Microbial hydrogen cycling in agricultural systems – plant beneficial or detrimental?

30 June 2023 by smartfertiliser-hub

Zahra Islam, Chris Greening, Hang-Wei Hu. 2023. “Microbial hydrogen cycling in agricultural systems – plant beneficial or detrimental?” Microbial Biotechnology, 16(8), 1623–1628. DOI: 10.1111/1751-7915.14300

Hydrogen‐oxidising bacteria play a key role in maintaining the composition of gases within the atmosphere and are ubiquitous in agricultural soils. While studies have shown that hydrogen accumulates in soil surrounding legume nodules and the soil surface, soils as a whole act as a net sink for hydrogen, raising questions about how hydrogen is internally recycled by soils. Can the energy derived from hydrogen oxidation be directly funnelled into plants to promote their growth or does it only act as a booster for other plant‐growth promoting bacteria? Moreover, while the fertilisation effect of hydrogen on plants has previously been shown to be beneficial, questions remain about the upper limit of hydrogen uptake by plants before it becomes detrimental. Agricultural practices such as fertilisation may impact the balance of hydrogen‐oxidisers and hydrogen‐producers in these ecosystems, potentially having detrimental effects on not only agricultural land but also global biogeochemical cycles. In this perspectives piece, we highlight the importance of understanding the contribution of hydrogen to agricultural soils and the effects of agricultural practices on the ability for bacteria to cycle hydrogen in agricultural soils. We propose a framework to gain better insights into microbial hydrogen cycling within agroecosystems, which could contribute to the development of new agricultural biotechnologies.

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