The influence of endophytes on rice fitness under environmental stresses

Showkat Ganie, Javaid Akhter Bhat, Alessandra Devoto

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Rice (Oryza sativa) crop is continuously subjected to biotic and abiotic stresses, compromising growth and consequently yield. The situation is exacerbated by climate change impacting on ecosystems and biodiversity. Genetic engineering has been used to develop stress-tolerant rice, alongside physical and chemical methods to mitigate the effect of these stresses. However, the success of these strategies has been hindered by short-lived field success and public concern on adverse effects associated. The limited success in the field of stress-tolerant cultivars developed through breeding or transgenic approaches is due to the complex nature of stress tolerance as well as to the resistance breakdown caused by accelerated evolution of pathogens. It is therefore necessary to develop novel and acceptable strategies to enhance rice stress tolerance and durable resistance and consequently improve yield. In the last decade, plant growth promoting (PGP) microbes, especially endophytes, have drawn the attention of agricultural scientists worldwide, due to their ability to mitigate environmental stresses in crops, without causing adverse effects. Increasing evidence indicates that endophytes effectively confer fitness benefits also to rice under biotic and abiotic stress conditions. Endophyte-produced metabolites can control the expression of stress-responsive genes and improve the physiological performance and growth of rice plants. This review highlights the current evidence available for PGP microbe-promoted tolerance of rice to abiotic stresses such as salinity and drought and to biotic ones, with special emphasis on endophytes. Associated molecular mechanisms are illustrated, and prospects for sustainable rice production also in the light of the impending climate change, discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2021

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