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Using high-tech tools, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their cooperators have taken a deep dive into the microbial "soup" of the cow's rumen, the first of four stomach chambers where tough plant fibers are turned into nutrients and energy.

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Halophytes are plants that are adapted to grow in saline soils, and have been widely studied for their physiological and molecular characteristics, but little is known about their associated microbiomes.

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Plant-pathogen interactions are shaped by multiple environmental factors, making it difficult to predict disease dynamics even in relatively simple agricultural monocultures. Here, we explored how variation in the initial soil microbiome predicts future disease outcomes at the level of individual plants.