Missing symbionts–emerging pathogens? Microbiome management for sustainable agriculture

Gabriele Berg, Matthias Schweitzer, Ahmed Abdelfattah, Tomislav Cernava*, Birgit Wassermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plant diversification and co-evolution shaped the plant microbiome and vice versa. This resulted in a specific composition of the plant microbiome and a strong connection with the host in terms of functional interplay. Symbionts are part of the microbiota, and important for the plant’s germination and growth, nutrition, as well as stress protection. However, human activities in the Anthropocene are linked to a significant shift of diversity, evenness and specificity of the plant microbiota. In addition, and very importantly, many plant symbionts are missing or no longer functional. It will require targeted microbiome management to support and reintroduce them. In future agriculture, we should aim at replacing harmful chemicals in the field, as well as post-harvest, by using precision microbiome engineering. This is because the plant microbiome is connected across systems and crucial for human and planetary health. This commentary aims to inspire holistic studies for the development of solutions for sustainable agriculture in framework of the One Health and the Planetary Health concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Early online date1 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Anthropocene
  • One health
  • Planetary health
  • Plant health
  • Plant holobiont
  • Plant-beneficial microorganisms
  • Symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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