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Do Endophytes Promote Growth of Host Plants Under Stress? A Meta-Analysis on Plant Stress Mitigation by Endophytes

Rho, Hyungmin, Hsieh, Marian, Kandel, ShyamL., Cantillo, Johanna, Doty, SharonL., Kim, Soo-Hyung
Microbial ecology 2018 v.75 no.2 pp. 407-418
C3 plants, C4 plants, Liliopsida, biomass production, drought, endophytes, host plants, meta-analysis, moieties, nitrogen, plant response, salinity, salt stress, symbionts
Endophytes are microbial symbionts living inside plants and have been extensively researched in recent decades for their functions associated with plant responses to environmental stress. We conducted a meta-analysis of endophyte effects on host plants’ growth and fitness in response to three abiotic stress factors: drought, nitrogen deficiency, and excessive salinity. Ninety-four endophyte strains and 42 host plant species from the literature were evaluated in the analysis. Endophytes increased biomass accumulation of host plants under all three stress conditions. The stress mitigation effects by endophytes were similar among different plant taxa or functional groups with few exceptions; eudicots and C₄ species gained more biomass than monocots and C₃ species with endophytes, respectively, under drought conditions. Our analysis supports the effectiveness of endophytes in mitigating drought, nitrogen deficiency, and salinity stress in a wide range of host species with little evidence of plant-endophyte specificity.