Cryptic endophyte consortia associated with embryonic tissues of fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) are believed to serve mutualistic functions. However, the complexity of these endophyte communities makes cause-and-effect relationships difficult to establish. In fourwing saltbush, cryptic endophytes are thought to enhance drought and salt tolerance, nutrient acquisition, germination, and establishment. Some of these traits can be conferred to alternate host plants by co-culturing seedlings in vitro with micropropagated fourwing saltbush callus. Here we describe an evolving process for; 1) identifying arrays of cryptic, seed borne endophytes associated with fourwing saltbush; 2) evaluating early vigor of grasses and other plants endowed with fourwing saltbush endophytes; 3) selecting plant-endophyte combinations with increased tolerance to abiotic stressors, and 4) monitoring the persistance of transferred endophytes across plant generations in increasingly complex habitats. This process is designed to evaluate specific plant-fungal interactions that influence host tolerance to salinity, but may be broadly adaptable for selecting endophyte-enhanced plant germplasms with a variety of desired traits.
Lucero, Mary E.; Barrow, Jerry R.; Reyes-Vera, Isaac; and Sedillo, Ruth
"Examining Endophyte Interactions within Fourwing Saltbush (Atriplex canescens),"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues: Vol. 16
, Article 21.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol16/iss1/21