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[SANET-MG] fungal endophyte for organic insect control

Published online before print September 8, 2005
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0504423102
Agricultural Sciences
The endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica reprograms barley to salt-stress tolerance, disease resistance, and higher yield

Frank Waller *, Beate Achatz *, Helmut Baltruschat *, József Fodor , Katja Becker ¶, Marina Fischer ¶, Tobias Heier *, Ralph Hückelhoven *, Christina Neumann *, Diter von Wettstein ||, Philipp Franken , and Karl-Heinz Kogel *,** *Institute of Phytopathology and Applied Zoology, University of Giessen, D-35392 Giessen, Germany; Institute for Vegetables and Ornamental Crops, D-14979 Grossbeeren, Germany; Plant Protection Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-1525 Budapest, Hungary; ¶Institute of Nutritional Biochemistry, University of Giessen, D-35392 Giessen, Germany; and ||Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6420

Disease resistance strategies are powerful approaches to sustainable agriculture because they reduce chemical input into the environment. Recently, Piriformospora indica, a plant-root-colonizing basidiomycete fungus, has been discovered in the Indian Thar desert and was shown to provide strong growth-promoting activity during its symbiosis with a broad spectrum of plants [Verma, S. et al. (1998) Mycologia 90, 896-903]. Here, we report on the potential of P. indica to induce resistance to fungal diseases and tolerance to salt stress in the monocotyledonous plant barley. The beneficial effect on the defense status is detected in distal leaves, demonstrating a systemic induction of resistance by a root-endophytic fungus. The systemically altered "defense readiness" is associated with an elevated antioxidative capacity due to an activation of the glutathione-ascorbate cycle and results in an overall increase in grain yield. Because P. indica can be easily propagated in the absence of a host plant, we conclude that the fungus could be exploited to increase disease resistance and yield in crop plants.

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