From seed to seed: the role of microbial inheritance in the assembly of the plant microbiome

Ahmed Abdelfattah*, Ayco J.M. Tack, Carolina Lobato, Birgit Wassermann, Gabriele Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite evidence that the microbiome extends host genetic and phenotypic traits, information on how the microbiome is transmitted and maintained across generations remains fragmented. For seed-bearing plants, seeds harbor a distinct microbiome and play a unique role by linking one generation to the next. Studies on microbial inheritance, a process we suggest including both vertical transmission and the subsequent migration of seed microorganisms to the new plant, thus become essential for our understanding of host evolutionary potential and host–microbiome coevolution. We propose dividing the inheritance process into three stages: (i) plant to seed, (ii) seed dormancy, and (iii) seed to seedling. We discuss the factors affecting the assembly of the microbiome during the three stages, highlight future research directions, and emphasize the implications of microbial inheritance for fundamental science and society
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 2022


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