The Phytobiome Concept

Plants grow in association and interaction with complex communities of organisms, environmental conditions, and management practices. The term “Phytobiomes” encompasses all of this complexity.

A phytobiome is a plant (“phyto”) in a distinct geographical unit (“biome”) – a field, grassland, greenhouse, garden, or forest. A phytobiome includes the plant itself, all micro- and macro-organisms living in, on, or around the plant – such as microbes, animals, insects and other plants – and the environment, including soil, air, water, weather, and climate.

Phytobiomes have an important role in the sustained health and productivity of plants and plant ecosystems.

Because interactions within phytobiomes are dynamic and complex, there is a need to build a foundation of systems-level knowledge of various phytobiomes. This includes an understanding of how the different components interact and influence each other to empower the development of predictive and prescriptive analytics for use in next generation precision agricultural systems.

Establishing a foundation of knowledge on how phytobiome components interact and affect each other will be critical to ensuring sustainable global food security in the next decades in the context of population growth, climate change and necessity to preserve biodiversity and natural resources.