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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2011;49:291-315. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-080508-081831.

Hidden fungi, emergent properties: endophytes and microbiomes.

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Department of Biology, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455, USA.


Endophytes are microorganisms that live within plant tissues without causing symptoms of disease. They are important components of plant microbiomes. Endophytes interact with, and overlap in function with, other core microbial groups that colonize plant tissues, e.g., mycorrhizal fungi, pathogens, epiphytes, and saprotrophs. Some fungal endophytes affect plant growth and plant responses to pathogens, herbivores, and environmental change; others produce useful or interesting secondary metabolites. Here, we focus on new techniques and approaches that can provide an integrative understanding of the role of fungal endophytes in the plant microbiome. Clavicipitaceous endophytes of grasses are not considered because they have unique properties distinct from other endophytes. Hidden from view and often overlooked, endophytes are emerging as their diversity, importance for plant growth and survival, and interactions with other organisms are revealed.

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