Growth stimulation of ectomycorrhizal fungi by root exudates of Brassicaceae plants: role of degraded compounds of indole glucosinolates

J Chem Ecol. 2003 Jun;29(6):1337-55. doi: 10.1023/a:1024257218558.


Brassicaceae plants are nonmycorrhizal. They were found to inhibit VA mycorrhizal infection in their host plants. We tested if they can influence growth of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. When roots and leaves of Brassicaceae plants and ECM fungi were cultured together in the same petri dishes, the root exudates of turnip (Brassica rapa), swede (B. napobrassica), cabbage (B. oleracea, var. capitata), broccoli (B. oleracea, var. italica Plenck), kohlrobi (B. caulorapa Pasq.), mustard (B. juncea), radish (Raphanus sativus), and choy (B. napus) significantly stimulated hyphal growth of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Paxillus involutus. Root exudates of turnip and cabbage stimulated hyphal growth of Pisolithus tinctorius and two isolates of P. involutus. Colony area of P. involutus was increased by 452 and 414%, respectively, in the presence of turnip and cabbage germinants. Root exudates of turnip increased the biomass of P. involutus and P. tinctorius by 256 and 122% and cabbage by 220 and 82%, respectively. The stimulatory effect was not affected by autoclaving the root exudates. Root exudates had chemical reactions with glutathione and lysine, which resulted in a reduction of the growth stimulation of ECM fungi. Myrosinase enhanced further the stimulatory effects of turnip on the ECM colony diameter growth by 23%. Autoclaved roots and leaves of turnip did not stimulate fungal growth, but mechanically ground roots and leaves of turnip stimulated growth of P. involutus by 147 and 135%, respectively. After desulfuration with aryl sulphatuse, the glucosinolates (GLSs) in turnip roots and leaves were identified by HPLC. The major ones were indole GLSs. Prominent compounds identified were 1-methoxy-3-indolymethyl GLS and4-methoxy-3-indolymethyl GLS. The finding provides an opportunity to field test the use of Brassicaceae plants in enhancing ectomycorrhizal formation in conifers by interplanting conifers with Brassicaceae plants in forest tree nursery and agroforestry systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brassicaceae / chemistry*
  • Fungi / growth & development*
  • Glucosinolates / pharmacology*
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plant Roots / microbiology*
  • Population Dynamics


  • Glucosinolates
  • Indoles
  • Plant Extracts