Indexed on: 28 Jul '18Published on: 28 Jul '18Published in: Frontiers in microbiology
Plant rhizospheres encompass a dynamic zone of interactions between microorganisms and their respective plant hosts. For decades, researchers have worked to understand how these complex interactions influence different aspects of plant growth, development, and evolution. Studies of plant-microbial interactions in the root zone have typically focused on the effect of single microbial species or strains on a plant host. These studies, however, provide only a snapshot of the complex interactions that occur in the rhizosphere, leaving researchers with a limited understanding of how the complex microbiome influences the biology of the plant host. To better understand how rhizosphere interactions influence plant growth and development, novel frameworks and research methodologies could be implemented. In this perspective, we propose applying concepts in evolutionary biology to microbiome experiments for improved understanding of group-to-group and community-level microbial interactions influencing soil nutrient cycling. We also put forth simple experimental designs utilizing -omics techniques that can reveal important changes in the rhizosphere impacting the plant host. A greater focus on the components of complexity of the microbiome and how these impact plant host biology could yield more insight into previously unexplored aspects of host-microbe biology relevant to crop production and protection.