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Did You Know Microbial Communities Make Plants Stronger?

Close up of roots of a plant

Plant species have their own distinctive microbiome, the microbial communities of bacteria and fungi that live in symbiosis with growing plants. Microbiomes are studied and known to make plants ‘fitter’ by encouraging growth, nutrient uptake, stress tolerance and even resistance to pathogens [1]. ​

Natural plant protection is important and helps to build sustainability in food systems. Scientists at the University of Wageningen are studying whether applying microbial inoculants to plants can result in changes to natural microbiomes which could help improve resistance to pests and diseases [2]. ​

Plants control what bacteria live in their leaves to stay healthy.

If plants don't control the bacteria, they get damaged. Recent studies suggest that organisms, from plants to animals, may share a similar strategy to control their microbiomes. It could be a fundamental process in life. 

[1] Plant–microbiome interactions: from community assembly to plant health | Nature Reviews Microbiology
[2] Modifying the plant microbiome to make plants more resistant to pests and diseases - WUR