Synthetic microbial communities (SynComs) are a useful tool for a more realistic understanding of the outcomes of multiple biotic interactions where microbes, plants, and the environment are players in time and space of a multidimensional and complex system. Toward a more in-depth overview of the knowledge that has been achieved using SynComs in the rhizosphere, a systematic review of the literature on SynComs was performed to identify the overall rationale, design criteria, experimental procedures, and outcomes of in vitro or in planta tests using this strategy. After an extensive bibliography search and a specific selection process, a total of 30 articles were chosen for further analysis, grouping them by their reported SynCom size. The reported SynComs were constituted with a highly variable number of members, ranging from 3 to 190 strains, with a total of 1,393 bacterial isolates, where the three most represented phyla were Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes. Only four articles did not reference experiments with SynCom on plants, as they considered only microbial in vitro studies, whereas the others chose different plant models and plant-growth systems; some of them are described and reviewed in this article. Besides, a discussion on different approaches (bottom-up and top-down) to study the microbiome role in the rhizosphere is provided, highlighting how SynComs are an effective system to connect and fill some knowledge gaps and to have a better understanding of the mechanisms governing these multiple interactions. Although the SynCom approach is already helpful and has a promising future, more systematic and standardized studies are needed to harness its full potential.
- core microbiome
- plant growth promoting bacteria
- plant microbiome