Plant Biol (Stuttg) 2005; 7(2): 210-218
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-837470
Research Paper

Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart KG · New York

Patterns of Interaction between Populus Esch5 and Piriformospora indica: A Transition from Mutualism to Antagonism

M. Kaldorf2 , B. Koch1 , K.-H. Rexer1 , G. Kost1 , A. Varma3
  • 1Fachbereich Biologie, Spezielle Botanik und Mykologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 8, 32032 Marburg, Germany
  • 2Institut für Botanik, Bereich Terrestrische Ökologie, Universität Leipzig, Johannisallee 21 - 23, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  • 3School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110067, India
Further Information

Publication History

Received: July 29, 2004

Accepted: December 6, 2004

Publication Date:
09 February 2005 (online)


Piriformospora indica (Sebacinaceae, Basidiomycota) is an axenically cultivable, plant growth promoting root endophyte with a wide host range, including Populus. Rooting of Populus Esch5 explants started within 6 days after transfer to WPM medium. If such plantlets with roots were inoculated with P. indica, there was an increase in root biomass, and the number of 2nd order roots was increased significantly. A totally different observation was recorded when the explants were placed into WPM with pre-grown P. indica. The interaction led to complete blocking of root production and severely inhibited plant growth. Additionally, branched aerial roots appeared which did not penetrate the medium. On contact with the fungal colony or the medium, the ends of the aerial roots became inflated. Prolonged incubation stimulated the fungus to colonize aerial parts of the plant (stem and leaves). Mycelium not only spread on the surface of the aerial parts, but also invaded the cortical tissues inter- and intracellularly. Detached Populus leaves remained vital for 4 - 5 weeks on sterile agar media or on AspM medium with pre-grown P. indica. When the fungus was pre-grown on culture media such as WPM, containing ammonium as the main source of nitrogen, leaves in contact with the cultures turned brownish within 4 - 12 h. Thereafter, the leaves bleached, and about one day later had become whitish. Thus, cultural conditions could alter the behaviour of the fungus drastically: the outcome of the interaction between plant and fungus can be directed from mutualistic to antagonistic, characterized by fungal toxin formation and extension of the colonization to Populus shoots.


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K.-H. Rexer

Fachbereich Biologie
Spezielle Botanik und Mykologie
Philipps-Universität Marburg

Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 8

32032 Marburg



Editor: J. Cullimore