical free or  better quality products  for food and food products.  I think the idea of farming with no conventional chemical  is not sustainable because we do  need conventional chemicals  to control some of those diseases.  I think what has to change is the  philosophy of how  food is being produced and doing it  in a more sustainable way.  So using less of the conventional  chemicals that are being used  and more of the bio products will  definitely help in this regard.  We’ve made a lot of progress  formulating some of those  pesticides since the Green Revolution.  And so we’ve been wasting  less and less chemicals  by improving the formulation and   the delivery of chemicals.

[27:21] Philippe Rolshausen: But we’re not nearly   close to what we can do, and I think  the developing technology today, like  nanotechnologies, for instance.  Nanotechnology is the science  conducted at the nanoscale.  Scientists and engineers are finding  a wide variety of ways  to make materials at the nanoscale  and they take advantage  of their enhanced property.  So for instance, they have  higher chemical reactivity.  And so we can use those  properties in agriculture.  And so for instance, targeted  delivery of pesticides using  less active ingredients, which  improves the efficacy  and decreases the chemical   leaching in the environment.  This technology will help manage diseases  that I’m working on specifically,  the targeted diseases of the  vascular system of plants,  because it is difficult to deliver  active ingredient inside.

[28:30] Will Mountford: I suppose that’s  the almost returning  to nature style of doing organic  farming, but the  future approaches or any new technological approaches  thinking about, you know, omics,  insights and screening  and kind of bringing the very  cutting edge of biological  application to vineyards, is that  something that could  maybe be a different avenue to explore?

[28:49] Philippe Rolshausen: Yeah, so the omics  technology really helps identify  what product we should grow or what  microbes we should go after.  And this is some of what my research does.  It’s like we’re trying to identify  key microbes that are  beneficial to grapes or citrus and  by using omics technology.  So we talked about the microbiome  and how it’s helping  plants absorb nutrients and  cope with stress.  So my lab is using omics technology  to profile the microbes  associated with tree crops specifically.  Omics technology aims at the  collective characterization  and quantification of pools of biological molecules  that translate into the structure,  function and dynamics  of an organism or organisms.  So when I talk about pool  of biological molecules,  it can be genomes, RNA, proteins or metabolites.

[29:51] Philippe Rolshausen: I’m looking specifically  at the genetic materials of microbes  and that are recovered from different   environmental sample.  And I measure the community  composition and  diversity on the different conditions.  So what we are interested in  is the microbes that are  associated with roots because  we talk about the importance  of the roots with the nutrition  and the stress adaptation.  And also the microbes that are living inside the plant tissue or organs.  So plant sap, for instance,  stems, flower, fruit.  We want to know where those  organisms are coming from,  what are their role and how  can we utilize the  good microbes that are found  associated with the plant  and support plant health and productivity.

[30:41] Will Mountford: Are there any more  specifics you can tell us  about either the technology  or the delivery?

[30:47] Philippe Rolshausen: So I want to  give like two examples  about my research that kind  of encapsulate  what we’ve talked about today.  The first one is a disease of grapevines   called Pierce’s disease.  It’s a bacterial disease that affect  the vascular system  of the plant, the xylem specifically.  So the xylem is, you can look  at the xylem of plant,  which is the stem, as the freeway  that conducts water,  nutrients and signals across the plant.  And so when vines are affected  by this disease,  the signal is obstructed, the xylem is obstructed.  So there’s poor translocation  of water, poor translocation  of nutrients and signals across the plant.  And so the plant struggles, lose  vigor and eventually dies.  And so that disease is a  vector by an insect that  feeds on the plant and transmit  the disease and  the bacteria, the pathogens  multiplies and kills the plant.

[31:53] Philippe Rolshausen: There are no current  product that targets the pathogen itself.  The only way you can manage  the disease is by spraying,  is controlling the insect vectors.  So you have to use insecticides  to manage the disease.  So my research has focused  on try to target, to identify  biological control agents that  target the pathogen itself.  So what we’ve done using  Omics technology is look  at grapevines with a range of  disease symptoms  across California that express  Pierce’s disease.  And we collected tissue samples  from those grapevines  and look at microbial community  that resides inside  the vascular system of the plant.  And what we found was that  there were two bacteria  specifically that correlated negatively with the pathogen.  So the more abundant those bacteria were,   the less abundant was the pathogen.

[32:54] Philippe Rolshausen: And so we isolated   those two organisms of interest  and reintroduced them in a  system in a greenhouse.  And so when grapevine were  affected with the disease,  were inoculated with those  biological control agents.  They tend to do better and perform better.  We alleviated disease symptoms  and sometimes even cure  the plants from the disease.  And so now that we have our  proof of concept,  we are testing those strains  on their field trials  and we hope we can license those technology to companies  so they can be developed  into commercial product.  That’s the first example.  The second example that I want to talk about is on citrus,  on the disease called Citrus Huanglongbing,   it’s very different.

[33:52] Philippe Rolshausen: It’s, Citrus Huanglongbing  is very similar to Pierce’s disease  that we talked about earlier.  It is vector by an insect as well.  And the insect vector comes  and feed on the plant  and transmit a bacterium as well,  a pathogenic bacterium.  Here the bacteria feeds on the phloem.  So the pathogen is limited in a different   compartment of the plant.  It’s still the stem but the phloem.

[34:22] Will Mountford: In my head,  I’m picturing, you know,  GCSE biology diagram of xylem  going one way  and phloem going the other.  There’s a little bit of a memory in there somewhere.

[34:30] Philippe Rolshausen: That’s right.  So I’m trying to for people to understand.  I don’t know if I need to go  into that much details.  So the bacteria resides in  the phloem of the plant.  And very much like Pierce’s Disease,  the plant chokes  because it cannot translocate  sugar from the leaves  into the root system and  into the fruits.  You can really make the analogy between that disease  Huanglongbing and actually AIDS  to humans because  basically the plants become weaker and weaker and then  there are other pathogens that  comes in and kill the plant.  So we did the same thing as we  did with Pierce’s Disease.  We collected root samples  across orchards that  express different range  of symptoms on  citrus Huanglongbing and  try to look at the  microbial communities that were   associated with those roots.  And what we found is that  healthy plants, we found  stronger association between  healthy plants and fungus  that’s called the mycorrhizae.

[35:30] Philippe Rolshausen: And what mycorrhizae do  is actually helps plants absorb nutrients,  phosphorus especially nitrogen  and also water and  help the plant cope with stress  as we discussed before.  So what we’re trying to do here  is develop practices that really  foster that symbiosis between the citrus and the mycorrhizae,  because if we are able to  do that, then we are  more likely to extend the  longevity of the orchard  or the citrus trees by creating   the association between  the mycorrhizae and the citrus tree.  We extend the lifespan of a tree, and for a grower,  it means more profit and more income.  So if we can understand how  plants interact with microbes  or how humans interact with microbes, then that will  definitely help us cope with  those stress and help us  achieve higher food production  and crop production, crop quality.  I think that’s my take home message.  So if you can eat sustainably,  eat local and eat healthy.

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