The superpowers of endophytes

New Scientist has an article entitled “Fungus-powered superplants may beat the heat” on how endophytic fungi from thermotollerant grass – Dichanthelium lanuginosum – can be used to improved drought-, salt-, and cold- tolerance of many other plants including rice. This symbiosis of the endophyte and grass also has additional player in the form of a mycovirus that infects the fungus which we’ve talked about before. The article doesn’t seem to reference any recently published papers but mainly the ongoing work for field trials and the application of these endophytes to speed the adaptations of the plants.

This complicated partnership is a fascinating example of the complex strategies that have evolved among these organisms as part of colonization of new niches. It is also quite likely, they are along for the ride in most plant systems and we are just now beginning to see their diversity and function.