Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Through active associations with a diverse community of largely non-pathogenic microbes, a plant may be thought of as possessing an “extended genotype,” an interactive cross-organismal genome with potential, exploitable implications for plant immunity. The successful enrichment of plant microbiomes with beneficial species has led to numerous commercial applications, and the hunt for new biocontrol organisms continues. Increasingly flexible and affordable sequencing technologies, supported by increasingly comprehensive taxonomic databases, make the characterization of non-model crop-associated microbiomes a widely accessible research method toward this end; and such studies are becoming more frequent. A summary of this emerging literature reveals, however, the need for a more systematic research lens in the face of what is already a metagenomics data deluge. Considering the processes and consequences of crop evolution and domestication, we assert that the judicious integration of in situ crop wild relatives into phytobiome research efforts presents a singularly powerful tool for separating signal from noise, thereby facilitating a more efficient means of identifying candidate plant-associated microbes with the potential for enhancing the immunity and fitness of crop species.

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Frontiers in Plant Science



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Copyright © 2014 Hale, Broders and Iriarte.


This is an article published by Frontiers in Frontiers in Plant Science in 2014, available online: