To Discover Africa’s Biodiversity, Look to the Soil

South Africa is finally embarking on a long-overdue initiative: mapping the incredible biodiversity in Africa’s soils. It will document the microbial life hidden in the ground in sub-Saharan Africa, and the data it derives could help solve the continent’s crisis of hunger and food insecurity, and give birth to a new industry.

In agriculture, soil microbes interact with plants to help crops fight off pests and disease, and to adapt to climate stressors such as extreme heat and water scarcity. Already, in developed countries, microbial-based products for agriculture are a $2.3 billion market and growing.

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