How can we maximize the efficiency of plant-microbe symbiosis?
We believe harnessing beneficial microbiome for agriculture relies on a mechanistic understanding of how plants select their microbiota. Beneficial microbes must not only be able to promote plant growth, but also thrive in the microbiome of the plant, where they must compete with well-adapted natural microbiota for colonization of this niche.
Because of their intimate relationship with the plant, rhizobia that are applied as inoculants in agriculture must also compete for occupation of root nodules against natural rhizobia that may be inferior partners for the plant. To make an efficient symbiont, rhizobia must not only be competitive, but also a compatible partner for the legume, and effective at fixing nitrogen and providing it to its host.