Harnessing rhizosphere microbiomes for drought-resilient crop production

Science. 2020 Apr 17;368(6488):270-274. doi: 10.1126/science.aaz5192.


Root-associated microbes can improve plant growth, and they offer the potential to increase crop resilience to future drought. Although our understanding of the complex feedbacks between plant and microbial responses to drought is advancing, most of our knowledge comes from non-crop plants in controlled experiments. We propose that future research efforts should attempt to quantify relationships between plant and microbial traits, explicitly focus on food crops, and include longer-term experiments under field conditions. Overall, we highlight the need for improved mechanistic understanding of the complex feedbacks between plants and microbes during, and particularly after, drought. This requires integrating ecology with plant, microbiome, and molecular approaches and is central to making crop production more resilient to our future climate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crop Production / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism
  • Crops, Agricultural / microbiology*
  • Droughts*
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Rhizosphere*
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology