Submitted to: Annual Water Resources Conference
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2005
Publication Date: 8/18/2005
Citation: Lucero, M., O'Connell, M. 2005. Enhancement of chile biomass, fruit quality, and drought stress tolerance by inoculation with native plant endophytes [abstract]. 20th Annual Southwest Consortium on Plant Genetics and Water Resources Symposium. August 18-20, 2005, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. p. 6. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Recognition of the important contributions endophytes make to plant stress tolerance, defense, and production has grown exponentially with improvements in detection of unculturable microorganisms in plant tissues. Recently, the ability to manipulate host-endophyte combinations has provided a powerful tool for plant improvement and offered a host of new opportunities for metabolic engineering. Endophytes obtained from plants native to the Chihuahuan desert have demonstrated remarkable potential to transform forage grasses, tomatoes, and Arabidopsis, increasing overall biomass, nutrient uptake, and fruit production. The mechanisms by which these improvements occur are not fully understood. Microscopic examination of fungal biofilms on plant surfaces, in guard cells, and in vascular tissues suggest direct roles in water and nutrient management. The proposed study will utilize chile plant as model systems for analysis of changes in gene expression and metabolism following inoculation with foreign endophytes. Treated and untreated chile will be raised from seedlings in a controlled greenhouse environment. PCR and in situ hybridization of leaf tissue will verify changes in systemic endophyte populations following inoculation. Plant growth measurements such as height, days until flowering, numbers of flowers and fruit produced and biomass will be recorded. Samples from young and mature tissues will be harvested for biochemical analysis of organic extracts, and for RNA analysis. Gene expression analysis will determine the abundance of transcripts related to drought stress, photosynthesis, and secondary metabolism. This research will directly address SWC goals of determining and evaluating plant genetic, developmental, biochemical, and physiological responses that affect the growth and yield of a regionally important crop species.