Review. Protists: Puppetmasters of the rhizosphere microbiome ($) TIPS

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Gao et al. argue that we should be more aware of the beneficial impacts of friendly protists that eat potentially harmful microbes in the rhizosphere (they deliberately exclude plant pathogenic protists in their discussion). Protists are a diverse paraphyletic group of mostly single-celled eukaryotes. Bacterivorous protists contribute to nutrient cycling in the soil. They can also reduce the abundance of pathogenic microbes. Further research into the roles of diverse protists might enable them to be used as biostimulants to support plant growth. The authors conclude, “The time has come for protists to get out of their scientific niche and become the next biotechnological tool to engineer microbiomes to promote the functions that are needed to guarantee sustainable and resilient food production.” (Summary by Mary Williams) Trends Plant Sci. 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.10.011