Do Endophytes Promote Growth of Host Plants Under Stress?

bean plant life cycle

A Meta-Analysis on Plant Stress Mitigation by Endophytes

Hyungmin Rho 1 & Marian Hsieh 1 & Shyam L. Kandel1 & Johanna Cantillo 2 &
Sharon L. Doty1 & Soo-Hyung Kim 1


Endophytes are microbial symbionts living inside plants and have been extensively researched in recent decades for their functions associated with plant responses to environmental stress. We conducted a meta-analysis of endophyte effects on host plants’ growth and fitness in response to three abiotic stress factors: drought, nitrogen deficiency, and excessive salinity. Ninety-four endophyte strains and 42 host plant species from the literature were evaluated in the analysis. Endophytes increased biomass accumulation of host plants under all three stress conditions. The stress mitigation effects by endophytes were similar among different plant taxa or functional groups with few exceptions; eudicots and C4 species gained more biomass than monocots and C3 species with endophytes, respectively, under drought conditions. Our analysis supports the effectiveness of endophytes in mitigating drought, nitrogen deficiency, and salinity stress in a wide range of host species with little evidence of plant-endophyte specificity.


Bacteria, fungi, yeast, Drought stress, nitrogen stress, salinity stress, Effect size Endophytes, Meta-analysis, Plant biomass

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