Trends in Biotechnology 39(3) , 244-261 (Mar 2021)
To support an ever-increasing population, modern agriculture faces numerous challenges that pose major threats to global food and energy security. Plant-associated microbes, with their many plant growth-promoting (PGP) traits, have enormous potential in helping to solve these challenges. However, the results of their use in agriculture have been variable, probably because of poor colonization. Phytomicrobiome engineering is an emerging field of synthetic biology that may offer ways to alleviate this limitation. This review highlights recent advances in both bottom-up and top-down approaches to engineering non-model bacteria and microbiomes to promote beneficial plant-microbe interactions, as well as advances in strategies to evaluate these interactions. Biosafety, biosecurity, and biocontainment strategies to address the environmental concerns associated with field use of synthetic microbes are also discussed.