Controlling crop diseases will help feed the world, Zewei Song says, and his study of the ecology and evolution of soil microbes will help explain their role in disease control.
“It has been found around the world that certain types of soils are better in preventing crop disease than others. I’m interested in finding the mechanisms that lead to the formation of this disease-suppressive soil from the aspect of microbial interaction and co-evolution,” he says.
Control of crop diseases is one of the critical needs for the future of humans and the Earth. Each year, between 10 percent and 30 percent of crop yields are lost to diseases before they can be harvested.
“If we can control the disease, we can feed more people in the future,” he says. “Scientists have put great effort into improving crop plants in the past decades, and now we are aiming to improve the soil. This is a transition from the previous ‘green revolution’ to a new ‘brown evolution.’”