By Leonardo Gottems, Reporter for AgroPages
Félix Gonçalves Siqueira
Projects Coordinator of Embrapa
AgroPages talked exclusively with Félix Gonçalves Siqueira, Projects Coordinator of Embrapa, during the 5th International Conference Santa Clara Agrociência. In the interview, he talked about the future of plant defense, the use of new technologies, and latest experts and professionals working in agribusiness.
Why do you say that the future of agriculture requires an understanding of microbial interactions?
We need to understand that the soil is alive. This is the first thing we need to understand, as well as what benefits will microbioma bring to the soil and the microorganisms of that biome living next to plants. The future, which we do not even call the future, is already the present, as we know the agricultural techniques that favor certain groups of microorganisms that have a symbiotic relationship to a certain culture, or with that rotation of the culture.
Crop rotation that already occurs is just that, when you put a group of intercalated plants, you favor certain groups of different microorganisms, so the biological processes will become more and more intensive.
Will agrochemicals exist in the future?
Of course! Our relationship to microorganisms, and between human beings and plants, is about the relationship of chemists. They are the ones who nourish us, they are ones that protect us. Now the microbial world is being discovered through the many processes already in progress, and will progress much more.
I believe that in the next 10, 20 or 30 years, we will be talking much more about what kinds of materials and raw materials will be added to the soil, to favor certain groups of microorganisms.
Major companies, such as Santa Clara and others, will ask, “Do I need to nourish the microorganisms that live in the soil, which is where I am going to plant the crop?” Through the omic technique, which is a type of genomics, you can learn about the groups and families of bacteria and fungi that exist, and you can start to compare them. Big data, the amount of data generated on the interactions between microorganisms and plants, will be increasingly used.
Will this lead to people and technologies from other sectors to enter the agribusiness sector?
This is a very interesting question, because many disciplines and areas of knowledge are literally merging. People working with programs and software who have never seen soil or plants are needed today to analyze data, and to determine which microorganisms favor the soil where soybean, cotton and corn are planted. Through that interaction, microorganisms responds to immune systems, needing less chemical defenses, this is the logic of the interaction.
So regarding the question about the interaction between plants and microorganisms, the more we know about this universe, which really is a universe, a galaxy that communicates with itself, the more we are allied with ourselves. So deciphering these chemical communication codes among microorganisms in the rhizosphere of plants is a considerable challenge, be it here, China or the United States, because the when the plant and microorganisms are one, the one is alive.
We need to understand this dynamic more. The tools available are good and are getting better and better, such as bioinformatics, which is extracting DNA, RNA and proteins. How can we utilise this and at what moment?
Big data, computers and software systems, they are going to get more and more sophisticated, so we can create algorithms. Look, if I use certain carbohydrates, proteins or minerals, I favor certain groups of microorganisms and, automatically, I favor the production of new chemical compounds and the response of certain plants to this. If I have the favor a certain group of microorganisms and certain group of chemical compounds, I disadvantage the plant. This will be the dynamics of the understanding of the population spheres of the rhizosphere of plants.