An explosion of studies in recent years has established the ubiquity of host-associated microbes and their centrality to host biology (McFall-Ngai et al., 2013; Russell, Dubilier, & Rudgers, 2014). Microbes aid in digestion, modulate development, contribute to host immunity, mediate abiotic stress and more. While relationships with host-associated microbes are ubiquitous and important, they are cer- tainly not monolithic. Characterizing the microbial diversity associ- ated with an ever-broadening array of hosts (diverse animals, plants, algae and protists) has shown that essential functions can be per- formed by microbes that are integrated with the host to varying degrees, ranging from embedded endosymbionts to a variable cast of transient microbes acquired from the environment. The maturing host–microbiome field is now developing a mechanistic understand- ing of host/microbe relationships across this spectrum and the cross- talk mediating these interactions. Similarly, studies across systems are illuminating the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape host–microbe interactions today and providing hints into the origins of specific relationships.
Journal: Molecular ecology