Plant-microbe symbioses span a continuum from pathogenic to mutualistic with functional consequences for both organisms in the symbiosis. In order to increase sustainable food and fuel production in the future, it is imperative that we harness these symbioses. The tree genus Populus is an excellent model system for studies examining plant-microbe interactions due to the wealth of genomic information available and the molecular tools that have been developed to manipulate Populus-microbe symbioses. In this review, we highlight how Populus can serve as a model system to explore plant-microbe interactions. Specifically, highlighting research linking Populus-microbe interactions from the gene to the ecosystem level. We explore why Populus is an excellent model for perennial plant systems, the molecular underpinnings of Populus-microbe interactions, how host genetics influence microbial community composition, and how microbial communities vary at fine spatial scales and between Populus species. Further, we explore how the patterns of the microbiome may affect ecosystem level functions in managed and natural ecosystems. Understanding and manipulating these interactions in Populus has the potential to improve plant health and impact ecosystem sustainability and processes as Populus trees function as foundational species in many natural ecosystems and are also deployed in managed ecosystems for various agroforestry applications.