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Agriculture and the Disruption of Plant–Microbial Symbiosis


Domestication has transformed hundreds of wild plant species into productive cultivars for human utility. However, cultivation practices and intense artificial selection for yield may entail a hidden cost: the disruption of interactions between plants and beneficial microbiota. Here, we synthesize theory predicting that evolutionary trade-offs, genetic costs, and relaxed selection disrupt plant-microbial symbiosis under domestication, and review the wealth of new data interrogating these predictions in crops. We describe the agronomic practices, ecological scenarios, and genomic attributes that can result in the disruption of symbiosis, and highlight new work probing its molecular basis. To improve agricultural output and sustainability, research should develop breeding methods to optimize symbiotic outcomes in crop species.

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