The fossil record indicates that fungal symbionts have been associated with plants since the Ordovician period (approximately 400 million years ago), when plants first became established on land (Pirozynski and Malloch, 1975; Redecker et al., 2000; Remy et al., 1994; Simon et al., 1993). Transitioning from aquatic to terrestrial habitats likely presented plants with new stresses, including periods of desiccation. Since symbiotic fungi are known to confer drought tolerance to plants (Bacon, 1993; Read and Camp, 1986), it has been suggested that fungal symbiosis was involved with or responsible for the establishment of land plants (Pirozynski and Malloch, 1975). Symbiosis was first defined by De Bary in 1879, and since that time, all plants in natural ecosystems have been found to be colonized with fungal and bacterial symbionts. It is clear that individual plants represent symbiotic communities with microorganisms associated in or on tissues below- and aboveground.
There are two major classes of fungal symbionts associated with internal plant tissues: fungal endophytes that reside entirely within plants and may be associated with roots, stems leaves, or flowers; and mycorrhizal fungi that reside only in roots but extend out into the rhizosphere. In addition, fungal endophytes may be divided into two classes: (1) a relatively small number of fastidious species that are limited to a few monocot hosts (Clay and Schardl, 2002), and (2) a large number of tractable species with broad host ranges, including both monocots and eudicots (Stone et al., 2000). While significant resources and research have been invested in mycorrhizae and class 1 endophytes, comparatively little is known about class 2 endophytes, which may represent the largest group of fungal symbionts. This is partially because the symbiotic functionalities of class 2 endophytes have only recently been elucidated and shown to be responsible for the adaptation of some plants to high-stress environments (Redman et al., 1999, 2001, 2002a; Arnold et al., 2003; Dingle and McGee, 2003; Ernst et al., 2003).
In this chapter, we focus on symbiotic interactions between class 2 endophytes and a variety of monocot and eudicot host species. Specifically, we will discuss the ability of endophytes to express more than one symbiotic lifestyle, fungal taxonomy vs. lifestyle expression, the adaptive nature of symbioses, mechanisms of symbiotically conferred stress tolerance, and the evolutionary implications of adaptive symbiosis. We will refer to class 2 endophytes as fungal endophytes throughout the text.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Title||Symbiotic lifestyle expression by fungal endophytes and the adaptation of plants to stress: unraveling the complexities of intimacy|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Fisheries Research Center|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Title||The fungal community its organization and role in the ecosystem|