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Plant Microbiota Beyond Farming Practices: A Review

Mathieu Delitte, Simon Caulier, Claude Bragard, Nicolas Desoignies

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Plants have always grown and evolved surrounded by numerous microorganisms that inhabit their environment, later termed microbiota. To enhance food production, humankind has relied on various farming practices such as irrigation, tilling, fertilization, and pest and disease management. Over the past few years, studies have highlighted the impacts of such practices, not only in terms of plant health or yields but also on the microbial communities associated with plants, which have been investigated through microbiome studies. Because some microorganisms exert beneficial traits that improve plant growth and health, understanding how to modulate microbial communities will help in developing smart farming and favor plant growth-promoting (PGP) microorganisms. With tremendous cost cuts in NGS technologies, metagenomic approaches are now affordable and have been widely used to investigate crop-associated microbiomes. Being able to engineer microbial communities in ways that benefit crop health and growth will help decrease the number of chemical inputs required. Against this background, this review explores the impacts of agricultural practices on soil- and plant-associated microbiomes, focusing on plant growth-promoting microorganisms from a metagenomic perspective.