Description: The rapidly growing industry of crop biostimulants leverages the application of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) to promote plant growth and health. However, introducing non-native rhizobacteria may impact other aspects of ecosystem functioning and have legacy effects; these potential consequences are largely unexplored. Non-target consequences of PGPR may include changes in resident microbiomes, nutrient cycling, pollinator services, functioning of other herbivores, disease suppression, and organic matter persistence. Importantly, we lack knowledge of whether these ecosystem effects may manifest in adjacent ecosystems. The introduced PGPR can leave a functional legacy whether they persist in the community or not. Legacy effects include shifts in resident microbiomes and their temporal dynamics, horizontal transfer of genes from the PGPR to resident taxa, and changes in resident functional groups and interaction networks. Ecosystem functions may be affected by legacies PGPR leave following niche construction, such as when PGPR alter soil pH that in turn alters biogeochemical cycling rates. Here, we highlight new research directions to elucidate how introduced PGPR impact resident microbiomes and ecosystem functions and their capacity for legacy effects.
Corresponding Member: Melissa Cregger