The Role of Soil Microorganisms in Plant Mineral Nutrition-Current Knowledge and Future Directions

Front Plant Sci. 2017 Sep 19;8:1617. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01617. eCollection 2017.


In their natural environment, plants are part of a rich ecosystem including numerous and diverse microorganisms in the soil. It has been long recognized that some of these microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi or nitrogen fixing symbiotic bacteria, play important roles in plant performance by improving mineral nutrition. However, the full range of microbes associated with plants and their potential to replace synthetic agricultural inputs has only recently started to be uncovered. In the last few years, a great progress has been made in the knowledge on composition of rhizospheric microbiomes and their dynamics. There is clear evidence that plants shape microbiome structures, most probably by root exudates, and also that bacteria have developed various adaptations to thrive in the rhizospheric niche. The mechanisms of these interactions and the processes driving the alterations in microbiomes are, however, largely unknown. In this review, we focus on the interaction of plants and root associated bacteria enhancing plant mineral nutrition, summarizing the current knowledge in several research fields that can converge to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning this phenomenon.

Keywords: mathematical modeling; microbiome; natural variation; plant nutrition; plant–microbe interactions; root exudates.

Publication types

  • Review