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Untapped Plant Microbiome Could Help Feed Billions

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The Human Microbiome Project revealed tens of trillions of microbes residing in and on humans. Now scientists are taking a census of plant microbes—and not just the hundreds of billions found in soils. Distinct microbial communities live inside roots, on leaves and within flowers, and all in all have an estimated three to six orders of magnitude greater genetic diversity than their plant hosts. This second genome, much like the human microbiome, provides plants access to nutrients and helps to suppress disease. Scientists and farmers alike think it represents the next big thing in agriculture.

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