Native symbiotic fungi increase stress tolerance and productivity of plants in arid lands

TitleNative symbiotic fungi increase stress tolerance and productivity of plants in arid lands
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsLucero M.E., Reyes-Vera I., Vivenhananthan E., Barrow J.R., Sedillo R.L.
Conference NameSymposium on Efficient Water Use in the Urban Landscape
Date PublishedFebruary 23-24,
Conference LocationLas Cruces, NM
ARIS Log Number198399
Keywordsfungi, microbial ecology, plant stress
AbstractPlants indigenous to arid lands have evolved to withstand extremes of moisture and temperature. Recent advances in microbial ecology have revealed that a portion of plant stress tolerance comes, not from the plant itself, but from unseen fungi that reside within plant tissues. The ability of these symbiotic fungi to confer drought and salt stress tolerance on plant hosts make them uniquely valuable for landscapes where water is limited or where drip irrigation is utilized. Here we describe fungi associated with four species of Chihuahuan desert plants which can be transferred to non-native hosts. A patent-pending technique was used to transfer these unculturable fungi to native grasses (Bouteloua and Sporobolous species), chile (Capsicum annum), tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), and shasta daisys (Chrysanthemum maximum). The productivity of recipient plants, measured at various stages in the growth cycle, indicates that fungal recipients fared remarkably well compared to untreated plants receiving equal water and nutrients. Chile plants were also exposed to salt stress trials in which salt stress tolerance varied between endophyte treatments. Fungi from creosote bush (Larrea tridentada) were particularly efficient at increasing salt tolerance.