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Piriformospora indica
Vol.
33, 2013; Pages: 251 - 261

A Mixed Bag: The Plant Growth-PromotingSebacina vermifera Impairs Defense Mechanisms Against Herbivores

Oz Barazani, Ian Thomas Baldwin

Amity Institute of Microbial Technology, Amity University Uttar Pradesh.

Abstract

Belowground interactions of plants with beneficial plant growth-promoting microorganisms (PGPM) enhance plant growth and fitness and can alter a plant’s ability to cope with its environment. By increasing plant nutritional uptake, PGPM may indirectly enhance a plant’s ability to withstand harsh conditions. However, very often the mode of action of PGPM involves interference with a plant’s hormonal balance, which may have either positive or negative effects on a plant’s interactions with biotic and abiotic stressors. Here we discuss the possibility that the outcome of associating with the genetically similar Sebacina vermifera and Piriformospora indica fungi involves increases in a plant’s susceptibility to herbivores. Defense mechanisms against herbivores are mainly regulated by jasmonic acid and its fine-tuned cross talk with other phytohormones. Thus, the ability of the Sebacinales fungi to produce IAA and shut down defenses against microorganisms by interfering with ethylene synthesis can result in promoting growth effects but at a cost to defense-related signaling pathways. That growth promotion comes at the expense of resistance to herbivore attack calls into question the mutualistic nature of the interaction with these fungi.

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