Paecilomyces variotii extracts (ZNC) enhance plant immunity and promote plant growth

  • Chongchong Lu
  • Haifeng Liu
  • Depeng Jiang
  • Lulu Wang
  • Yanke Jiang
  • Shuya Tang
  • Xuwen Hou
  • Xinyi Han
  • Zhiguang Liu
  • Min Zhang
  • Zhaohui Chu
  • Xinhua DingEmail author
Regular Article


Background and aims

The crude extract of the endophyte Paecilomyces variotii known as ZhiNengCong (ZNC) has function of promoting plant growth and enhancing disease resistance and is widely used in China. Our study aims to evaluate the molecular mechanisms of plant growth promotion and disease protection.


We generated transcriptome profiles from ZNC-treated seedlings using RNA sequencing. The function of salicylic acid (SA) in ZNC-mediated immunity was examined using SA biosynthesis and signaling pathway mutants. The concentrations of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in seedlings under ZNC treatment were measured. The effect of ZNC on the level of the hormone auxin in roots was tested using transgenic plants containing DR5::GFP.


ZNC exhibited ultrahigh activity in promoting plant growth and enhancing disease resistance, even at concentrations as low as 1–10 ng/ml. ZNC induced ROS accumulation, callose deposition, and expression of PR genes. SA biosynthesis and signaling pathways were required for the ZNC-mediated defense response. Moreover, in improving plant growth, ZNC increased the level of auxin in root tips and regulated the absorption of N and P.


According to these results, ZNC is a highly effective plant elicitor that promotes plant growth by inducing auxin accumulation at the root tip at low concentrations and enhances plant disease resistance by activating the SA signaling pathway at high concentrations.


Plant elicitors Plant growth promotion Plant endophyte Disease resistance Auxin Salicylic acid 





Salicylic acid


Pathogenesis-related protein






Reactive oxygen species




Nitroblue tetrazolium


Hydrogen peroxide



This study was supported by the Major Agricultural Application Technology Innovation Project of Shandong Province (2016), the Natural Science Fund for Outstanding Young Scholars of Shandong Province (JQ201807), the National Natural Science Foundation (31872925), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0200706), funds of the Shandong “Double Tops” Program, the Taishan Industrial Experts Program (No. tscy20150621), and the Shandong Modern Agricultural Technology & Industry System (SDAIT-17-06).

Author contributions

X.D. designed the experiments. C.L., D.J., L.W., Y. J., S. T., X.H., X.H. performed the experiments. C.L., H.L., Z. L., M.Z., Z.C. and X.D. analyzed the data. C.L., H.L. and X.D. wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (XLS 744 bytes)
11104_2019_4130_MOESM2_ESM.docx (1.3 mb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 1321 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory for Biology of Vegetable Diseases and Insect PestsShandong Agricultural UniversityTaianPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Shandong Pengbo Biotechnology Co., LTDTaianChina
  3. 3.National Engineering Laboratory for Efficient Utilization of Soil and Fertilizer Resources, College of Recourses and EnvironmentShandong Agricultural UniversityTaianChina

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