Perspective: Research priorities for harnessing plant microbiomes in sustainable agriculture

Beneficial microbes help plants take up nutrients, confer protection against pathogens, and can even affect flowering time. Busby et al. argue for a coordinated effort between researchers and farmers to study plant microbiomes with the goal of using them to enhance productivity. The authors define and describe five research priorities:  1. Develop model host–microbiome systems for crop plants and non-crop plants with associated microbial culture collections and reference genomes, 2. Define core microbiomes and metagenomes in model host–microbiome systems, 3. Elucidate the rules of synthetic, functionally programmable microbiome assembly, 4. Determine functional mechanisms of plant–microbiome interactions, 5. Characterize and refine plant genotype-by-environment-by-microbiome-by-management interactions. Each of these priorities is described further in the article. PLOS Biol. 10.1371/journal.pbio.2001793

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