Plants harbor a wide diversity of microorganisms in their tissues. Some of them have a long co-evolutionary history with their hosts, likely playing a pivotal role in regulating the plant interaction with other microbes such as pathogens. Some cool-season grasses are symbiotic with Epichloe fungal endophytes that grow symptomless and systemically in aboveground tissues. Among the many benefits that have been ascribed to endophytes, their role in mediating plant interactions with pathogens has been scarcely developed. Here, we explored the effects of Epichloe fungal endophytes on the interaction of host grasses with fungal pathogens. We made a meta-analysis that covered a total of 18 host grass species, 11 fungal endophyte species, and 22 fungal pathogen species. We observed endophyte-mediated negative effects on pathogens in vitro and in planta. Endophyte negative effects on pathogens were apparent not only in laboratory but also in greenhouse and\nfield experiments. Epichloe fungal endophytes had negative effects on pathogen growth and spores’ germination. On living plants, endophytes reduced both severity and incidence of\nthe disease as well as colonization and subsequent infection of seeds. Symbiosis with endophytes showed an inhibitory effect on debilitator and killer pathogens, but not on castrators,\nand this effect did not differ among biotrophic or necrotrophic lifestyles. We found that this protection can be direct through the production of fungistatic compounds, the competition for a common resource, or the induction of plant defenses, and indirect associated with endophyte-generated changes in the abiotic or the biotic environment. Several mechanisms operate simultaneously and contribute differentially to the reduction of disease within grass populations.
Pérez, L. I.; Gundel, P. E.; Zabalgogeazcoa, I.; & Omacini, M. (2020). An ecological framework for understanding the roles of Epichloe endophytes on plant defenses against fungal diseases. Fungal biology reviews,34, (3),p.115-125
Pérez, Luis Ignacio, Gundel, Pedro Emilio, Zabalgogeazcoa, Iñigo, Omacini, Marina. 2020. "An ecological framework for understanding the roles of Epichloe endophytes on plant defenses against fungal diseases". Fungal biology reviews 34, no.3:115-125.
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