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  1. Plant microbiota play essential roles in plant health and crop productivity. Comparisons of community composition have suggested seed, soil, and the atmosphere as reservoirs of phyllosphere microbiota. After finding that leaves of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants exposed to rain carried a higher microbial population size than leaves of tomato plants not exposed to rain, we experimentally tested the hypothesis that rain is a thus-far-neglected reservoir of phyllosphere microbiota. Therefore, rain microbiota were compared with phyllosphere microbiota of tomato plants either treated with concentrated rain microbiota, filter-sterilized rain, or sterile water. Based on 16S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing, 104 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) significantly increased in relative abundance after inoculation with concentrated rain microbiota but no OTU significantly increased after treatment with either sterile water or filter-sterilized rain. Some of the genera to which these 104 OTUs belonged were also found at higher relative abundance on tomato plants exposed to rain outdoors than on tomato plants grown protected from rain in a commercial greenhouse. Taken together, these results point to precipitation as a reservoir of phyllosphere microbiota and show the potential of controlled experiments to investigate the role of different reservoirs in the assembly of phyllosphere microbiota.
  2. Parasitic plants steal sugars, water, and other nutrients from host plants through a haustorial connection. Several species of parasitic plants such as witchweeds ( Striga spp.) and broomrapes ( Orobanche and Phelipanche spp.) are major biotic constraints to agricultural production. Parasitic plants are understudied compared with other major classes of plant pathogens, but the recent availability of genomic and transcriptomic data has accelerated the rate of discovery of the molecular mechanisms underpinning plant parasitism. Here, we review the current body of knowledge of how parasitic plants sense host plants, germinate, form parasitic haustorial connections, and suppress host plant immune responses. Additionally, we assess whether parasitic plants fit within the current paradigms used to understand the molecular mechanisms of microbial plant–pathogen interactions. Finally, we discuss challenges facing parasitic plant research and propose the most urgent questions that need to be answered to advance our understanding of plant parasitism.