Caister Academic Press

CIMB Abstract

Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. (2019) 30: 59-74.
https://doi.org/10.21775/cimb.030.059

Endofungal Bacteria Increase Fitness of their Host Fungi and Impact their Association with Crop Plants

Ibrahim Alabid, Stefanie P. Glaeser and Karl-Heinz Kogel

Endofungal bacteria are bacterial symbionts of fungi that exist within fungal hyphae and spores. There is increasing evidence that these bacteria, alone or in combination with their fungal hosts play a critical role in tripartite symbioses with plants, where they may contribute to plant growth and disease resistance to microbial pathogens. As the frequency of bacteria in fungi is commonly very low, breakthroughs in technology such as molecular taxonomy and laser scanning microscopy were required to establish the functional contribution of these bacteria in complex symbioses. Yet, the overall biological significance of endofungal bacteria is largely unknown and further progress in understanding is hampered by a very few biological systems where endofungal bacteria have been described mechanistically. We review here the current knowledge on endobacteria (EB) and their role in different types of fungal symbioses with plants. We show that various attempts to cure fungal cells from endobacteria failed, further suggesting that they play a crucial role in the symbiosis. Moreover, isolation of some of the endobacteria from their fungal hosts allowed confirming their autonomous beneficial activity such as plant growth promotion and resistance-inducing activity. The review addresses the potential agricultural significance of endofungal bacteria and their role in supporting sustainable agriculture by promoting plant growth, improving plant resistance, and decreasing yield loss caused by many microbial pathogens.

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