Image_1_The Association With Two Different Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Differently Affects Water Stress Tolerance in Tomato.TIF (779.46 kB)
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Image_1_The Association With Two Different Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Differently Affects Water Stress Tolerance in Tomato.TIF

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posted on 09.10.2018, 04:33 by Veronica Volpe, Walter Chitarra, Pasquale Cascone, Maria Grazia Volpe, Paola Bartolini, Gloriano Moneti, Giuseppe Pieraccini, Claudia Di Serio, Biancaelena Maserti, Emilio Guerrieri, Raffaella Balestrini

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are very widespread, forming symbiotic associations with ∼80% of land plant species, including almost all crop plants. These fungi are considered of great interest for their use as biofertilizer in low-input and organic agriculture. In addition to an improvement in plant nutrition, AM fungi have been reported to enhance plant tolerance to important abiotic and biotic environmental conditions, especially to a reduced availability of resources. These features, to be exploited and applied in the field, require a thorough identification of mechanisms involved in nutrient transfer, metabolic pathways induced by single and multiple stresses, physiological and eco-physiological mechanisms resulting in improved tolerance. However, cooperation between host plants and AM fungi is often related to the specificity of symbiotic partners, the environmental conditions and the availability of resources. In this study, the impact of two AM fungal species (Funneliformis mosseae and Rhizophagus intraradices) on the water stress tolerance of a commercial tomato cultivar (San Marzano nano) has been evaluated in pots. Biometric and eco-physiological parameters have been recorded and gene expression analyses in tomato roots have been focused on plant and fungal genes involved in inorganic phosphate (Pi) uptake and transport. R. intraradices, which resulted to be more efficient than F. mosseae to improve physiological performances, was selected to assess the role of AM symbiosis on tomato plants subjected to combined stresses (moderate water stress and aphid infestation) in controlled conditions. A positive effect on the tomato indirect defense toward aphids in terms of enhanced attraction of their natural enemies was observed, in agreement with the characterization of volatile organic compound (VOC) released. In conclusion, our results offer new insights for understanding the molecular and physiological mechanisms involved in the tolerance toward water deficit as mediated by a specific AM fungus. Moreover, they open new perspectives for the exploitation of AM symbiosis to enhance crop tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses in a scenario of global change.

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