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Vertically transmitted Epichloë systemic endophyte enhances drought tolerance of Achnatherum inebrians host plants through promoting photosynthesis and biomass accumulation
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  • Rui Zhong,
  • Xingxu Zhang,
  • Chunjie Li,
  • Zhibiao Nan
Rui Zhong
Lanzhou University College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Xingxu Zhang
State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems SKLGAE, Lanzhou University.
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Chunjie Li
Lanzhou University College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology
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Zhibiao Nan
Lanzhou University College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology
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Abstract

Achnatherum inebrians (drunken horse grass, DHG) plants, a dominant grass species in the arid and semi-arid regions of northwest China, symbiotic with an Epichloë fungal endophyte, is well adapted to drought. However, little is known about how the presence of the foliar Epichloë endophyte enhances the tolerance of DHG to drought at the molecular level. This study explored the positive effects of the presence of the Epichloë endophyte on plant growth, biomass, and photosynthetic efficiency and processes of DHG under non-drought and two drought (moderate and severe) treatments, using RNA sequencing to compare transcriptomes. The transcriptome results showed that 32 selected unigenes involved in the photosynthesis processes within Epichloë symbiotic plants were differently expressed (DEGs) versus non-symbiotic plants. The majority of these selected DEGs were up-regulated in Epichloë symbiotic plants versus non-symbiotic plants, such as up-regulated unigenes (c51525.graph_c1, c47798.graph_c0 & c64087.graph_c0) under drought conditions. In line with the transcriptomes data, the presence of the Epichloë endophyte promoted the photosynthetic rate and biomass accumulation of DHG plants, and the relationship between photosynthetic rate and biomass is liner and significant. The presence of the endophyte only increased the biomass per tiller of DHG plants under drought. This study has provided further insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying enhanced plant growth and drought tolerance of DHG host plants of the Epichloë endophyte.
16 May 2022Published in Journal of Fungi volume 8 issue 5 on pages 512. 10.3390/jof8050512