A review on the plant microbiome: Ecology, functions, and emerging trends in microbial application

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A review on the plant microbiome: Ecology, functions, and emerging trends in microbial application. Plants have evolved with a plethora of microorganisms having important roles for plant growth and health. A considerable amount of information is now available on the structure and dynamics of plant microbiota as well as on the functional capacities of isolated community members. Due to the interesting functional potential of plant microbiota as well as due to current challenges in crop production there is an urgent need to bring microbial innovations into practice. Different approaches for microbiome improvement exist. On the one hand microbial strains or strain combinations can be applied, however, field success is often variable and improvement is urgently required. Smart, knowledge-driven selection of microorganisms is needed as well as the use of suitable delivery approaches and formulations. On the other hand, farming practices or the plant genotype can influence plant microbiota and thus functioning. Therefore, selection of appropriate farming practices and plant breeding leading to improved plantmicrobiome interactions are avenues to increase the benefit of plant microbiota. In conclusion, different avenues making use of a new generation of inoculants as well as the application of microbiome-based agro-management practices and improved plant lines could lead to a better use of the plant microbiome. This paper reviews the importance and functionalities of the bacterial plant microbiome and discusses challenges and concepts in regard to the application of plant-associated bacteria.