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Effects of dark septate endophytes on tomato plant performance.

Non-mycorrhizal fungal root endophytes can be found in all natural and cultivated ecosystems, but little is known about their impact on plant performance. The impact of three mitosporic dark septate endophytes (DSE48, DSE49 and Leptodontidium orchidicola) on tomato plant characteristics was studied. Their effects on root and shoot growth, their influence on fruit yield and fruit quality parameters and their ability to diminish the impact of the pathogen Verticillium dahliae were investigated. While shoot biomass of young plants was enhanced between 10% and 20% by the endophytes DSE48 and L. orchidicola in one of two experiments and by DSE49 in both experiments, vegetative growth parameters of 24-week-old plants were not affected except a reproducible increase of root diameter by the isolate DSE49. Concerning fruit yield and quality, L. orchidicola could double the biomass of tomatoes and increased glucose content by 17%, but this was dependent on date of harvest and on root colonisation density. Additionally, the endophytes DSE49 and L. orchidicola decreased the negative effect of V. dahliae on tomato, but only at a low dosage of the pathogen. This indicates that the three dark septate endophytes can have a significant impact on tomato characters, but that the effects are only obvious at early stages of vegetative and generative development and currently too inconsistent to recommend the application of these DSEs in horticultural practice.

Andrade-Linares, D.R.; Grosch, R.; Restrepo, S.; Krumbein, A.; Franken, P. 2011. Effects of dark septate endophytes on tomato plant performance. Mycorrhiza 21 (5), 413-422.