Plant and Soil

, Volume 360, Issue 1–2, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Harnessing the rhizosphere microbiome through plant breeding and agricultural management

  • Matthew G. BakkerEmail author
  • Daniel K. Manter
  • Amy M. Sheflin
  • Tiffany L. Weir
  • Jorge M. VivancoEmail author
Marschner Review



The need to enhance the sustainability of intensive agricultural systems is widely recognized One promising approach is to encourage beneficial services provided by soil microorganisms to decrease the inputs of fertilizers and pesticides. However, limited success of this approach in field applications raises questions as to how this might be best accomplished.


We highlight connections between root exudates and the rhizosphere microbiome, and discuss the possibility of using plant exudation characteristics to selectively enhance beneficial microbial activities and microbiome characteristics. Gaps in our understanding and areas of research that are vital to our ability to more fully exploit the soil microbiome for agroecosystem productivity and sustainability are also discussed.


This article outlines strategies for more effectively exploiting beneficial microbial services on agricultural systems, and cals attention to topics that require additional research.


Rhizosphere Exudates Plant-driven selection Beneficial microbes Plant breeding 



M. Bakker is supported by a USDA NIFA AFRI Postdoctoral Fellowship grant (2011-67012-30938). Work in the J. Vivanco lab is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (MCB-0950857).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Rhizosphere BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Soil-Plant-Nutrient Research, USDA-ARSFort CollinsUSA

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