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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 4376240, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/4376240
Review Article

Upscaling Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis and Related Agroecosystems Services in Smallholder Farming Systems

Department of Microbiology, Kenyatta University, P.O. Box 43844-00100, Nairobi 00100, Kenya

Received 23 October 2015; Revised 29 December 2015; Accepted 5 January 2016

Academic Editor: Denise Freire

Copyright © 2016 Marjorie Bonareri Oruru and Ezekiel Mugendi Njeru. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Smallholder farming systems form unique ecosystems that can protect beneficial soil biota and form an important source of useful genetic resources. They are characterized by high level of agricultural diversity mainly focused on meeting farmers’ needs. Unfortunately, these systems often experience poor crop production mainly associated with poor planning and resource scarcity. Soil fertility is among the primary challenges faced by smallholder farmers, which necessitate the need to come up with affordable and innovative ways of replenishing soils. One such way is the use of microbial symbionts such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), a beneficial group of soil microbiota that form symbiotic associations with majority of cultivated crops and play a vital role in biological soil fertility, plant nutrition, and protection. AMF can be incorporated in smallholder farming systems to help better exploit chemical fertilizers inputs which are often unaffordable to many smallholder farmers. The present review highlights smallholder farming practices that could be innovatively redesigned to increase AMF symbiosis and related agroecosystem services. Indeed, the future of global food security depends on the success of smallholder farming systems, whose crop productivity depends on the services provided by well-functioning ecosystems, including soil fertility.