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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Protists: Puppet Masters of the Rhizosphere Microbiome

Gao, Zhilei; Karlsson, Ida; Geisen, Stefan; Kowalchuk, George; Jousset, Alexandre


The rhizosphere microbiome is a central determinant of plant performance. Microbiome assembly has traditionally been investigated from a bottom-up perspective, assessing how resources such as root exudates drive microbiome assembly. However, the importance of predation as a driver of microbiome structure has to date largely remained overlooked. Here we review the importance of protists, a paraphyletic group of unicellular eukaryotes, as a key regulator of microbiome assembly. Protists can promote plant-beneficial functions within the microbiome, accelerate nutrient cycling, and remove pathogens. We conclude that protists form an essential component of the rhizosphere microbiome and that accounting for predator-prey interactions would greatly improve our ability to predict and manage microbiome function at the service of plant growth and health.

Published in

Trends in Plant Science
2019, volume: 24, number: 2, pages: 165-176

Authors' information

Gao, Zhilei
Utrecht University
Karlsson, Ida
Utrecht University
Karlsson, Ida
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology
Geisen, Stefan
Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
Kowalchuk, George
Utrecht University
Jousset, Alexandre
Utrecht University

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

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