In the recent years, the looming food scarcity problem has transformed agricultural sciences as an emerging discipline committed to devise new strategies for enhancing crop productivity to feed approximately 10 billion world’s populations by the year 2050. The major factors causing food scarcity are biotic and abiotic stresses which substantially limit productivity and nutritional quality of crops world-wide. Changing climate further aggravates adverse effects of combined stresses and increase the losses. A global survey on the major food crops indicated that pathogens, insect pests and weeds cause average yield losses ranging from 17 – 30% in crops.
Likewise, the major abiotic stresses such as temperature extremes, salinity, drought, as well as the deficiency and toxicity of plant nutrients cause up to 51 – 82% annual loss of crop yield in the world. Often, the exposure of plants to pests or pathogens increase the effects of an abiotic stress(es) such as water deficit and higher temperature, whereas long-term abiotic stress can weaken plant defense and cause enhanced pathogen susceptibility.
Despite this, only few reports in the literature have focused on understanding the interactive effects of biotic and abiotic stresses both in laboratory as well as under field conditions. In this scenario, novel strategies need to be adopted to achieve maximum productivity and economic crop returns under such adversaries. Some of the major strategies include pathogen/pest management practices, novel gene discovery, breeding of new crop varieties, high-throughput phenotyping, rapid diagnosis, screening and selection of crop gene pools, genetically modified (GM) crops, exogenous use of osmoprotectants and plant hormones, application of microbiome-based consortium (SynCom) on crops, identification of stresses through remote sensing and spectral signatures, agronomic and soil reclamation practices, sustainable use of available water supplies, use of artificial intelligence (AI) encompassing bioacoustics with machine learning in agriculture, etc. The above facts call for the discovery, development and implementation of novel strategies involving all knowledge-linked climate smart tools to combat emerging challenges of biotic and abiotic stresses independently as well as together. Hence, the conference on “Novel Strategies for Mitigating Biotic and Abiotic Stresses for Agricultural and Environmental Sustainability” is proposed to identify major challenges of biotic and abiotic stresses, climate resilience challenges, developing diagnostics including use of artificial intelligence (AI), formulating strategies to address these issues to sustain future agriculture while ensuring nutritional security.