Fungi may help protect plants from disease

Nov 22, 2005

Scientists say they've determined microscopic fungi living inside trees might help protect the trees from disease and predators. The fungi, called endophytes, are found throughout various types of plants, with different endophyte species co-existing in a single plant.

"We really don't understand exactly what (endophytes) do," fungi researcher Rebecca Ganley told National Geographic News. "But we are slowly coming to understand how they might be involved in resistance, tolerance, and other ecological processes that go on in the plant."

Ganley conducted graduate research at the University of Idaho that focused on harnessing the power of the tiny fungi to keep trees healthy. Her research suggested trees with diverse communities of endophytes are more resistant to diseases.

James White, a Rutgers University plant pathologist, told National Geographic News researchers have learned to use endophytes in certain grasses to make the plants resistant to disease, drought, and insects.

Such endophyte research is "big business," he said, especially for turf grasses that are used for lawns.

"The benefits are tremendous," he said. "It means no or little herbicide has to be applied, less water to be put on the plants, and few insecticides."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Harnessing plant-invading fungi for fuel

Jan 09, 2013

(Phys.org)—As gas prices rise around the world, researchers are seeking a potential solution from endophytic fungi—fungi that live inside plants.

Breaking down DNA by genome

Oct 31, 2014

New DNA sequencing technologies have greatly advanced genomic and metagenomic studies in plant biology. Scientists can readily obtain extensive genetic information for any plant species of interest, at a relatively low cost, ...

A tale of two fungi

Mar 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —In the February issue of New Phytologist, Tulane University biologists examine why leaf-cutting ants target some plants and avoid others, concluding that high levels of friendly fungi in the ...

Recommended for you

Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

Jan 30, 2015

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some other players call him ...

Reintegrating extremist into society

Jan 30, 2015

The UK government's increasingly punitive response to those involved in terrorism risks undermining efforts to successfully reintegrate former extremists, according to research by the University of St Andrews.

Strategies to enhance intelligence analysis

Jan 30, 2015

If you've ever watched a thriller about undercover agents, you probably have the impression that intelligence officers are models of objectivity, pragmatism and sharp, unbiased thinking. However, in reality ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.