Harnessing plant microbiome for mitigating arsenic toxicity in sustainable agriculture
Heavy metal toxicity has become an impediment to agricultural productivity, which presents major human health concerns in terms of food safety. Among them, arsenic (As) a non-essential heavy metal has gained worldwide attention because of its noxious effects on agriculture and public health. The increasing rate of global warming and anthropogenic activities have promptly exacerbated As levels in the agricultural soil, thereby causing adverse effects to crop genetic and phenotypic traits and rendering them vulnerable to other stresses. Conventional breeding and transgenic approaches have been widely adapted for producing heavy metal resilient crops; however, they are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Hence, finding new mitigation strategies for As toxicity would be a game-changer for sustainable agriculture. One such promising approach is harnessing plant microbiome in the era of ‘omics’ which is gaining prominence in recent years. The use of plant microbiome and their cocktails to combat As metal toxicity has gained widespread attention, because of their ability to metabolize toxic elements and offer an array of perquisites to host plants such as increased nutrient availability, stress resilience, soil fertility, and yield. A comprehensive understanding of below-ground plant-microbiome interactions and their underlying molecular mechanisms in exhibiting resilience towards As toxicity will help in identifying elite microbial communities for As mitigation. In this review, we have discussed the effect of As, their accumulation, transportation, signaling, and detoxification in plants. We have also discussed the role of the plant microbiome in mitigating As toxicity which has become an intriguing research frontier in phytoremediation. This review also provides insights on the advancements in constructing the beneficial synthetic microbial communities (SynComs) using microbiome engineering that will facilitate the development of the most advanced As remedial tool kit in sustainable agriculture.