Microorganisms have long been isolated from soils to develop microbial inoculants, with the goal of spiking them into new soils to augment target functions. However, establishment can be sporadic, and we assume that inoculants simply arrive at their destination. Here, we posit a need for integrating dispersal into inoculant development and deployment. We argue that consideration for an inoculant's dispersal ability, whether via active (e.g., chemotaxis) or passive (e.g., attachment to other organisms) means, and including methods of deployment that allow multiple establishment attempts could help increase the predictability of inoculant success. Dispersal can influence many key aspects of in-field survival, including the ability to escape stressors, seek favorable colonization sites, facilitate multiple establishment attempts, and engage in multikingdom interactions.
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