Strategies for tailoring functional microbial synthetic communities

Jiayi Jing, Paolina Garbeva* (Corresponding author), Jos M. Raaijmakers, Marnix H. Medema* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalBook/Film/Article reviewScientific


Natural ecosystems harbor a huge reservoir of taxonomically diverse microbes that are important for plant growth and health. The vast diversity of soil microorganisms and their complex interactions make it challenging to pinpoint the main players important for the life support functions microbes can provide to plants, including enhanced tolerance to (a)biotic stress factors. Designing simplified microbial synthetic communities (SynComs) helps reduce this complexity to unravel the molecular and chemical basis and interplay of specific microbiome functions. While SynComs have been successfully employed to dissect microbial interactions or reproduce microbiome-associated phenotypes, the assembly and reconstitution of these communities have often been based on generic abundance patterns or taxonomic identities and co-occurrences but have only rarely been informed by functional traits. Here, we review recent studies on designing functional SynComs to reveal common principles and discuss multidimensional approaches for community design. We propose a strategy for tailoring the design of functional SynComs based on integration of high-throughput experimental assays with microbial strains and computational genomic analyses of their functional capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe ISME journal
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2024


  • bioinformatics
  • high-throughput screening
  • microbial ecology
  • microbial functions
  • synthetic communities


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