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Importance of phosphorus supply through endophytic Metarhizium brunneum for root:shoot allocation and root architecture in potato plants

Abstract

Background and aims

Recent studies indicate the potential of endophytic entomopathogenic fungi to promote plant growth but little is known about the responses of root architecture to fungal endophytism. This study investigates potential adaptations of root architecture upon Metarhizium brunneum endophytism linked to improved plant growth and nutrition.

Methods

Plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) were grown in the presence of M. brunneum applied either as non-formulated mycelium or as mycelium containing beads. After 35 days, fungal growth, root endophytism, plant biomass and nutrition as well as root attributes were determined.

Results

In response to endophytism promoted by bead application, plant P contents and biomass were significantly increased, while N contents and shoot allocation were also significantly increased in plants from the beads without mycelium group. Bead application resulted in a shift from fine to medium-sized roots and in an increase in the number of root forks, while root diameter, surface area and the number of root tips and crossings were independent of either bead or M. brunneum treatment.

Conclusions

M. brunneum containing beads supported endophytism allowing for increases in plant P contents and biomass. However, root architecture was not strongly modulated by M. brunneum endophytism with N provision through bead application being more important than fungal P delivery.

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Acknowledgements

The research conducted in this study was funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (31421/01). We would like to thank Prof. Dr. Stefan Vidal (Agricultural Entomology, Department for Crop Science, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Germany) for providing Metarhizium brunneum strain CB15. Special thanks to Herbstreith & Fox KG (Neuenbuerg/Wuertt, Germany) for providing the amidated pectins and to the WG Microbial Genomics and Biotechnology (Center for Biotechnology, Bielefeld, Germany) for providing access to the real-time PCR equipment. Finally, we would like to thank Elke Furlkroeger, Christine Schlueter and Barbara Teichner for their support during plant harvest and laboratory work.

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Correspondence to Anant V. Patel.

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Responsible Editor: Katharina Pawlowski.

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Krell, V., Unger, S., Jakobs-Schoenwandt, D. et al. Importance of phosphorus supply through endophytic Metarhizium brunneum for root:shoot allocation and root architecture in potato plants. Plant Soil 430, 87–97 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3718-2

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Keywords

  • Biofertilizer
  • Encapsulation
  • Endophytes
  • Mycorrhiza
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus