The idea that the microbes on and within an organism (the microbiota) influence an organism in positive, neutral and negative ways has been a hot topic in popular science, especially the role of the gut microbiota in human health and nutrition. Plants are similarly influenced by their microbiota, as reviewed by Kroll et al. Although there is a lot of potential for crop improvement by optimizing beneficial host-microbiota interactions, many uncertainties must be resolved before this becomes a reliable practice, largely because these interactions are so diverse and often unstable and short-lived. The authors identify four key themes for further study: environmental biology, ecology, host biology, and interorganismic interactions. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 10.1016/j.pbi.2017.01.004
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