Growth patterns of individual plants and evolutionary trajectories of plant communities are intimately linked with and are critically affected by host-associated microbiomes. Research across systems has begun to shed light on how these phytobiomes are established under laboratory and natural conditions, and have cultivated hope that a better understanding of the governing principles for host–microbe interactions can guide attempts to engineer microbiomes to boost agricultural yields. One important, yet relatively understudied, parameter in regards to phytobiome membership is the degree to which specialization and coevolution between plant species and microbes provides structure to these communities. In this article, I provide an overview of mechanisms enabling adaptation and specialization of phytobiome communities to host plants as well as the potential for plants themselves to recruit and cultivate beneficial interactions. I further explore the possibility of host-beneficial microbe coevolution and suggest particular situations that could promote the evolution of such close-knit partnerships. It is my hope that this overview will encourage future experiments that can begin to fill in this black box of ecological and evolutionary interactions across phytobiomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science