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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2009 Oct;299(1):31-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2009.01719.x. Epub 2009 Jul 10.

Endophytic Fusarium verticillioides reduces disease severity caused by Ustilago maydis on maize.

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Plant Biological Sciences Graduate Program, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.


Endophytic fungi represent diverse taxa that inhabit plant hosts without causing disease symptoms. We used endophytic isolates of Fusarium verticillioides (Sacc.) Nirenberg to understand how endophytic fungi interact with pathogens, in this case, the corn smut pathogen, Ustilago maydis DC (Corda). Endophytic F. verticillioides strains were inoculated onto maize seedlings before, simultaneously, or after inoculation with U. maydis, and the effects on smut disease severity and on plant growth were assessed. When F. verticillioides is simultaneously coinoculated with U. maydis, smut disease severity is significantly decreased and plant growth is increased, compared with other treatments. Controls show that F. verticillioides by itself does not have measurable effects on plant growth. Together, our results suggest that a commonly occurring fungal endophyte on maize, F. verticillioides, ameliorates the effects of a host-specific pathogen, U. maydis, by interfering with the early infection process and limiting disease development, resulting in increased plant growth.

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