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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2000 Sep;38:145-180. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.38.1.145.

The Ecology and Biogeography of Microorganisms on Plant Surfaces.

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Department of Plant Pathology and 2Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1598; e-mail: ,


The vast surface of the plant axis, stretching from root tips occasionally buried deeply in anoxic sediment, to apical meristems held far aloft, provides an extraordinarily diverse habitat for microorganisms. Each zone has to a greater or lesser extent its own cohort of microorganisms, in aggregate comprising representatives from all three primary domains of life-Bacteria, Archaea, and Eucarya. While the plant sets the stage for its microbial inhabitants, they, in turn, have established varied relationships with their large partner. These associations range from relatively inconsequential (transient epiphytic saprophytes) to substantial (epiphytic commensals, mutualistic symbionts, endophytes, or pathogens). Through recent technological breakthroughs, a much better perspective is beginning to emerge on the nature of these relationships, but still relatively little is known about the role of epiphytic microbial associations in the life of the plant.


ecophysiology; epiphyte; phyllosphere; phylogenetics; rhizosphere; symbiosis

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