A growing body of research is highlighting the impacts root-associated microbial communities can have on plant health and development. These impacts can include changes in yield quantity and quality, timing of key developmental stages and tolerance of biotic and abiotic stresses. With such a range of effects it is clear that understanding the factors that contribute to a plant-beneficial root microbiome may prove advantageous. Increasing demands for food by a growing human population increases the importance and urgency of understanding how microbiomes may be exploited to increase crop yields and reduce losses caused by disease. In addition, climate change effects may require novel approaches to overcoming abiotic stresses such as drought and salinity as well as new emerging diseases. This review discusses current knowledge on the formation and maintenance of root-associated microbial communities and plant–microbe interactions with a particular emphasis on the effect of microbe–microbe interactions on the shape of microbial communities at the root surface. Further, we discuss the potential for root microbiome modification to benefit agriculture and food production.