Soil microbial mutualists of plants, including mycorrhizal fungi, non-mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, have been typically characterized for increasing nutrient acquisition and plant growth. More recently, soil microbes have also been shown to increase direct plant defense against above- and belowground herbivores. Plants, however, do not only rely on direct defenses when attacked, but they can also recruit pest antagonists such as predators and parasitoids, both above and belowground, mainly via the release of volatile organic compounds (i.e., indirect defenses). In this review, we illustrate the main features and effects of soil microbial mutualists of plants on plant indirect defenses and discuss possible applications within the framework of sustainable crop protection against root- and shoot-feeding arthropod pests. We indicate the main knowledge gaps and the future challenges to be addressed in the study and application of these multifaceted interactions.
- arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
- crop protection
- entomopathogenic nematodes
- plant growth promoting rhizobacteria