About this Research Topic
Biotechnological products are developed using targeted fungal species. Using fungi to enhance plant development in agriculture, forestry and horticulture is important because of their diverse effects on humans, plants and animals worldwide.
Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Fusarium, Penicillium, Serendipita, Phoma, and Trichoderma have been introduced as plant growth-promoting fungi, and these fungi can be developed in further research as biofertilizers. For an example, Ketomium® has been developed and improved from strains of Chaetomium in pellet and powder form and used in different plant varieties. Ketomium® also has the ability to control Phytophthora that causes citrus root rot. In addition, some biofertilizers act as antagonists and suppress incidents of soil-borne plant pathogens while helping in the biocontrol of plant diseases.
Ectomycorrhizae can improve soil structure and nutrients; protect plants against root pathogens; promote plant growth by producing phytohormones; improve the survival and growth of seedlings; and increase the photosynthetic rate of plants. Ectomycorrhizae also reduce fertilization costs in an environmentally friendly manner. This group of fungi are important for the growth of economically important trees, including species in the genera Fagus, Dipterocarpus, Shorea, Eucalyptus, Quercus, Castanopsis, Pinus, and Picea. Fungal genera like Cenocococum, Pisolithus, Laccaria, Rhizopogon, Russula, Scleroderma and Thelephora have been shown to increase the rate of survival and growth of eucalyptus, pine and oak seedlings in both plantations and reforestation programs.
Today, the ﬂoriculture trade faces extinction threats because of habitat loss and over-exploitation of attractive species. Accordingly, research on the re-introduction of endangered species to natural habitats is encouraged. Mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal endophytes are useful to stimulate seed germination and control diseases. Fusarium species promote seed germination of Cypripedium and Platanthera orchids. The endophyte Umbelopsis nana, isolated from Cymbidium spp., promotes the growth of Cymbidium hybridum.
Several studies have demonstrated the role of endophytic fungi in enhancing plant vigor in both normal and stressful environments. One prime example is the use of Serendipita indica for increasing tolerance to abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity, osmotic and heavy metals in India. Under salinity stress, maize plants colonized by S. indica produced higher biomass and maintained higher shoot potassium ion content compared to un-inoculated plants.
Several fungal species produce a variety of bioactive compounds that play important roles in the physiological activities of the host plant, inﬂuencing the growth of hosts. This can even lead to an increased tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses. Fungal genera like Aspergillus, Botrytis, Cercospora, Penicillium and Rhizopus produce important plant growth hormones.
The main goal of this Research Topic is to provide an integrative view on this area, welcoming both reviews and original research articles focusing on:
- fungi for enhancing crops and forestry systems
- how they are useful for eco-friendly crops and forestry systems
Keywords: Agriculture, Biofertilizers, Biotechnology, Mycorrhizae, Phytohormones
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