Plants benefit from their close association with soil microbes which assist in their response to abiotic and biotic stressors. Yet much of what we know about plant stress responses is based on studies where the microbial partners were uncontrolled and unknown. Under climate change, the soil microbial community will also be sensitive to and respond to abiotic and biotic stressors. Thus, facilitating plant adaptation to climate change will require a systems-based approach that accounts for the multi-dimensional nature of plant-microbe-environment interactions. In this perspective, we highlight some of the key factors influencing plant-microbe interactions under stress as well as new tools to facilitate the controlled study of their molecular complexity, such as fabricated ecosystems and synthetic communities. When paired with genomic and biochemical methods, these tools provide researchers with more precision, reproducibility, and manipulability for exploring plant-microbe-environment interactions under a changing climate.