Root colonization by Piriformospora indica enhances grain yield in barley under diverse nutrient regimes by accelerating plant development.
The basidiomycete fungus Piriformospora indica colonizes roots of a broad range of mono- and dicotyledonous plants. It confers enhanced growth, improves resistance against biotic and tolerance to abiotic stress, and enhances grain yield in barley. To analyze mechanisms underlying P. indica-induced improved grain yield in a crop plant, the influence of different soil nutrient levels and enhanced biotic stress were tested under outdoor conditions. Higher grain yield was induced by the fungus independent of different phosphate and nitrogen fertilization levels. In plants challenged with the root rot-causing fungus Fusarium graminearum, was able to induce a similar magnitude of yield increase as in unchallenged plants. In contrast to the arbuscular mycorrhiza fungus Glomus mosseae, total phosphate contents of host plant roots and shoots were not significantly affected by P. indica. On the other hand, barley plants colonised with the endophyte developed faster, and were characterized by a higher photosynthetic activity at low light intensities. Together with the increased root formation early in development these factors contribute to faster development of ears as well as the production of more tillers per plant. The results indicate that the positive effect of P. indica on grain yield is due to accelerated growth of barley plants early in development, while improved phosphate supply—a central mechanism of host plant fortification by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi—was not observed in the P. indica-barley symbiosis.
Achatz, B.; von Rüden, S.; Andrade-Linares, D.R.; Neumann, E.; Pons-Kühnemann, J.; Kogel, K.H.; Franken, P.; Waller, F. 2010. Root colonization by Piriformospora indica enhances grain yield in barley under diverse nutrient regimes by accelerating plant development. Plant and Soil 333, 59-70.