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  1. Tree planting and natural regeneration contribute to the ongoing effort to restore Earth's forests. Our review addresses how the plant microbiome can enhance the survival of planted and naturally regenerating seedlings and serve in long-term forest carbon capture and the conservation of biodiversity. We focus on fungal leaf endophytes, ubiquitous defensive symbionts that protect against pathogens. We first show that fungal and oomycetous pathogen richness varies greatly for tree species native to the United States ( n = 0–876 known pathogens per US tree species), with nearly half of tree species either without pathogens in these major groups or with unknown pathogens. Endophytes are insurance against the poorly known and changing threat of tree pathogens. Next, we review studies of plant phyllosphere feedback, but knowledge gaps prevent us from evaluating whether adding conspecific leaf litter to planted seedlings promotes defensive symbiosis, analogous to adding soil to promote positive feedback. Finally, we discuss research priorities for integrating the plant microbiome into efforts to expand Earth's forests. 
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