Understanding Plant Social Networking System: Avoiding Deleterious Microbiota but Calling Beneficials

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 24;22(7):3319. doi: 10.3390/ijms22073319.


Plant association with microorganisms elicits dramatic effects on the local phytobiome and often causes systemic and transgenerational modulation on plant immunity against insect pests and microbial pathogens. Previously, we introduced the concept of the plant social networking system (pSNS) to highlight the active involvement of plants in the recruitment of potentially beneficial microbiota upon exposure to insects and pathogens. Microbial association stimulates the physiological responses of plants and induces the development of their immune mechanisms while interacting with multiple enemies. Thus, beneficial microbes serve as important mediators of interactions among multiple members of the multitrophic, microscopic and macroscopic communities. In this review, we classify the steps of pSNS such as elicitation, signaling, secreting root exudates, and plant protection; summarize, with evidence, how plants and beneficial microbes communicate with each other; and also discuss how the molecular mechanisms underlying this communication are induced in plants exposed to natural enemies. Collectively, the pSNS modulates robustness of plant physiology and immunity and promotes survival potential by helping plants to overcome the environmental and biological challenges.

Keywords: beneficial microbiota; communication; multitrophic interaction; plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria; plant social networking system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Insecta
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Microbiota
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Immunity*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Roots
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Lipids