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Environmental Research
Volume 222, 2023, 115298

Microbial coexistence in the rhizosphere and the promotion of plant stress resistance: A review

Jiaqi Gea,b, Dong Lib, Jixian Dingb

School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Changzhou University, Changzhou, 213164, China.


Plants can recruit soil microorganisms into the rhizosphere when experiencing various environmental stresses, including biotic (e.g., insect pests) and abiotic (e.g., heavy metal pollution, droughts, floods, and salinity) stresses. However, species coexistence in plant resistance has not received sufficient attention. Current research on microbial coexistence is only at the community scale, and there is a limited understanding of the interaction patterns between species, especially microbe‒microbe interactions. The relevant interaction patterns are limited to a few model strains. The coexisting microbial communities form a stable system involving complex nutritional competition, metabolic exchange, and even interdependent interactions. This pattern of coexistence can ultimately enhance plant stress tolerance. Hence, a systematic understanding of the coexistence pattern of rhizosphere microorganisms under stress is essential for the precise development and utilization of synthetic microbial communities and the achievement of efficient ecological control. Here, we integrated current analytical methods and introduced several new experimental methods to elucidate rhizosphere microbial coexistence patterns. Some advancements (e.g., network analysis, coculture experiments, and synthetic communities) that can be applied to plant stress resistance are also updated. This review aims to summarize the key role and potential application prospects of microbial coexistence in the resistance of plants to environmental stresses. Our suggestions, enhancing plant resistance with coexisting microbes, would allow us to gain further knowledge on plant–microbial and microbial-microbial functions, and facilitate translation to more effective measures.

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