European Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 153, Issue 4, pp 1031–1042 | Cite as

Enhancement of Populus alba tolerance to Venturia tremulae upon inoculation with endophytes showing in vitro biocontrol potential

  • C. Martínez-Arias
  • D. Macaya-Sanz
  • J. Witzell
  • J. A. MartínEmail author


Several studies have provided evidence that endophytes of forest trees can provide the trees with protection against pests and pathogens, but more experimental evidence is still needed to better understand if endophytes could be utilized in biocontrol of forest diseases. Here, we tested the hypothesis that fungal endophytes of Populus alba L. contribute to tree tolerance to Venturia tremulae Aderh., causal agent of shoot dieback in trees within Populus section. Fungal endophytes were isolated from twigs of two healthy P. alba trees, and classified according to their morphology and ITS sequence. Pleosporales, Dothideales and Eurotiales were the main fungal orders represented. Twelve isolates were challenged by the pathogen in in vitro dual assays and 10 of them reduced the growth rate of the pathogen. A mixed cell suspension from these endophytes was applied as a preventive treatment to P. alba seedlings growing in the greenhouse with the exception of positive control plants. Fifteen days later, plants were treated with a V. tremulae spore suspension. An additional control group of Populus x canescens (Aiton) Sm. seedlings were also inoculated with V. tremulae. Although the overall incidence of symptoms was low, both the incidence and severity of damages were lower in P. alba plants pretreated with endophytes than in controls (43.18 and 12.16% of incidence and severity reduction, respectively). Incidence of symptoms was higher in P. x canescens than in P. alba seedlings, evidencing the higher tolerance of P. alba to Venturia shoot blight. The results suggest that P. alba endophyte community may reinforce the host’s tolerance to the pathogen.


Endophytic fungi Biological control Populus (Salicaceae) Venturia tremulae (Pleosporales, Venturiaceae) 



We are very grateful to Dr. Hugo Mas i Gisbert (Laboratori de Sanitat Forestal, CIEF, Generalitat Valenciana) for providing plant material.


This study was funded by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain (CTQ2011–28503-C02–02).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author Clara Martínez-Arias declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Author David Macaya-Sanz declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Author Johanna Witzell declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Author Juan A. Martín declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Planteziektenkundige Vereniging 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Martínez-Arias
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. Macaya-Sanz
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. Witzell
    • 4
  • J. A. Martín
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica y del Medio NaturalUniversitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Sistemas y Recursos Naturales. ETSI Montes, Forestal y del Medio NaturalUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Department of BiologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  4. 4.Southern Swedish Forest Research CenterSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden

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