Project

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Natural disease control by root endophytes in a changing climate

English title Natural disease control by root endophytes in a changing climate
Applicant Sieber Thomas Niklaus
Number 113977
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Professur Forstschutz und Dendrologie Institut für Integrative Biologie Departement Umweltwissenschaften
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.12.2006 - 31.01.2010
Approved amount 182'172.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Ecology
Environmental Research
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

Keywords (6)

global warming; root diseases; Phialocephala fortinii s.1.; dark septate endophytes (DSE); Phytophthora pathofenes; tree root endophytes

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The increasing number of reports from allover the world about devastating declines of woody plant species due to root diseases caused by fungi of the genus Phytophthora (greek for “plant killer”) and the advent of new, more aggressive hybrids shows the urgency to seek biocontrol agents against these diseases. Studies about biocontrol agents of Phytophthora diseases had been concentrated on antagonistic bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi. However, there exists also a distinct community of fungal root endophytes that might be active against Phytophthora diseases. In conifers, this fungal community is dominated by dark septate endophytes (DSE), in particular by Phialocephala fortinii s.l. (s.l. = sensu lato (in the broad sense), because P. fortinii is a species complex of several reproductively isolated, but morphologically indistinguishable species), a supposedly asexual ascomycete. P. fortinii s.l. is ubiquitously distributed in temperate forest ecosystems where it colonizes roots of all age classes. P. fortinii s.l. showed antagonistic activities against several soilborne pathogens such as Verticillium species, Heterobasidion annosum, Rhizoctonia solani or Fusarium oxysporum. Conifers usually exhibit a high degree of colonization by P. fortinii s. l. and are less susceptible to Phytophthora diseases whereas deciduous broadleaf trees are significantly less frequently colonized by P. fortinii s.l. but are more susceptible to Phytophthora species. We hypothesize that endophytic colonization of tree roots by P. fortinii s.l. protects the host plant against Phytophthora diseases, and that the predicted climate change will increase the risk of such diseases. The root endophytes will also respond to environmental change, and the endophyte-mediated resistance of the hosts may be affected. We intend to test the ability of P. fortinii s.l.to protect Norway spruce (Picea abies) and European beech (Fagussylvatica) against Phytophthora citricola in an in vitro system under different temperature regimes. The experimental program will be multidisciplinary in approach and include molecular (quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), sequencing), mycological, phytopathological (infection experiments, epifluorescence microscopy) and statistical methods. The results of this project are expected to contribute to sustainable resource management by understanding a hitherto largely neglected, dominant component of the microbial community on and in tree roots in forest ecosystems. It will broaden our knowledge about emerging diseases and help to estimate disease incidence and severity expected under a global warming scenario.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Negative effects on survival and performance of Norway spruce seedlings colonized by dark septate root endophytes are primarily isolate-dependent.
Tellenbach Christoph, Grünig Christoph R, Sieber Thomas N (2011), Negative effects on survival and performance of Norway spruce seedlings colonized by dark septate root endophytes are primarily isolate-dependent., in Environmental microbiology, 13(9), 2508-17.
Suitability of quantitative real-time PCR to estimate the biomass of fungal root endophytes.
Tellenbach Christoph, Grünig Christoph R, Sieber Thomas N (2010), Suitability of quantitative real-time PCR to estimate the biomass of fungal root endophytes., in Applied and environmental microbiology, 76(17), 5764-72.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Mycology Symposium 2010 22.01.2010 Wädenswil
GEDIHAP Meeting 17.12.2009 Dübendorf
Annual Meeting of the Mycological Society of Switzerland 18.04.2009 Luzern
Biology09 12.02.2009 Bern
Mycology Symposium 2009 15.01.2009 Zürich


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