Trichoderma: A wonder fungus for agriculture

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The dawn of 20th century witnessed the discovery of a fungus, Penicillium chrysogenum that yielded the wonder drug Penicillin, a savior of millions of lives. Almost at the same time, a beneficial fungus Trichoderma was also discovered though the immense benefits this fungus offer are being realized only in the 21st century. With discovery of multiple utilities, Trichoderma shall be remembered as a wonder fungus for agriculture as it offers multiple benefits including improvement of biotic and abiotic stresses that affect crop cultivation. Ability of Trichoderma to control many plant pathogens through the direct action by mycoparasitism (growing on fungal pathogens); by production of lytic enzymes and anti-microbial antibiotics to inhibit fungal plant pathogens is known for a long time. Recent advances in research show that Trichoderma spp. also have the ability to protect plants from drought and salinity stress, and other physiological stresses. They can also enhance nutrient uptake in plants and can substantially increase nitrogen use efficiency and photosynthetic efficiency in crops. These abilities gain importance in the present scenario of global climate change. Trichoderma associate intimately with plant roots, produce biomolecules/elicitors that modulate gene expression patterns in the host plant.  Products based on Trichoderma are already popular among the farmers especially for management of soil-borne pathogens like Sclerotium rolfsii, Macrophomina phaseolina, Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium and Phytophthora sp. in major field and horticultural crops. Control of fungal pathogens by direct action of Trichoderma is ascribed to production of antibiotics and lytic enzymes and its ability of compete with pathogen for the limiting resources. The thermo tolerant isolates identified were able to produce extracellular enzymes viz., chitinases, glucanase, cellulases, amylases and these enzymes play a crucial role in the process of mycoparasitism and inhibit fungal plant pathogens. 

Root colonization and plant growth promotion by Trichoderma   

Seed treatment with Trichoderma improves seed germination, plant vigour and seed yield in crops apart from controlling the diseases . Trichoderma have the ability to solubilize insoluble forms of major nutrients and make them available to plants thereby increasing the nutrient use efficiency. 

Induction of defense against biotic and abiotic stresses in plants by Trichoderma

Biotic stresses

Treatment of plants with Trichoderma is expected to impart resistance against pathogens by increasing the production and accumulation of defense enzymes. Plants treated with Trichoderma will results in elevation defense enzymes and reduction in diseases incidence

Abiotic stresses

Salinity

The seed treatment with thermo tolerant and salinity tolerant Trichoderma isolates resulted in better seed germination and seedling growth of sunflower saline soils.

Drought

Seed treatment with Trichoderma strains also imparts drought tolerance in plants

 

Article by

Dr. R. D. Prasad,

Principal Scientist,

ICAR-IIOR

Email: r.durgaprasad@icar.gov.in

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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