Harnessing the microbiome to prevent global biodiversity loss

by Raquel Peixoto, Christian Voolstra, Michael Sweet, Carlos M Duarte, Susana Carvalho, Helena Villela, Jeantine E. Lunshof, Lone Gram, Douglas C. Woodhams, Jens Walter, Anna Roik, Ute Hentschel, Rebecca Vega Thurber, Brendan Daisley, Blake Ushijima, Daniele Daffonchio, Rodrigo Costa, Tina Keller-Costa, Jeff S. Bowman, Alexandre S. Rosado, Gregor Reid, Christopher E. Mason, Jenifer B. Walke, Torsten Thomas, Gabriele Berg
Scientific paper Year: 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41564-022-01173-1

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Nature Microbiology


Global biodiversity loss and mass extinction of species are two of the most critical environmental issues the world is currently facing, resulting in the disruption of various ecosystems central to environmental functions and human health. Microbiome-targeted interventions, such as probiotics and microbiome transplants, are emerging as potential options to reverse deterioration of biodiversity and increase the resilience of wildlife and ecosystems. However, the implementation of these interventions is urgently needed. We summarize the current concepts, bottlenecks and ethical aspects encompassing the careful and responsible management of ecosystem resources using the microbiome (termed microbiome stewardship) to rehabilitate organisms and ecosystem functions. We propose a real-world application framework to guide environmental and wildlife probiotic applications. This framework details steps that must be taken in the upscaling process while weighing risks against the high toll of inaction. In doing so, we draw parallels with other aspects of contemporary science moving swiftly in the face of urgent global challenges.