The Plant Microbiome At Work
Plants host distinct microbial communities on and inside their tissues designated the plant microbiota. Microbial community profiling enabled the description of the phylogenetic structure of the plant microbiota to an unprecedented depth, whereas functional insights are largely derived from experiments using individual microorganisms. The binary interplay between isolated members of the plant microbiota and host plants ranges from mutualistic to commensalistic and pathogenic relationships. However, how entire microbial communities capable of executing both growth-promoting and growth-compromising activities interfere with plant fitness remains largely unknown. Ultimately, unravelling the net result of microbial activities encoded in the extended plant genome—the plant microbiome—will be key to understanding and exploiting the full yield potential of a crop plant. In this perspective, we summarize first achievements of plant-microbiome research, we discuss future research directions, and we provide ideas for the translation of basic science to application to capitalize on the plant microbiome at work.