Connecting phytobiomes with soil and plant health symposium planned

Farm Forum

Most of us know that our guts need beneficial bacteria (think about a certain yogurt commercial). But did you know they also live in guts of animals, insects – and even the soil and plants?

“Microbes can live in any of these ‘systems’,” says Ron Turco, a soil microbiologist and professor at Purdue University. “They do respond differently to their environment, however.”

“The ‘phytobiome’ includes the environment (e.g., soil) and all of the living organisms in, on and around plants,” according to Jan Leach, a professor at Colorado State University. “This entire system influences plant and soil health.”

The “Connecting Phytobiomes with Soil and Plant Health” symposium planned at the Synergy in Science ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN, will address this important topic. The symposium will be held November 16, 2015. The meeting is sponsored by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America.

“The White House Office of Science and Technology has made it clear that research in the microbiome is critical,” says Turco. “Our symposium will focus on the importance of the microbiome in the interactions between plants and soils as they relates to crops, agronomy, and entomology.”

Jennifer Moore-Kucera will “provide examples of the sensitivity of these biological properties in response to alternative agronomic practices. The system can enhance soil and water sustainability as well as respond to extreme drought and high temperatures. Soil biological are early ‘ecosensors’ and can provide valuable information to scientists. Moore-Kucera is a professor at Texas Tech University. Veronica Acosta-Martinez, USDA, will be co-presenting.

“Understanding how the phytobiomefunctions as a system will contribute to the sustained health and productivity of plants, plant ecosystems, and consumers of plants and plant products,” says Leach.

For more information about the Synergy in Science 2015 meeting, visit For information about the “Connecting Phytobiomes with Soil and Plant Health” symposium, visit