Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 323–331 | Cite as

Piriformospora indica improves salinity stress tolerance in Zea mays L. plants by regulating Na+ and K+ loading in root and allocating K+ in shoot

  • Ping Yun
  • Le Xu
  • Sai-Sai Wang
  • Lana Shabala
  • Sergey ShabalaEmail author
  • Wen-Ying ZhangEmail author
Original paper


Piriformospora indica is known as a fungus that can easily colonize a wide range of plants and enhance host’s growth and tolerance to abiotic stresses, including salinity. The mechanistic basis behind this phenomenon remains poorly understood. This work was aimed to fill in this gap and reveal mechanisms enhancing salinity tolerance in maize roots colonised by P. indica. A range of agronomic and physiological characteristics were compared between inoculated and non-inoculated maize plants under 0/100/200 mM NaCl conditions. The impact of P. indica inoculation or root’s cytosolic K+ retention ability were also assessed using micro-electrode ion flux estimation technique. The results showed that inoculated plants had higher biomass, higher stomatal conductance, lower K+ efflux from roots and higher potassium content in shoots than non-inoculated plants under salt stress. Collectively, the results indicated that the beneficial effects of inoculation on plant performance under saline conditions were mainly attributed to the improved stomata operation associated with higher rate of K delivery into the shoots.


Piriformospora indica Salinity stress Potassium loading Micro-electrode ion flux estimation 



Abscisic acid


Arbuscular mycorrhizal


Basic salt medium


Intercellular CO2 concentration


Dry weight


Fresh weight


Stomatal conductance




Micro-electrode ion flux estimation


Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria

P. indica

Piriformospora indica


Net photosynthetic rate


Thiobarbituric acid


Trichloroacetic acid





The financial support was provided by Engineering Research Centre of Ecology and Agricultural Use of Wetland, Ministry of Education (KF201605), and the open fund of Hubei Collaborative Innovation Centre for Grain Industry (LXT-16-10).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to this work.

Supplementary material

10725_2018_431_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.4 mb)
Fig. S1 Experimental protocols and inoculation examination: (a) A schematic diagram of 23 the experimental protocols employed in this study. b, c - P. indica colonization of maize roots. (b) Control, (c) Root segments stained with trypan blue showing colonization of Z. mays by P.indica (arrow). Fig. S2 Photos of plants taken 5 days after onset of salt stress: (a) 0 mM NaCl +P. indica, (b) 100 mM NaCl +P. indica, (c) 200 mM NaCl +P. indica, (d) 0 mM NaCl -P. indica, (e) 100 mM NaCl -P. indica, (f) 200 mM NaCl -P. indica. Fig. S3 Photos of roots taken 5 days after onset of salt stress. (a) 0 mM NaCl +P. indica, (b) 100 mM NaCl +P. indica, (c) 200 mM NaCl +P. indica, (d) 0 mM NaCl -P. indica, (e) 100 mM NaCl -P. indica, (f) 200 mM NaCl -P. indica. (DOC 1451 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hubei Collaborative Innovation Centre for Grain Industry/ School of AgricultureYangtze UniversityJingzhouChina
  2. 2.Tasmanian Institute of AgricultureUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.Department of HorticultureFoshan UniversityFoshanChina

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