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Plant Growth Promotion and Biocontrol Potential of Fungal Endophytes in the Inflorescence of Aloe vera L.

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Abstract

Sclerotinia stem rot caused by necrotrophic plant pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib) de Bary is a highly pervasive disease affecting a wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops. In this study, fungal endophytes recovered from inflorescence tissues of Aloe vera L. were examined for their antagonist activity against S. sclerotiorum and the presence of plant growth-promoting traits. Fungal endophytes were characterized by microscopic and molecular (ITS rDNA sequencing) methods. Chaetomium globosum was the predominant endophytic species followed by Trichoderma harzanium in this study. Trichoderma harzanium tested positive for the presence of plant growth-promoting traits, i.e. siderophore, indole acetic acid, hydrogen cyanide production and phosphate solubilization. Chaetomium globosum strain 2 and T. harzanium survived stressful conditions (high temperature, cold stress and UV-B exposure). In antagonism assay, T. harzanium exhibited the highest growth inhibition per cent of 81.01 ± 0.63 against S. sclerotiorum and also restricted sclerotia formation. The hexane extract of T. harzanium (TH hex) obtained from solid fermentation depicted best antifungal activity against phytopathogen having an IC50 value of 3.987 mg/ml which is moderately comparable with positive control carbendazim (50%, WP). The GC–MS analysis of TH hex detected abundant presence (39.4%) of hexadecanoic acid, 2, 3-bis [(trimethylsilyl) oxy] propyl ester and other unsaturated fatty acids (palmitic and linoleic acid) having antifungal activity. The study demonstrates antifungal activity and plant growth-promoting potential of fungal endophytes residing in the inflorescence of A. vera.

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Acknowledgements

One of the authors acknowledges funding from DST-NPDF Grant No. PDF/2016/000317 and infrastructural support provided by CRDT, IIT Delhi.

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Correspondence to Kanika Chowdhary.

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Significance statement Endophytic Trichoderma harzanium tested positive for plant growth-promoting features. Further, it survived stressful conditions and in antagonism assay exhibited highest growth inhibition per cent of 81.01 ± 0.63 against Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.

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Chowdhary, K., Sharma, S. Plant Growth Promotion and Biocontrol Potential of Fungal Endophytes in the Inflorescence of Aloe vera L.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., India, Sect. B Biol. Sci. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40011-020-01173-3

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Keywords

  • Fungal endophytes
  • Sclerotinia sclerotiorum
  • GC–MS
  • Trichoderma harzanium
  • Antifungal activity
  • Aloe vera inflorescence